Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Do You Make Your Baby's Food?

This month we're starting a new monthly feature - woot!

Since there are so many yummy recipes out there for homemade baby food, and so many of us want to make sure we are feeding our babes *the* best of everything, from breastmilk to natural and organic, non-processed baby food, we have decided to share some great recipes with you! The last Tuesday of the month, be looking for great recipes, tips and tricks for feeding your little one.

So, without further ado, check out July's baby food post from guest Heather Meehan:

I prefer making my own baby food as it is SO much healthier than the jar stuff. I know exactly what my baby is eating, where it came from, what is in it and how fresh it is. It is completely unprocessed and has no additives.

At times I feel like it is cheaper than jarred foods but the fresh fruits and veggies can get expensive in the off season. I do however feel the price is comparable. It is worth it to me to pay a little extra to have the best for my baby. I will only use fresh or frozen, never canned!

When my baby was about 5 1/2 months, I started a few simple things like avocado and banana. Those are both items that can be mashed with a fork and served raw. As I started adding new items...apples, pears, sweet potato, butternut squash...I cut them up, steamed or baked them to softer texture.

I then use a baby food grinder to grind up the foods to the texture I want. Much thinner when starting out and getting thicker and chunkier as she has gotten older. My grinder has 3 texture blades. You can certainly use a blender or food processor but I found an actual baby food grinder that I love. It was an ebay purchase. It was made in the 70's but had never been used. There is something to be said about products that were made back then. It is much like the Munchkin hand grinder you can find in retail stores. There are other great grinders like the Baby Bullet and the Brezza.

I cut and peel the fresh fruits, steam them to soften and grind. Frozen fruits, just let them thaw and grind. Things like peas, green beans and spinach, asparagus I wash, cut up, steam on the stove, let cool, grind. Sweet potatoes and butternut squash I bake in the oven for 1 hour, let cool and grind. Meats I brown up the ground turkey, grill the chicken and  grind.  You may need to add some water to the puree to get it to the consistency you need for your baby. You can add the water before you freeze or as I did, add breast milk when I was ready to serve it.

When it comes to freezing the food, I use ice cube trays with lids. I like them because they pre portion the foods for you. Once the food is in the trays, set them flat in the freezer until frozen solid. After they are frozen remove them from they tray. Easiest way to get the food out of the tray in to dip the bottom of the tray in hot water for a few seconds to loosen them. Transfer the food to a ziploc freezer bag. I would store them no longer than 3 months in a deep freeze. Much after that and they start to look freezer burnt.

Serving: When I started out I would use one cube of food. Let it thaw on the counter and serve. As your child gets older you can add more cubes and you can start to mix and match foods. We are serving quite a variety now. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, peas, avocado, asparagus, spinach, green beans, plums, apples, pears, peaches, mango, berry blend (frz mix), tropical fruit (frz mix), and mixed fruit (frz mix). We have recently added in grilled chicken breast and ground turkey.
For breakfast I serve 2-3 kinds of fruit (approx 5 cubes) mixed with breast milk and rice cereal. For lunch and dinner I choose 2 green veggies, 2 orange veggies, a meat and 2 fruits. (This is once you have introduced them all individually). Meal example: 2 cubes of spinach, 2 cubes of carrots, 2-3 cubes of apple and banana and a cube of chicken. Thaw and serve. When she was younger I would mix the fruit into the meat and veggies, now I serve it separate.

You should always introduce new foods 4-5 days apart in case of allergic reaction.
We are just starting to add in berries as they are very high in acid and at the top of the allergy list.

Storage: To make my life easier I purchase a couple packages of the Take and Toss bowls and stock them with a meal. When it is meal time I grab one out, thaw and serve. Simple. When I am on the run, grab a bowl, throw in the diaper bag and when lunch comes around, serve. Simple. I have even found many restaurants that will warm baby food for you.

It has all been trial and error for me but in the end it was very rewarding. You can prepare foods once a week or even once a month. If you have all the supplies on hand it really is quick and easy. There was not one food that my baby turned away. I wish I had been more willing to try this with my older daughter because it really is a much healthier option. 

~Heather L Meehan 


Kel said...

Two questions about how you work the frozen baby food. 1) Do you freeze the meat also? 2) When you put them in the grab and go containers, do you keep them in separate baggies to avoid them thawing into one big heap?

Heather said...

1. I do freeze the meat. After it is grilled or browned, I grind it up and mash it into the ice cube trays just as I do with the fruits and veggies.
2. I put the whole meal into one container to freeze, thaw and serve. When I first started it was just peas and carrots or peaches and plums. As she got older I added fruit and veggies together. Then later added the meat in. I mixed the whole meal together. You could store them individually but my daughter didnt mind it all mixed together. Now that she is older I mix the meat and veggie together and serve the fruit seperate.