Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Baby Food Part 1: Purees

Parker's first solid food!
Parker will be a year old next week. As all moms say, I can hardly believe it. I didn't think I was going to write anything about baby food, but lately since Parker no longer wants to eat anything off of a spoon I have had to get more creative with making him food. Of course, I turned to the Internet and cookbooks for ideas, so I figured I'd share what worked for me and maybe it will help another mom (or dad!) who is panicking because all of a sudden their child won't eat any of the purees stashed in the freezer.

Baby food is really easy to begin with, to be honest. Start with steaming single vegetables, puree them, freeze them in ice cube trays. The hardest part, for me anyway, is getting over your fears that the kid is going to choke to death. I had to tell myself lots of times that everybody obviously goes through this, because do you know any adults who still only eat pureed food? Me neither.

These are a few books that were really helpful with baby food info and recipes. Each book has it's own merits, and I think it's good to read a few in order to get different points of view and form your own opinions on what to feed your baby. For example, the author of Sprout Right doesn't believe in giving your baby meat or wheat until after 12-18 months, but Better Baby Food (and the public health unit) recommends meat as a first food.

Better Baby Food 2nd Edition by Daina Kalnins and Joanne Saab. Endorsed by The Hospital for Sick Children. Great info on breastfeeding, lots of great recipes for toddlers, a few recipes for 6-12 months.

The Baby's Table by Brenda Bradshaw and Lauren Donaldson Bramley. Mostly recipes, tons of great recipes for 6 months and beyond.

Sprout Right by Lianne Phillipson-Webb. Good info on breastfeeding, eating well during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, choosing a baby formula, a whole chapter on baby poo (yes, really) organic and natural foods, more complex recipes.

And just in case that is not enough info for you, here are a few websites that I used as well:

Sweet Potato Chronicles
Weelicious You can see recipes by age or type (i.e. puree) on this blog
Baby Center
Cooking with My Kid Recipes for toddlers and up, but I have found some great recipes on here for just me and Tyler too
Today's Parent
How to Be a Dad Not food related, but hilarious
Distracted Daddy Also not food related but really funny. Dad blogs are funnier cause the dads aren't in the trenches 24/7 methinks.

I learned a few things in the first few weeks of starting Parker on solid food:
  •  A blender or Magic Bullet does a better job of getting things smooth than your food processor or a potato masher. 
  • Be careful not to give your baby all "binding" foods. I started Parker on rice cereal, squash, bananas, and applesauce, all of which cause constipation. Sorry little dude.  
  • When starting to transition from really smooth purees to a little chunkier textures, whole wheat couscous is a good start. It takes 5 minutes to make, its tiny, and easy to mix into any vegetable puree. 
  • Most fruits you will peel, but you can leave the skin on pears and puree them raw if they are really ripe. Also if you are cooking down apples for applesauce the skin can be left on as it will soften and puree nicely too.
  • Save the water you use to steam or boil vegetables in the fridge for up to a few days to use to thin out purees or to make baby cereal. Perhaps the extra nutrients are negligible, but every little bit counts I think.
  • Mix up flavours by adding spices from your spice cabinet rather than adding them to the whole batch while it's cooking as you would normally do, as most recipes make a ton of food (for a baby). Parker loved cinnamon, ginger, Chinese 5-spice, and curry powder. Beware of garlic powder, especially if baby spits up a lot. Garlic breath does is not becoming of a baby.
  • You know how asparagus makes your pee smell? It makes baby pee smell too. Just a warning.
  • Blending potatoes makes glue.
I have really started to think about how to get the most nutritional bang for my buck with making Parker's food, which has carried over into what I make for me and Tyler too. If the baby is only going to eat a few bites, I want to pack as much good stuff in as I can. So apart from the single ingredient purees (which you can always combine to make different dishes when you defrost them), here are a few simple recipes that Parker loved and are super healthy. These are recommended for 8 months and up.

Adapted from Sprout Right
Makes about 3 cups
Author's note: For toddles, you can serve this puree as a sauce for noodles. It's wonderful on it's own, mixed with rice, or served as a soup for mom and dad with extra lentils and stock.

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups water or no sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 carrots, scrubbed and chopped small
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Mash or puree to desired consistency.

Adapted from Sprout Right
Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 1/2 cups water or no-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 can (14 oz/398 ml) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Mash or puree to desired consistency.

 Adapted from Sprout Right
Makes about 3 cups

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
6 spears asparagus or green beans, chopped (snap off tough ends and discard)
1 small bunch kale, chopped after removing ribs
6 pitted prunes, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until soft, 30-40 minutes. Add a bit more water if needed to thin out, mash or puree to desired consistency. 

1 lb stewing beef, cut into small pieces
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 small head broccoli, chopped
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk fresh rosemary
Place all ingredients in a pot and add water so that everything is just covered. Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer until beef is very tender and pulls apart easily with a fork. Remove rosemary stalk (all the leaves will probably have fallen off). Mash or puree to desired consistency.

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