Friday, May 20, 2011

Homemade Baby Food: Veggies

After the initial introduction of solids, I moved into veggies for lunch and dinner. This happened at around 7 months. At this point I also started sending food to daycare. Like I explained here, I focused on thick purees for daycare and soft chunks for eating at home. By this time Evan's gag reflex had passed and he was really excited to try more things. He still had the same amount of breastmilk/formula intake, the veggies were added for exploration and experience. They also helped him feel satiated for longer (since he was actually getting the veggies down), so it helped him sleep through the night!

Since 7 months I have been making the same veggies and adding different varieties or preparing them in different combinations as he gets older. I refer to Cooking Light's First Foods baby cookbook often (for a bit more description check this out) . I also used From Animal Crackers to Wild West Beans which has a bunch of great ideas geared toward the vegetarian baby. At 7 months I followed the recipes, then started experimenting on my own at 8 months. I didn't let the book dictate what recipes I was "allowed" to make. Even if a recipe was listed in the 8-12 month section but I was cooking for my 7 month old, I adapted the recipe to fit his abilities. I like this cookbook because they provide recipes that are healthy and great for the whole family. Low in sugar and fats, they use seasoning and natural flavors to give the dishes taste. I love it!

Cooking for Evan has made me change my eating habits and try new things, too. When I prepare dinner, I don't want to make a dinner for Evan and a dinner for John and I just because we are eating something unhealthy. It's been eye-opening to evaluate what I've been eating!

Below I list the veggies I prepare. I use a pot of water and metal steamer to steam. I use the magic bullet or a potato masher to mush stuff up. For freezing purees, I drop cooled food into ice cube trays, freeze then transfer to a ziploc bag. For freezing chunks, I put them on a cookie sheet (to prevent a huge block of food from forming) and freeze then transfer to ziploc bag.

Here's a list of veggies (and how I prepare them):

  1. Sweet potatoes. Wrap tightly in foil, place on a cookie sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Let cool, remove skin and either puree add breastmilk/water as needed OR cut into chunks for baby to pick up. 
  2. Butternut squash/Acorn squash. Cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds, place face down in a pan with a half inch of water and cook in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Let cool, cut out flesh and puree OR cut into cubes. 
  3. Peas. Steam frozen peas for 6 minutes then puree, adding liquid if needed OR serve leave whole for baby to pick up. 
  4. Broccoli. Cut "trees" and steam until fork tender or soft. I never pureed because the built-in handle was so great for Evan to practice with. 
  5. Parsnip and apple soup. Peel, trim and dice the parsnip and apple. Place parsnip in boiling water, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add apple and cook 10 more minutes. Drain and puree. 
  6. Carrot soup. Saute diced, yellow onion and a bag of baby carrots in a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for 10 minutes. Add a bit of chopped ginger and cook 1 more minute. Add a carton of chicken stock or vegetable stock (you could even do half a carton and a cup of water). Simmer 30 minutes. Let cool a bit then puree in batches or use an immersion blender. I eat this and it's yummy!
  7. Zucchini. Peel, cube, steam then puree OR leave whole for baby to pick up.
  8. Asparagus. Trim, cut into 1 inch pieces and steam for 10 minutes or until very tender. Puree adding liquid as needed OR leave the very tips (the softest parts) for baby to pick up.
  9. Mixed veggies. Steam some frozen mixed veggies (like peas and carrots or green beans, corn and carrots) until soft then puree OR leave whole for baby to pick up.
Of course, this is only a small portion of what I make. I use my imagination to combine veggies or pair with pasta, rice or couscous. You can't go wrong, really, just don't use salt! Also, don't underestimate your baby's taste buds, they want to explore this new world! 

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