Little Palate: Home Made Baby Food
It’s no secret that I like to eat healthy. I became a vegetarian two years ago and have never regretted that decision. I like to experiment with new healthy recipes and cook the majority of my meals. I shop at the farmers market seasonally and avoid canned and /or processed foods as much as possible.
I work full time (as does my husband). I train 5+ days a week. I have family and social obligations to juggle along with an infant. I understand why it is so easy for tired, stressed out parents to grab cans, bags, boxes and jars of food for their children. Convenience goes a long way in our busy lives.
But, I owe it to my child to give him a great start in life nutritionally. If I won’t eat processed foods why should he? So my mission is to make fresh, nutritious baby foods at home for less than I would pay for already prepared foods from the store.
So yesterday I compiled my ingredients and jumped in. Honestly, it was cheaper, easier and faster than I thought it would be. I spent less than $10 dollars to make more than a month’s worth of food. My total time investment, including clean-up was only about an hour and a half.
I chose apples, peaches, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and beets.
The first step was figuring out how to make all these purees simultaneously. I decided to bake the butternut squash and the sweet potato. I would boil the beets, simmer the apples, and steam the carrots and peaches.
Fill a steamer pot with water and set on the stove to boil. Peel the carrots and cut into 1 inch pieces. Place carrots into the steamer basket and cover. Steam until softened, around 10 minutes. Remove carrots from basket and place in food processor. You can use a blender or hand held immersion blender if you prefer. Reserve the liquid from the steamer pot to thin out the puree if needed. Blend in food processor until smooth.
2 ripe peaches
Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Peel the skins and cut flesh into chunks. Place chunks into a steamer full of boiling water. Cover and steam for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and place peaches in food processor. Blend until smooth. You will not need to add water as this puree will be very thin already.
2 cups water
Place water in a medium sized saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat. Core, peel and slice apples. Place in saucepan. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Place apple chunks in food processor and blend until smooth.
Sweet Potato Puree
1 large sweet potato or yam
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the potato with a vegetable brush. Puncture the skin with a fork and place in a baking pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and slice open. Allow potato to rest until it is cool enough to handle. Scoop out flesh and place in food processor. Blend until smooth. It will be very thick so add a little water at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
3-4 medium sized beets
Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Scrub beets thoroughly and cut off the greens. Add beets to boiling water. Depending on the size it should take 30-40 minutes for the beets to be easily pierced by a knife. Drain the beets and blanch in cool water. Cut off tops and bottoms. The skins should peel off easily. Cut beets into small cubes and place in food processor. Puree until smooth.
Butternut Squash Puree
1 medium butternut squash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash in half and remove seeds. Place halves face down in a baking pan. Bake 30-40 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Remove squash from oven and allow to cool slightly until comfortable to handle. Scoop out skins and place in food processor. Puree until smooth. Add water as needed to achieve desired consistency.
I poured each puree into an ice cube tray and let them cool. This allows you to make individual one ounce servings that are easy to thaw and serve. I made sure to buy trays that come with lids. You could also cover them tightly with plastic wrap.
Once the puree cubes are frozen, you can pop them out of the trays and store them in labeled, dated freezer bags. Take out needed servings the night before and let them thaw in the fridge.
All that’s left to do is enjoy the look on your little one’s face as they experience new flavors and textures for the first time. That will always make a little time in the kitchen totally worth it.