Dec 19, 2012

Homemade Baby Food.

I have posted on my Facebook a few times about making my own baby food. It never fails that I get comments like "You're making the rest of us look bad!" or "How do you have the time?" If these mamas knew how easy it was, they would not be saying such crazy things! So, let me take a moment and share the secrets of baby food making with the easiest choices - carrots and sweet potatoes.

Carrots -

You will need a steaming basket, a pot, carrots, water, and preferably an immersion blender. Let's talk supplies for a moment.

A cook is as good as her tools, right? Well, let me share with you a few of my tools that have come in incredibly handy. First the steaming basket. My mom always used one of the traditional metal baskets, but I found one on amazon that is far easier to use, clean and store.

The Chef'n Sleekstor Veggiesteam

It is a soft silicon that fits right into the pan. I don't know what I would do without this gem.

You will also need way to purée the veggies once they are cooked. I highly recommend an immersion blender. They are so easy to use, clean and make creating wholesome food a breeze. Plus, they can be used for a host of other cooking projects, not just baby food, like the Breeza or other baby food making devices. And if you needed another reason to get one, they are reasonably priced! I looked at a baby food maker when my first born was tiny, and I was shocked no find that they ran a couple hundred dollars. Well, $10 for the steamer and $32.75 for the blender is a much better price! Yes, that's right, $32.75 currently on amazon for the Cuisinart Immersion Blender.

Isn't it pretty? Mine is just silver - sure do wish they made the hot pink one when I was in the market a couple years ago!

Ok, now back to the food making!

1. Peel carrots and cut into chunks or slices.

2. In a sauce pan that will hold your steaming basket, bring one or two inches of water to a boil. You want the water to be just under the basket.

3. Place cut carrots in the steamer, set the timer for 10 minutes, put the lid on the pot, and go do something fun... Or wrangle your children if you are like me.

10 minutes later...

4. Drain the water, put carrots in a bowl and use your immersion blender to whip the heck out of those carrots. I love this part. I love the sound the machine makes, I love how the carrots squish out of the blender, haha. It's good fun. If you want thinner baby food, you can add a bit of water to obtain your desired consistency.

See, wasn't that easy??

Now, for sweet potatoes.

My preferred method of cooking sweet potatoes is by baking. It takes a bit longer, but I usually stick them in the oven while I am doing something else, so it isn't time wasted. You can also use the microwave, but for some reason "wholesome" and "microwave" just don't go together in my mind.

1. Wash the skin of the potatoes and poke a few holes in the potato.

2. Wrap potatoes in foil and bake at 400 for about an hour.

3. Peel or cut in half and scoop out the meat.

4. Again with the immersion blender.

Now, what do you do with the gobs of deliciousness that you have made? What I usually do is take a ice cube tray (a simple one that I got 2/$1 at the dollar store - don't feel the need to give in to the gimmick of ice cube trays with lids) and fill the slots with baby food. A lesson I learned the hard way - try to keep the food in the individual slots, not covering the whole thing. This helps for easier removal. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. The next day, you can pop the food cubes out and put them in a freezer bag so they are ready to go when you need them, and so you can make more food (or ice) if you so desire.

There are also baby foods that require no cooking or blending - try mashed up banana or avocado for an easy treat!

Not convinced? Let me break it down even further for you. Here are a few benefits of making your own baby food.

1. Cost - a jar of baby food costs about 85 cents for one serving. I spent about 60 cents for a half a pound of carrots and about a dollar for 2 sweet potatoes. This made about 10-12 servings! Hmm, $10 or $2?? The math is simple.

2. No additives, no preservatives, no extra sodium, organic and locally grown if you so choose. The health of our wee ones is important!

3. It's easy. My total work time for this project was about 15 minutes. And the hardest part is cutting the carrots!

4. You can SEE exactly what is going in to your baby's food. Choline bitartrate? Sure, choline is a good thing, but why do we need to add it to the food? Because the ingredients are not choice.

5. It's like crack. Baby crack. Healthy baby crack! Both of my girls gave noticeably more enthusiastic responses to home made baby food as opposed to jarred food.

Now, let me say - I still buy jarred food. It's easy to throw in the bag in case you aren't sure how long you'll be out. It's good for road trips - it offers an easy way to offer variety. But the bulk of what I feed my girls is mama made, and I highly encourage you to at least give it a shot!