Monday, August 29, 2011

Creating a "Mini-Foodie": Homemade Baby Food

My adorable little "foodie"
My daughter's six favorite foods:  yogurt, avocado, zucchini, cheese, mango, and couscous - and I'm happy about this list!  I've been feeding my daughter some of these foods since she started eating table food.  She is willing to try just about anything and she enjoys everything too.  I made over fifty percent of my daughter's baby food and am so glad that I did.  Books and websites make usually the process of making baby food seem so time consuming and difficult, but the truth is that if you are eating healthy, fresh foods, then it is so simple!  (Trust me - I was working full time!)  If we were having zucchini, then I would steam a bunch of extra zucchini, pop it into the baby food processor, and put it into little containers to freeze for later.  I also started mixing in seasonings and spices pretty early to get her used to new variations and flavors that we often cooked with at home.  
Making baby food gave my daughter an opportunity to eat foods that she wouldn't have tried if she only ate jarred food, and it also allowed me to control the quality (and yumminess!) of ingredients in her meals.  When looking at jars of baby food "meat" I was so disgusted.  I bought one jar of chicken and opened it - it looked horrible, smelled horrible, and my daughter would have NOTHING to do with it.  Can you blame her?  Knowing how important iron is, I knew she needed some type of meat.  I began baking extra chicken in foil with olive oil and then processing it with sweet potatoes, or broccoli - she loved it.  Chicken is still among her favorites today!  I STRONGLY recommend making at least some of your child's baby food.  Here are some extremely helpful tools that will help to make this process super-easy:

steamer basket that fits in multiple-sized pots (this can be used to steam any vegetables very quickly    while saving the nutrients - boiling depletes the nutrients, so steaming is best!)
- BPA-free electric food mill - I have a fabulous one from Kid Co. (no need for expensive processors, a simple $25-35 processor will do the trick)
BPA-free containers to store food to freeze for later (I recommend One Step Ahead containers - stackable with a screw-top lid - amazing!)
baby food books (not only will you get great ideas and guidelines for age-appropriate foods, but if you have extra time on your hands there are many recipes for different ages and stages)

Books I recommend:  
"Top 100 Baby Purees" by Annabel Karmel
"Cooking for Baby" by Lisa Barnes

Don't just stick with the usual green beans, carrots, and mashed peas in jars - be creative and introduce your little one to the wonderful world of food!  The more varied experiences, the better!

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