Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Recipe for Baby Food

When I had my first baby and it came time to feed her food, I found that jarred baby foods don't pass muster when it comes to yumminess or affordability. So using my favorite, the immersion blender, I made my own. Today it was time to remember the recipe because my second daughter had her first meal of solid food:

Supplies needed:
Ice cube trays
Saran wrap
Immersion blender
Stainless steel pot (non-stick would get scratched by the blender)
Organic vegetable or fruit of your choice.

You boil the peeled and cubed vegetable or fruit in as little water as you can get away with. You puree with the stick blender. You pour into ice cube trays, cover with saran wrap, and freeze. Duh. Simple, huh? When frozen solid, remove from tray and put in a container of your choice, label with contents and date. Or don't, and then play baby food roulette/artistry when you pack lunch for daycare, that's what I did. One yellow, one white, one green makes a pretty lunch.

A couple of advantages come to mind. This is very cost effective, in particular since you can make organic baby food for the price of regular jarred food. VERY little work is involved if you buy frozen peas or spinach, or baby carrots (though I prefer real carrots that I have to peel). As I was peeling a sweet potato today that I then cooked and pureed I thought that it took less time than to walk to the baby food aisle in Target (or wherever).
One of the biggies is the flavor and consistency. None of this stage 1,2,3 crap that is used in marketing. You make it smooth enough that there is no danger of indigestion or choking, and that's it. Baby gets used to a little texture and a LOT of flavor in the food and that's what you want.
My daycare teachers were always playing guessing games as to what the food was, but most often the smell would be telling - have you ever smelled jar baby food? It's gross.
Another plus is that there are no secret ingredients. Pears are pears, apples are apples, veggies are veggies without secret additions of rice or corn (which to a baby is really worthless filler I would say).

I have no idea why not everybody does this. I tried to look at it from both sides to no avail.

Possible variations and hints:
I have tried to make chicken this way, but my daughter never liked it. It is impossible to not make it taste dry I find. Rice also was fairly tricky. The one thing that she gagged on was zucchini squash. It's probably genetic since I hate the stuff too. Once I cooked some dried apricots this way, the result was so sweet it didn't freeze well and my daughter didn't like it much. I thought it was yummy though. Prunes are the one thing I bought jarred after that.
One of our favorites are beans. I used to use canned but these days I would pressure cook my own. Garbanzo (hummus) and kidney beans come to mind as very healthy. They're pretty good for babies who tend to be constipated, I should add.

Why organic:
Because children have been found to have measurable levels of pesticides in their urine. That just doesn't seem right to me. The ingredients in pesticides have (if at all) only been tested one at a time, in adults (most often male adults) and at high doses. Typically, things like that don't get tested for long-term, low-dose exposure so there is really no telling what's safe and what isn't.
And you can't rely on the FDA or EPA to tell you what's safe, sadly.
When those kids in the study were switched to all organic food, the pesticides in their urine disappeared. That's reason enough for me to go the extra mile and once you know when and how to shop, the extra cost is not that staggering. Nobody says you have to eat bell pepper and Boston lettuce all the time....

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