Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Food. Glorious Food.

My first experience with baby food was in a dog obedience class when I was about 7 months pregnant. Our doggie decided he didn't like the training treats we were offering. The instructor suggested we try chicken baby food, so we went and bought some. Wow. No wonder the dog loves this stuff. It smells just like dog food. I can't believe babies will eat this stuff! I kind of gagged every time I opened a jar. I was immediately turned off of baby food. So, when it came time to start my little dude on solids I was already prepared to make my own baby food. I love cooking, so I was looking forward to making baby food. I did some research and luckily found that making baby food is incredibly easy, and inexpensive.

The Basics

Here is what you need to make baby food:

A food steamer, or something else to steam food in.  (I have a nice Black and Decker food steamer that I love, but you can do it on the stove just as easily) 
A blender or food processor. (I use a simple immersion blender.  Super convenient.)

That's pretty much it.

It is incredibly easy. I'll give you an example.

Carrot Baby Food

Steam about a pound of cleaned, peeled carrots until they are fork tender or "mushy". Let them cool slightly then purée, adding a little water as needed.

That's it! Baby Food!

You can prepare just about any kind of baby food this way. Even meats, though baking chicken just seems more natural to me than steaming it.

Now, think of how much money you can save doing this. Not only because you aren't paying for the packaging, but most baby food has added water and I would rather not pay for that. Plus, you can use foods from your own garden, the farmer's market or choose the best organic stuff out there. And you always know exactly what your little person is eating.

Last weekend I spent about 2 hours and $30 making baby food. Here are the results:

My freezer stocked with mangoes, peaches, broccoli, carrots, chicken, sweet potatoes, blueberries, avocado, peas, bananas, zucchini, apples, green beans and beets.

This will last my little dude for weeks.

Here's what I did:

I started the oven and baked a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I also threw a sweet potato in there. Meanwhile, I cleaned and peeled the beets and put them in the steamer. I bought a small bag of baby carrots so I didn't have to bother peeling them. I threw the carrots in the steamer as well as a peeled, sliced zucchini. I also steamed some apples (peeled) and peaches. I just used a bag of frozen peaches. I had a bag of frozen blueberries as well as frozen mangoes. I stewed each of these by putting them in a small sauce pan with about 1/4 cup water. Just let them simmer until they were soft, then purée.

While all of this was going on I put a steam cook bag of peas in the microwave. I also used the steam cook bags of green beans and broccoli. Again, cook them, let them cool and then purée, adding a little water as needed. (For the chicken, I used the pan juices instead of water) Lastly, I pureed a few bananas and an avocado; no need to steam these. I poured the purees in ice cube trays. Once they were frozen I put the cubes in labeled freezer bags. Now, when it's meal time, I just thaw a few cubes for my little dude.

If you want more info on making your own baby food, more recipes, or you want more info about what foods to give your baby and when, you have to check out Wholesome Baby They have all of the info you could ever possibly need for feeding your baby solids.

By the way...I am now making my dog's training treats too. He seems to like the homemade chicken baby food even better than the canned stuff, and I don't gag when I give him his treats anymore.

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