I’m finally getting around to posting some baby food recipes, or, really, more like tactics and tips. With our first, I did cereal and then purees starting around six months. I stuck with vegetables for the purees because I figured he would grow up to love fruit anyway, so I didn’t need to worry about introducing fruits. Jasper loved real food and didn’t need purees for long before he was preferring whatever we had on our plates.
After our second, I’m realizing that Jasper was (and is) an out-of-the-ordinary eater. He will try anything, he eats a ton, and he eats really well. Maeve was a bit of slow starter, but she’s getting better. I had to change my tactics a bit with her when it came to real food. I was lazy with Maeve, and she didn’t seem all that interested, so we didn’t try real food until she was about seven-months old. I had read up on baby-led weaning between the two kids, and I wanted to focus more on that with baby number two. So we started off with just giving her very bite-sized pieces of whatever veggies were on our plate. She was not a big fan. Her hand-eye coordination wasn’t really up for it, and she had trouble even getting the food in her grasp. After a few weeks of us both getting increasingly frustrated, I decided to go back to what had worked with Jasper: making our baby food. Here are some “recipes” that I’ve used:
1 cup old-fashioned oats (I usually have steel-cut on hand, so that’s what I used, but rolled are fine too)
2 cups water
1-2 tsp cinnamon
Optional: chopped fruit (we like apples, pears, and bananas)
Put the oats in a food processor and pulse for several minutes until the oats are very fine. You don’t want to go too far or it will turn into oat flour. Add the oats and water to a pot on the stove, bring to a boil, add the cinnamon, and then cook on low for at least twenty minutes. You may need to add additional water. If you’re adding fruit, add it at the beginning, so that it softens up and sweetens the oatmeal.
Once the oatmeal is finished, I put it in a glass container in the fridge. I scoop out enough for Maeve each morning and warm up her portion in the microwave. I add a little milk (or breast milk/formula for younger babies) to thin out the consistency.
I first tried straight pumpkin with Maeve. Jasper loved squash of all kinds as a baby, so I figured his sister might be similar. I had a few pie pumpkins leftover from Thanksgiving. I just cut off the tops, cut them in half, cleaned out the insides, then roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. After removing them from the oven, I let them cool completely (about another hour). Then I peeled the skins off, put the pumpkin “meat” in the food processor, and pureed the pumpkin into a fine consistency. The pumpkin typically has enough moisture to it, but if you need a little extra, I typically add homemade stock.
Sweet potatoes, turnips, beets, carrots, potatoes
Both of our kids have pretty much eaten anything with sweet potatoes in it, so I like to have those on hand for picky days. For sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, and carrots, my process stays the same: preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash, peel, and chop the vegetables into similarly-sized chunks. Dump vegetable chunks into a large bowl, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil (depends on how many vegetables you have – you want them to be lightly coated), then add your seasonings of choice. I usually at least do a little salt and pepper, but the sky is the limit here (side note: if you’re already making dinner, just double your portion of vegetables and eat some for dinner and reserve the rest for baby food). Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet (or two depending on how much you’re doing at one time), and put the baking sheets in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Rotate the pans at about the halfway point to ensure that everything is cooked evenly. Once the veggies have cooled, throw them in the food processor (again, add some stock if you want to thin in out a bit) and puree until your desired consistency.
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, onions
I like to roast these stronger-flavored veggies to have on hand to add to sweet potatoes or carrots. The kids tend to grow to like them on their own, but I lull them into it by having one of their favorites to go along with it. With Maeve, I’ve gotten a little lazy and just throw these veggies in with the sweeter vegetables above and make one big puree. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and cut vegetables into similarly-sized pieces. Dump veggies into a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil. I like to season these with fresh garlic and salt and pepper, but, again, feel free to experiment. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet (or two) and throw in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Once they’ve cooled, put them in a food processor and puree to your desired consistency (adding stock to thin out if necessary).
For all of these “recipes,” I use the same message of storage: once they’re pureed, I spread the food evenly among ice cube trays and freeze them. Once they’re completely frozen, I dump them in a plastic bag that I keep in the freezer for all of the baby food “cubes.” As far as consistency goes, when the kids are just starting on solid foods (six months or later), I pureed them more finely and, therefore, had to add more stock. As they got older, I used little or no stock, so that the resulting purees were pretty thick and a chunkier consistency.
As I mentioned, we tried baby-led weaning exclusively with Maeve at first, but she just wasn’t getting it. She’s now eleven-months old, and she mostly eats whatever we’re eating. But sometimes life gets crazy, and I need to throw something quick together for the kids. Or, like this week, she’s been sick and gets frustrated quickly at picking up food and would prefer to be fed. The purees are nice to have on hand, so that I know that she’s getting her vegetables even if we’re in a hurry or she’s not feeling well. With both kids, we’ve tried to have easy stuff on hand that they can eat on their own like avocado, bananas, and mangos (which especially comes in handy while I’m trying to get dinner on the table).
How are you feeding your kiddos?