March 9, 2011

Baby Food from Scratch

Baby food has to be the easiest thing in the world to make at home. In the earliest days of solid food all you need is a veggie (or fruit) and a bit of liquid. As your baby gets a little older you can start adding spices and making combinations. My philosophy is that kids should be exposed to fresh, healthy food right from the beginning. The tastier it is, the more likely they are to eat it. American children are just about the only ones in the world that are started on super-bland food which sometimes resembles wallpaper paste (seriously, leave that rice cereal in the bowl for a few minutes).  In other nations, the kids are eating mooshed up versions of what the adults are eating. So, I'm not squeamish about adding some flavor to my baby's food (being aware of potential allergens, of course).

Right now, we're still in the earlier stages. The recipes are simple. Blanch or steam a veggie or fruit until it's slightly soft. Put it in the food processor. Puree until smooth. Freeze in small portions. I use a silicon ice cube tray for freezing. Things pop out of it like a dream and the cubes will make later food-mixing super easy. I also use a food mill instead of a processor. It's easier to clean, is great for small batches and leaves a little more texture than a processor. The pictures are of a batch of peas I fixed up yesterday.

As my little guy gets older, I'll start using stock to cook the food instead of water. I'll also add appropriate spices and maybe even a smidge of butter. I don't ever add sweeteners to anything, but keep in mind that kids under two should never, ever eat honey. They could end up with botulism, which can be fatal in infants.

Not sure you want to jump in to homemade baby food? No problem! Some of baby's favorites don't involve any cooking at all. Smash a ripe banana or avocado with a fork. Buy some natural, unsweetened applesauce (the large jar is a much better deal than a baby food size jar). The earlier baby is exposed to real food (that tastes good) the more often he'll choose it later.


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