I’m doing something a little different today. OK, a lot different.
Today, we’re talking homemade baby food. If this does not interest you (and I’m going to go ahead and assume that it doesn’t interest MOST of you), just skip this post. For those of you who are new parents or soon-to-be parents, then this may be mildly interesting to you. I say mildly because baby food can only be so exciting…even to us new parents (PS – when do I stop calling myself a “new” mom?! Kieran is almost 9 months old now, which is both mind blowing and terrifying. Does that make me a seasoned veteran now? Because I certainly don’t feel that way. Maybe parents never do?). Let’s face it: baby food can be boring.
BUT! I still think sharing my approach to the whole first-solid-foods thing is OK. It’s real life at the moment, and I do try to keep this whole blog thing as “real” as possible.
First, let me preface with this: I DO NOT MAKE ALL OF KIERAN’S FOOD. Nope. Definitely not. I don’t have the interest/time/patience to do so. I take full advantage of what the store has to offer in the way of packaged organic baby food. I buy his baby oatmeal premade, even though I am well aware of how easy it would be to make it myself at home. I still buy a few packs of those organic baby food pouches every week. Take help where you can get it. That was my first take away with this whole process. In a perfect world, babies would be breastfeed until they were 12 months old without an ounce of formula needed and would be fed nothing but homemade-from-scratch-organic baby food. Real life doesn’t always look like that. Do what you can.
Secondly, I started off making ZERO of his food from scratch. Why? Because I wasn’t sure what he would like/dislike, and I didn’t want to invest a ton of time/energy/money in something he would end up refusing to eat. So, I went with a trial-and-error approach of buying a few pouches of different organic baby food purees and letting him tell me which ones were his faves…and which were not so much. Then, I would let that inform my own homemade recipes. “He loves applesauce? Great! I’ll make him applesauce. He didn’t really seem into that butternut squash. Maybe I’ll hold off on roasting/pureeing my own for now.”
Turns out, I have a very adventurous little eater on my hands! The only foods that Kieran has REALLY not liked so far are mashed bananas and mashed avocados. It’s totally a texture thing because when I add those foods to other mixes, he doesn’t seem to mind. See? Trial and error all the way.
Thirdly, I just want to say that my intent is not to turn this into a baby-food-focused blog. Not at all. This is still going to be a very adult-food-focused place. When people would find out that I was pregnant, one of the first things they tended to say was “OH! Now you can post baby food recipes on the blog!!!” And in my head, while nodding and smiling politely, I would say “Hell no. Who wants to read about that?!” Well, here I am, doing just that. It’s just one of the many “I’ll never do that” things that went out the window as soon as I was living the parent reality, hah. But this is my life. And I like sharing it with you.
When Kieran approached the six months mark, I knew introducing solid foods would be the next adventure. While I knew that a store-bought-homemade-hybrid method was what I was going to use, I found myself scouring the internet for homemade baby food recipes. What came out of my searches was this: most people simply puree fruits, vegetables, or a combination of both. At least in the beginning. And then things get weird. Pureed meat? Um. I don’t know about that. I haven’t tried that out yet. I’ll keep you posted…
In the meantime, I’m sharing recipes for five homemade fruit-veggie purees that we use ALL THE TIME in our house. Kieran loves them all. All of the recipes below use all organic ingredients, but that aspect is totally up to you. My husband and I eat a mostly organic diet wherever possible, and I wanted to carry that over into anything I was feeding Kieran. I’m trying to control what goes into his body while I can. Again, though, if organic is not your thing or not in your budget, adjust the ingredients accordingly. The method is the same! Our pediatrician told us that all fruits and veggies were safe to puree from the get go at six months, but I highly recommend that you get your pediatrician’s approval before introducing any new foods/food groups to your child. The introducing-one-food-at-a-time rule still applies!
Most of the purees require cooking of the ingredients first to ensure a silky smooth texture. You’ll see the cooking methods outlined for each puree. You’ll also see that every puree should be blended thoroughly before serving. “Puree” already implies that, but I just want to make it crystal clear for safety reasons. I use my Blentec blender for all of the recipes listed. You could also use a food processor, but I find that a high-powered blender really does wonders when it comes to achieving that completely smooth consistency.
Also, the recipes below do not specify how much water each puree requires (I do specify in some cases, though). This is due to a couple factors: (1) I cannot predict how much water or liquid your ingredients will require, and (2) these purees can be tailored completely to your texture preference by adjusting the liquid amounts. For instance, if you are feeding a 9-month-old, like me, you may not need to puree things as super smoothly as you would if you were feeding a 6-month-old. So while I usually do not specify the amount of water required, I recommend starting off small (¼ to ½ cup?) and adding more as needed. In every case, you’ll probably end up needing less than you think. ALSO, you can definitely sub in breast milk or formula for the water in these recipes.
For storage, I bought a few of these freezer trays. I LOVE THEM. I make the puree and spoon/pour it into these molds, pop them in the freezer for a few hours, and then transfer the frozen baby food cubes into resealable and labeled plastic bags. They make for easy portion control, and the food cubes pop out of the trays very easily. They have been key to me making and storing various purees on a regular basis. I usually plan to make one or two purees a week, and most of the recipes below will provide at least two weeks’ worth of servings. When I want to serve, I take a few food cubes out of the freezer at a time and allow them to defrost in a serving container on the counter (or fridge if I’m not using them that same day). I have had no texture issues with any of the recipes below once they are defrosted. They all hold up well in the freezer.
The very first homemade puree I made for Kieran was the blueberry-pear applesauce. After seeing how much he took to it, I got excited and started on prunes next. Prunes, while I hate to bring this up, really help babies when solid foods are first introduced. They can get, ahem, a little backed up, if you know what I mean. Prunes, as you may expect, help a ton! (And yes, I just broke another one of my “I’ll never do/talk about that” pre-parenting mantras) Kieran actually loved the flavor of prunes, so while his digestion has adjusted since they were first introduced, we still give him prunes every day. He still gobbles them up enthusiastically!
The rest of the purees followed suit. I combined foods that I knew he liked and masked those he didn’t. So far, so good!
Making baby food doesn’t have to be complicated. And it doesn’t have to be a requirement, either. Do what works for you, even if that means buying all of the food premade at the store. Luckily, there are some top-notch baby food options available today. Me? Well, I love prepping food for Kieran just as much as I love prepping meals for adults. It’s been a fun adventure for me, and while I certainly take help from the store when I need it, I do feel some gratification when I know exactly (and I mean EXACTLY) what Kieran is eating. It’s been really fun!
I’ll touch back if I decide to dabble in the pureed meat arena. For now…enjoy these safe and less-gag-worthy recipes! And for any new parents out there, please share any recipes that you use for your kiddos in the comments! I’m always looking for new ideas.
I think it’s safe to say these have earned Kieran’s stamp of approval.
Blueberry-Pear Applesauce — makes 40 1.5-oz servings
2 organic pears, diced
4 organic apples, diced
1 (16-oz) bag frozen organic blueberries, defrosted
Place the pears, apples, and blueberries (with their juices) into a crockpot or regular saucepot. If using the crock pot, add a splash of water to the mix, cover, and cook on HIGH for 4 hours, or until the fruit is extremely soft and almost falling apart. If cooking on the stove, add a splash of water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes or until the fruit is extremely soft and almost falling apart. Cool completely and then puree the entire mixture (liquid included) in a blender/food processor until completely smooth. Divide among serving containers or freezer trays and keep cold/frozen until ready to serve. Serve defrosted puree directly from the fridge.
Prune Puree — makes 40 1.5-oz servings
2 cups organic prunes (I buy mine in bulk online)
3 cups water
Place the prunes in a medium pot and add the water. You want enough water to cover the prunes by an inch. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until the prunes are very soft. Remove from heat and allow the prunes to steep in the water until completely cool. Puree the entire mixture (liquid included) in a blender/food processor until completely smooth. Divide among serving containers or freezer trays and keep cold/frozen until ready to serve. Serve defrosted puree directly from the fridge.
NOTE: This was the one puree that required a lot of liquid for blending. Prunes tend to have a gummy, thick texture when pureed, so add as much water as needed to achieve a not-too-thick and smooth consistency.
Mango-Banana Puree — makes 20 1.5-oz servings
3 ripe medium organic bananas, peeled and diced
1 (16-oz) bag frozen organic mangoes, defrosted
No cooking is needed for this puree. Combine the banana, mango, any liquid from defrosting the mangos, and a splash of water to a blender of food processor. Puree until completely smooth, adding more water as needed. Divide among serving containers or freezer trays and keep cold/frozen until ready to serve. Serve defrosted puree directly from the fridge.
Pea-Spinach-Avocado Puree – makes 40 1.5-oz servings
6 cups organic baby spinach, washed well
1 (16-oz) bag of frozen organic peas
2 ripe Haas avocados, peeled, seeded, and diced
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and insert a steamer basket. Add the spinach leaves to the steamer and cook until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the spinach from the steamer basket and submerge in ice water. Once cool, squeeze completely dry (I use a clean kitchen towel for this) and add to a blender. Add the peas, avocado, and splash of water to the blender. Puree until completely smooth, adding more water as needed. Divide among serving containers or freezer trays and keep cold/frozen until ready to serve. Serve defrosted puree directly from the fridge.
Broccoli-Potato-Apple Puree – makes 40 1.5-oz servings
2 medium organic Russet potatoes
1 head of organic broccoli, diced
2 organic apples, diced
NOTE: I made this puree after a steak dinner at home with my husband. We had baked potato and broccoli on the side of our steaks, and I knew in advance that I wanted to try a baked potato-veggie puree for the baby. So, I baked two extra potatoes alongside our own, and I cooked an extra head of broccoli with some apples. Methods below.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and poke the potatoes with a fork all over. Place them on a baking rack set over a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until very tender. Set aside to cool and then dice. Meanwhile, place the broccoli and apples in a pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes, or until both the broccoli and apple are very tender and almost falling apart. Add the potato, broccoli, and apple to the blender along with some of the cooking liquid from the broccoli and apples. Puree until smooth, adding more water as needed. Divide among serving containers or freezer trays and keep cold/frozen until ready to serve. Serve defrosted puree directly from the fridge.