Saturday, August 21, 2010

Try It, You’ll Like It (Big Flavors for Little Palates)

Anna's First Foods

* Disclaimer: This is just a little bit about our journey and simply my opinions. Please consult your doctor about how and when to introduce solid foods to your baby.

My baby girl is getting ready for the wide world of solid foods. I can’t believe she is growing so fast! This means that my kitchen is about to get messier (is that even possible?!) and my food processor will once again take center stage on my counter.

I choose to make our own baby food for several reasons:
• I have complete control over what goes into each bite.
• The food retains more nutrients.
• The flavor is truer to the original food than what you find in most jars.
• I cook from scratch for the rest of my family, so it is only natural that I want to do it for my littlest eater as well.

This weekend I made several starter foods for her that are simple flavors I can enhance.
• Sweet Potatoes – It’s a great first food! Once she is established with it, then I will add a little bit of ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg as well.
• Peas – I pureed half of the peas with some fresh mint for a bright flavor and a little variety.
• Carrots – Ground ginger is nice to pair with the carrots.
• Peaches – Fresh summer peaches can’t be beat!

These recipes will keep Anna busy over the next couple of weeks while I plot my next round of pureeing for her.

Here is my basic process for pureeing fruits and vegetables for baby food:
• Wash the fruit/vegetable
• Peel if necessary (I peel carrots prior to cooking but wait to remove most other skins until after the food is cooked. The skins will be easier to remove and will help the food to retain flavor and nutrients.)
• Cut into similar-sized pieces so they cook at the same rate
• Steam until soft. I prefer to use a steam basket on the stove and never use the microwave.
• Allow the food to cool until it is comfortable to touch; remove outer skins if necessary.
• Puree in a food processor to desired consistency. I make it silky smooth in the beginning and then a little thicker as they grow and develop.
• I prefer to use the snack-size bags and freeze them flat to allow for easy storage. You might also choose to freeze in those handy baby food freezer trays, plastic freezer jars, or larger zip-top freezer bags.
• Label the bag with the contents and date it is being frozen. You might also add the amount in the bag (1 cup, 4 ounces, etc.) if that is important to you.
• Use within 3 months for best results.
• To use, place the bag in the refrigerator and allow to thaw overnight.

Babies are armed with lots of taste buds that are ready to try new flavors! Introduce them slowly to allow baby time to adjust and to observe for allergic reactions, but don’t be afraid to introduce herbs and spices along with your fruits and vegetables.

Originally published June 7, 2010

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