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Posts Tagged ‘Homemade baby food’

I used to be very by-the-book on what solids to feed Lil Z-Bear.  He started with a little bit of rice cereal at around 4 months, and then around 6 months we introduced bananas, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  We slowly kept building his repertoire with single ingredient mashed and strained fruits and veggies (although I did add spices to his food early on).  I waited longer than the required 3 days between new foods, and every time he ate something new a part of me felt nervous.  At 8 months now, I have stopped being so cautious.  Because Lil Z wants to eat whatever we are eating.  So instead of letting a chart decide what is and isn’t ok for him, I am letting him lead.  And I found out I am not unique in this; there is a whole slew of baby-led weaning mothers out there. 

Now when Z-Bear sits at the table with us, I give him little morsels of whatever we are eating and he loves it!   I have been horrified for so long by seeing what passes as ‘Country Chicken Dinner’ in a jar at the store.  It seems unnatural for baby not to know what real food should smell, look and taste like.   He has no teeth yet, but I am in love with how he chews his food.  I cannot help but wonder if chewing is a natural reflex just like sucking is for babies, or if he is imitating what we are doing.  Either way, he loves to be included during meal time.

This weekend I made curried chicken, and I fed it to him with bits of naan and he was delighted.  He did not mind one bit that there was red cayenne pepper and a sprinkling of green chilies in the dish.  He LOVED the spicy taste and he had no irritation after eating it either.  I love this new stage with the little one because now I am mindful of preparing food that is more organic and has very little salt so it is good for mama and papa as well.  And although I still continue to feed him home made baby food, he can have a few nibbles with us too.

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A dollop of organic yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of smoked paprika - One of Lil Z's favorite snacks.

I am enjoying introducing new foods into Lil Z-Bear’s diet.  There is nothing quite like giving a new food to him for the first time, and the faces he makes before he decides if he likes it or not.  But whoever says baby food needs to be bland and boring?  I am taking my cue from cultures all over the world that introduce babies to all types of foods, not just bland cereal and mashed, unflavored veggies.  When I prepare Z-Bear’s food, I warm it and sprinkle it with a dash of spices, and let the aromatics waft through the steam and let him smell it.  I taste everything I let the little cub eat.  And frankly, it’s quite yummy!  Especially since I have smelled and tried the baby food that comes in a jar, and some of it is rather unappetizing.  I have been introducing Lil Z-Bear to all kinds of flavorings in his food, and here are a few items that have him drooling (more than usual, that is). 

(Of course, I check with our doctor before introducing anything that I am not sure about, and I make sure I prepare food properly so it poses no choking hazard.   Like with any other food, when introducing herbs and spices, wait 3 to 4 days in between to make sure there isn’t an allergic reaction.)

Cinnamon:  A great first spice, it is sweet, mildly spicy, and very aromatic.  It’s perfect over applesauce, bananas, and sweet potatoes.

Cracked black pepper:  Great to give food a bit of a kick and to enhance the sweetness in fruits.

Cumin:  Roast a quarter cup of cumin seeds on a hot pan for 1 to 2 minutes, shaking constantly.  Grind in a spice mill or coffee grinder and store in a jar.   Sprinkle some on steamed pureed veggies or poached pureed fruit.  Let your baby smell the delicious aroma that arises when you add it to warmed fruit and veggies and watch him eat it up with delight!

Garam Masala:  A favorite in our house, this mixture of ground roasted spices is great over fruits, veggies, and proteins.  It is readily available in the spice section of most grocery stores.

Rosemary, sage, and thyme:  Throw in some fresh leaves while steaming baby food, and simply remove leaves after cooking (This is to prevent choking hazard)

Garlic:  I have read in countless places that babies love the taste of garlic.  And Lil Z-Bear’s delight in eating food flavored with freshly peeled, crushed garlic (added before cooking) proves it.

Paprika:  Mild flavored (it’s made from ground sweet peppers) and vibrant, this is a great way to introduce baby to pepper.

Basil: Sweet smelling and flavorful, it’s great to add in steamed vegetables.

Ginger: This is excellent in poached apples and pears, as well as sweet potatoes.  Add while cooking, and be sure to puree food well before serving baby.

Other great spices and flavorings that I am looking forward to trying for Lil Z-Bear: Coriander, Turmeric, Dill, Parsley, Cilantro, Lemongrass, and Coconut Milk.  Will keep you posted!

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Ever since Lil Z-Bear was born, we have started a switch to organic in our house. It’s a slow process and we are nowhere near where we want to be. However, everything we put in Lil Z-Bear is 100% organic. Think organic is expensive? Well, it is. But, if you compare buying conventional jarred baby food against homemade organic baby food, organic is cheaper. Way cheaper.

Daunted by homemade baby food? There is no need to be! It’s easy, fun, and inexpensive.  I don’t have any special equipment to make baby food (mainly because we just don’t have the counterspace in our small kitchen) but all I need is the stove and oven, and my trusty Cuisinart Food Processor.  Below are some recipes I want to share that always please Lil Z-Bear!

Butternut Squash

1 medium organic butternut squash

Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake half hour to 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Squash is done when flesh is soft and tender and easily scoops out of the skin.  Mash flesh with fork or potato masher, or puree in food processor.  Add a little water to thin out and make smooth.   Portion out and freeze.  Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds.  Serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Sweet Potatoes

3 medium organic sweet potatoes (or organic jewel yams, I switch between the two, Lil Z-Bear loves both!)

Boil covered for 45 minutes.  Let rest until cool enough to handle and peel.  Mash with fork or potato masher. Portion out and freeze. Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds. Serve with a sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper.

Carrots

A bag of organic baby carrots

Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake 35 to 45 minutes at 375 degrees.  Carrots are done when soft and tender.  Place in food processor and puree until smooth.  Add a little water to thin, if necessaray.  Portion out and freeze. Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds. 

Sweet Green Peas

A bag of frozen organic peas.

Boil covered in 3/4 cup of water for 15 to 25 minutes.  Drain and puree in food processor until smooth.  Add a little water to thin, if necessary.  Portion out and freeze. Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds.

Comice Pears

3 Organic Comice Pears (although any pear will do, and if you can’t find Comice, Bartlett and Anjou work very well, the soft, juicy texture of Comice pears make them ideal for baby food)

Organic Rice or Oatmeal Cereal

Peel pears, remove seeds and stem, and cut into cubes.  Steam or microvawe for 3 to 5 minutes.  Mash with fork or potato masher.  Add 4 tablespoons of organic rice cereal or oatmeal to thicken.  Portion out and freeze. Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds.

Banana

One small very ripe organic banana

Tablespoon of organic rice cereal

This is probably the easiest baby food to make.  Mash banana with a fork until smooth.  Add a tablespoon of rice cereal and mix well.  Serve immediately.

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