I'm very lucky to have a bunch of really great kids in my life. My two godsons Nathan (3, he's also my nephew) and Tripp (2), and my niece Kaitlyn (1) are pretty much the most awesome kids I could ever ask for.
The problem is that they all live 100-200 miles away from me and I don't see them as often as I should, and I missed out on their first bites of baby food. Now my friend Alicia has a new little one and he's about 3 months old already. This little cutie I get to see quite often! And in the next month or two, he will probably be ready for his first taste of something other than breast milk.
Good, real food is important to me (clearly! I've dedicated over 2.5 years to documenting it on this blog!) and I think babies should get the good stuff from the start. I decided I'd like to make him some wholesome, local, organic, baby food from ingredients I find at the Farmer's Market this summer. I'm sure the jarred stuff from the store is nutritious, but it's probably expensive, likely includes some type of preservative to keep that long on the shelf, and produces lots of waste with all those tiny jars.
If you want to make your own baby food, don't listen to me. Do some research and talk to a doctor (I'm not one, nor am I even a mom). But in general, the internet says you should avoid allergen-prone foods (like eggs, nuts, honey, soy, wheat, etc), don't add any salt or sugar, puree things very well, and strain anything that appears too fibrous for very young babies.
I found carrots and green beans at the Farmer's Market this week, steamed them in a bit of water, pureed them in my food processor, and froze them in ice cube trays. I thought the pureed vegetables tasted great, so I think the baby will like them too. Then as a treat, I used very non-local bananas and a mango from the grocery store for baby's dessert. This was so good, I had a whole bowl of it myself.
In the end, I got 53 servings of baby food (1 oz each) for a total cost of $12.50. That's 23.5 cents per serving for homemade baby food made from in-season local and organic vegetables (and the fruit too). All Alicia needs to do is each night put one frozen cube of baby food into a small glass container in the fridge for the next day. By morning it should be thawed and ready to be fed to the baby straight or mixed with rice cereal or breast milk.
My goal is to track what's in season for the next 2-3 months and continue to make more portions of squash, sweet potatoes, beets, spinach, applesauce, and anything else I can get my hands on! All recipes inspired by or taken directly from Smitten Kitchen Baby.
Green and Lean Baby Carrots
4 small bunches carrots from the Farmer's Market, washed, peeled, and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup water
Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 35 minutes or until carrots are soft, adding more water if needed. Scoop out carrots and puree in food processor, adding water as needed to get a smooth consistency. Freeze in ice cube trays, then transfer to a labeled freezer storage bag.
Green and Lean Baby Green Beans
1 basket of green beans from the Farmer's Market, washed, stems removed, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup water
Use same method as described above for carrots, but only need to simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Green and Lean Baby Banana-Mango Dessert
1 mango, diced into 1/2 inch chunks
2 bananas, sliced into 1/2 inch coins
1/2 cup water
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 15 minutes or until mango is soft. Cool slightly and puree. Because mangoes have stringy fibers, you should probably press the mixture through a fine mesh strainer if the intended eater is a young baby (under 6 months). This is a pain in the butt, but worth it. Then freeze in ice cube trays as described above.
ONE YEAR AGO: Creamy Cucumber Salad
TWO YEARS AGO: Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza