Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Foods - Stage One: Basic Purees

The recipes on this page are intended to be the first meals that you will make your little one as they begin solid foods (possibly around 4 months, though some people wait until 6 months or later to start their little one on solids. Since it is suggested the you follow the "4 day rule" (see below) when introducing a new food, I have set this section up to include only single ingredient puree's (though you will note that in some I have also included multi-ingedient altenatives). As your baby progresses through the first foods and had built up the number of food for which allergies have been ruled out you will want to visit the "First Foods - Stage One: Combo's" section wich will still include very simple and very pureed meals but the recipes will begin to combine two or more food items.

As you are begining this adventure with your baby keep in mind the following:
- The "4 day rule"
- feed your baby the same single item for 4 days in a row to confirm that there is no allergy.
- You can combine two foods (even if you are still in the "4 day rule" stage as long as your baby has had one of the two items for at least 4 days and you have ruled out an alergy to that item
- Whenever possible use fresh fruits and veggies to make baby food. When using frozen fruits and veggies be sure to check the label. You will want to make sure they haven't added sugar, salt, etc...many times the package will read "fresh frozen".
- My favorite appliance for baby food making is my steamer...if you are going to buy one baby food making product thats the one I would go with - Choose mild foods at the beginning, this will allow your little one to adjust to eating (this is why many choose rice cereal as baby's first food)
- They may only eat a spoonful or two at each feeding as they begin solid foods - it is tempting to try to get them to eat more, but remember this is a brand new thing for them. Let your baby guide you.
- Your baby may seem disinterested, keep in mind that this is all new to them...they will catch on after the first few days
- It may seem as if your baby doesn't like these new foods, keep trying them out (especially if you are in the "4 day rule" stage)
- Talk to your peditrician about recommendations for first foods
- some doctors suggest rice cereal, but others are fine with you jumping right into veggies/fruits.
- Although they say don't give your baby milk before 1, you can cook with it for your baby as he/she gets older. The reason for the 1 year rule for milk is that they don't want milk to replace the formula in your baby's diet. As you begin to look at my Stage 2 and Stage 3 recipes you will see that they will begin to include milk as an ingredient.
- It WILL be messy...plan accordingly and don't wear your favorite outfit to feed baby for the 1st time especially if it won't clean up well

See my First Foods - Stage One: Basic Purees recipes listed below:
Baby Oatmeal:
Banana Puree:
Pear Puree:
Apricot Puree:
Applesauce (for baby and the whole family):
Sweet Potato:

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I want to start by saying thanks for visiting my baby food blog, I hope that I can provide you with great tips, helpful hints and baby food recipes to help you incorporate baby food making into you busy schedule. I will admit that with my first child making baby food wasn't even a discussion...we used store bought baby food it was easy convenient and we could always keep an extra jar in the diaper bag.  Honestly, even when I was pregnant with my second and a friend said that she was making baby food for her baby, I thought she was crazy.  However, when our second little guy came along, my husband and I discussed making baby food and went back and forth a bit.  We ended up deciding that we would start by making his baby food and we would see how it went.  It ended up being one of the easiest (and enjoyable) things that I have done.  I found a new love for my steamer, my mini food processor and my local produce market. 

My little guy (who is now almost 11 month old) started on baby food after his four month doctor appointment.  Please note that many pediatricians recommend waiting until six months so please talk to your pediatrician prior to starting your baby on food.  By the time my little guy was 9 months old (maybe even sooner) he would eat fruit...we would have to help him hold it a first and then we would need to be really close to make sure he wasn't taking bites that were too big.  We still watch him every moment that he is eating, but I can hand him a peach and he will eat it. 

I am not at all the kind of person who would suggest that you HAVE to make your own baby food.  I didn't make it for my first and he is perfectly fine.  I would however challenge you to try it.  It really is simple and it takes no time at all.  Even as an early stage eater they can east just about any veggie that you are offering the rest of the family for dinner you will just need a couple extra minutes to puree.  Have your husband or an older child set the table...by the time they are done you will have the baby's food ready.  You don't have to make the baby's food all of the time, but I think if you try it you will find that it is a lot easier than anticipated.

What you will find here:
Currently you can find some of my favorite first food recipe's along with some of my favorite "for baby and family" ones along with some posts on how to get started.  As the site gets up and running I will continually be adding new recipes, seasonal recipes, holiday recipes so that you can ensure that you baby can really be a part of eating with the family.

Who is this site for?
Obviously it is for parent who is making baby food for their little one, whether you make it regularly or just occasionally this will help you figure out the easiest way to incorporate baby food making into you life. 
However, you will see as you begin reading that most of my recipes (excluding the true stage 1 comparable puree's) will have modifications for the whole family.  For example, make a Turkey Meatloaf with apples and you can puree it with veggies for the baby, for you toddler or preschooler try turkey meatloaf sticks with warm applesauce or cranberry and apple compote and veggie sticks and for the older children / adults make a Thanksgiving Panini with the cranberry and apple compote (above) and sweet potato fries. 
These modifications make this blog a perfect one for those parents who don't want to prepare 3 different meals every night....you can make one base meal and with almost no additional cooking time you can have multiple variations (from baby up to the adults).  This may also be a blog that you want to check out just to get some ideas on meal variations for "leftover night".

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Super Easy Pearsauce for Baby (and the whole family)

This is an alternative to applesauce which is just as easy to prepare, has just as many uses and can be served to the whole family. This can be served as a firt food for your baby or can simply be converted into a delicious side dish for the whole family.


1. Peel pears and cut into slices/chunks

2. Place slices/chunks into a pan with a little bit of water not completely covering the pears (this can be prepared on the stove or in the oven)

3. Put a lid to cover the pan and let the pears steam until tender (the consistency that you cook to will be determined by your baby's stage of eating.


It doesn't get much easier than that!!!! I love this recipe for a couple of reasons (1) there is no prep work except for peeling a few pears and (2) you can throw it in the oven with whatever you have cooking.


What to do once the pears are cooked:

For baby:

1.) Put the steamed pears into your blender, food processor, etc...

2.) Add some cooking liquid (or water), if needed for desired consistency


*Serve this to baby as plain pearsauce or mix with other fruit purees, veggie purees (pureed pears go great with squash or sweet potato's and I can even get my 5 year old who won't touch a veggie to eat it) or meat purees (chicken with pears). Pearsauce with cheeries is a favorite in our house.


For older baby - who likes some consistency:

1.) Use your blender, food processor, etc... to break down the pears to smaller more manageable pieces or at this stage you should be able to mash them fairly easily too

2.) or just let them cool and dice them

3.) Once they are 8-10 month old (talk to you pediatrician first) you can add spices too, try a little bit of cinnamon or a cinnamon and nutmeg mixture


*Serve to you older baby as plain pearsauce, mixed with meat or veggies, as finger food (pear dices). If you plan to serve as finger foods you will want to barely cook them so that they still have enough consistency for you little one to pick up.

**If they are too slippery for your little one to pick up, throw some cheerios in the food processor and grind them down into a powder, roll the pear dices in the cheerio powder to make them less slippery (I can't take credit for this idea, I borrowed it from wholesomebabyfood.com)


For you toddler:

1.) You can mash up / dice and serve as an pearsauce

2.) Or serve the way it is (just cutting into smaller pieces as necessary) in place as an alternative to baked apples/pears

3.) For you toddler you can begin to make fun modifications: add spices (as noted above), sprinkle a little brown sugar on top, add raisins or dried cranberries (or other dried fruits)


*Once your toddler is at the age where consistency is no longer a problem you can do just about anything with these pears. You can mix pears with just about any fruit for yummy variations to this pearsauce. Instead of steaming, cook down some cranberries on the stove add pears and have a cranberry pearsauce which is a great compliment for chicken and turkey, or use this to replace those yucky jar cranberries for baby's first Thanksgiving. You may need to add some sugar if the cranberries are too tart - instead of sugar, many times I add fruit juice (the 100% juice kind)...it will sweeten your cranberries with less added sugar.


For the whole family:

There are a couple of options when it comes to making this pearsauce to be enjoyed by everyone in your family. I usually steam them, and then portion out some that will blended for the baby and the rest that will be eaten as is (nothing fancy - just pears) by the rest of the family. I also really like making two pans of it...one for baby (or anyone in your family who may prefer the plain version) and one for the rest of the family. The one for baby will be just plain pears. The one for the rest of the family will have fun additions as noted above. I love this one because you add no additional time to your cooking by just having two pot's on the stove at the same time.


*You can simply add some raisins / dried cranberries when it is cooking for a nice side dish to chicken, pork, turkey,etc...or you can mix it into your oatmeal in the morning.


Mommy Tip: When adding dried cranberries (or other dried fruit) for your older baby / young children be sure to read the labels. You will want to make sure that there is no added sugar, etc...and that the product you are purchasing is essentially a dried piece of fruit and nothing more.

Stage 1: Pear Puree

This is wonderful puree that can be served to your baby as a first food and can also be a great addition to combo meals as your baby progresses. The best part is that pear puree goes well with just about anything that you will feed your little one (add it to applesauce, add it to a bitter fruit or veggie puree - in my experience squash, parsnip and apricots can become a bit tart or as your baby starts adding meats to their diet pear goes great with chicken). There are two ways that I would prepare pear puree for my little guy. The first is my basic pear puree (below) and the second is my pearsauce (a great alternative to applesauce).


What you need:

1.)  Pears (peeled and cut into chuncks)

2.)  Water (for the steamer and as needed for pureeing)


*In general pears a watery enough to puree without additional water, so I wouldn't add water to your pureeing devise until you are sure you need it.*


What to do:

1.)  Place the pear chuncks in the steamer (or bake in the over) until tender enough to mash.

2.)  You don't want to take them too far so keep and eye on them. The time it will take to cook these will depend on how soft (or hard) the pear you are using is.

3.)  Place in your pureeing devise of choose and puree to the desired consistency Add water, as needed for pureeing.



As I noted above you can use your pear puree for just about anything. Here are a few of our favorites:


Fruit and Oatmeal: Add the pear puree to baby oatmeal (or rice cereal) for a yummy breakfast chioce


Fruit and Veggies: Combine with just about any veggie puree (we love pear with squash, sweet potato or parsnips)


Pear and Banana: When consistency of a fork mashed banana is still too much for your little one, try adding a thin pear puree to make it easier for your little one to eat.


Pear and chicken: As you start adding meats to your baby's diet the pear puree goes great with chicken and pork

Stage 1: Apricot Puree

Generally I would suggest that you use any fruit or vegetable in it's most fresh stage when making baby food, however, this is one recipe for which it is absolutely fine to use the dried apricots. You will, however, want to be sure to check the label ensuring that it is truly just the dried fruit and no additional sugars, etc... have been added.


When making apricot puree you will want to note that it will not freeze solid. In my reseach of various websites it seems that apricot puree is still perfectly safe to freeze (even though it doesnt freeze solid), having said that when I made this for my little guy I generally just made enough for a few days. If you have some leftover and don't want to freeze it use it to make a smoothie for other family members.


What you need:

1.)  Dried Apricots

2.)  100% pure fruit juice (we like apple, but use pear or white grape if that is what you have in the house) or replace the juice with water.


I don't generally include measurements because your recipe with change greatly if you are making a single meal or making extra to freeze. For this recipe you will want to be at about 1lb of dried apricots to 2 cups of water or juice.


What to do:

1.)  Bring liquid and fruit to a boil

2.)  Lower tempreture and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Make sure that you have let them simmer long enough for the dried fruit to soften

3.)  Place in your pureeing devise of choose and puree to the desired consistency


If you need additional liquid while pureeing feel free to use reserved cooking liquid or you can add water if you would like.



 Fruit and Oatmeal: Add the apricot puree to baby oatmeal (or rice cereal) for a yummy breakfast chioce


Mommy Tip:  Using the juice for the cooking liquid will ensure that there is no bitterness to your baby's apricot puree. If you are uncomfortable with serving store bought juice to your baby (my little guy is now 15 months and we just began giving him watered down juice in the last week or so) try these modifications:

- Fresh squezzed juice

- Use water as the cooking liquid and add juice (or a juice/water combo) when pureeing if the apricot seems too tart

- Make a combo using a sweet fruit puree (like pear for example). Remember, you will only want to go with the combo option if the baby has had at least one of the combo items for 4 days in a row to ensure that they are not allergic

Stage 1: Baby Oatmeal

I will be honest with you in saying that my little guy ate very little baby cereal. He basically jumped right into fruits and veggies and I typically bought baby cereal at the store to keep in the house as a thickener for purees. I did however make baby oatmeal for him, to serve as a breakfast item. You can use it as a starter food (meaning one that you would feed to your little one adding no additional items) or you can feed it to your little one as a combo with fruits or veggies.

Note, If you are looking to make baby rice or barley cereals use the same technique (grind into a powder in the blender or food processor and the follow the "what to do" below. Try Brown Rice for an added boost of nutrition.


What you need:

1.) 1/4 cup of oats (do not use instant or quick cook) ground in the blender or food processor

2.) 3/4 cup of water


What to do:

1.) Bring the water to a boil

2.) Add the ground oatmeal and stir

3.) Simmer for about 10 minutes, being sure to wisk/mix the oatmeal frequently

4.) Mix in formula or breast milk Serve warm



Fruit and Oatmeal: Mix in a fruit puree at then end.


Veggie and Oatmeal: This one may sound strange to you because you probably think of oatmeal as a breakfast item, however, try mixing the oatmeal with sweet potato or carrot purees (once again adding at the end as suggested in the Fruit and Oatmeal alternative above) this is a great option to thicken leftover frozen puree's as your little one begins to want more consistency to their food.


Mommy Tip: When making the Fruit and Oatmeal or Veggie and Oamtmeal alternatives above, use a fruit puree out of the refridegerator (or cooled to room tempreture) to instantly cool your baby's oatmeal down for eating.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baby Food Sucess: Always have two pots on the Stove

 One of my biggest fears prior to embarking on making baby food for my little man was that it would take too much time.  I work full time, commute and hour each way and most nights I don't even eat dinner until after the kids are in bed.  My concern was that I wouldn't be able to commit to it because I simply wouldn't have the time.  As I started making his food and found out what worked and what didn't I realized that there were a few simple techniques that minimized my time in the kitchen while still allowing me to make my little man's baby food.
I love this tip because if you follow this rule, even one or two days a week you will have plenty of food for you little one and you will have spent little to no additional time in the kitchen (other than the time spent cooking meals for the rest of the family).
Now in a perfect world I would just make dinner for my older guy, my husband and I and then throw it in the food processor and the baby's food would be made.  Believe me there are time (as he started eating combo meals that this was the case), but when they are starting out and can only have one food at a time, or even as they get older but you want to add spices/seasonings that you can't or don't want to give to the baby you need another option and this is it.
While you are cooking dinner for the rest of the family have two pots going.  One for the baby (and possibly younger children) and one for the rest of the family.  You will cut and prepare all of the ingedients one time and they will be on the stove cooking at the same time, but it allows you to give the baby a meal that is appropriate for his/her stage of eating and the rest of the family can have a meal that they will enjoy and you have added no additional "kitchen time" (except possibly puree/storage time, but that should be no more than 5 minutes).  As always add some extra to the baby's pot so that you will be able to freeze some for later in the week or for that night when the rest of the family is eating pizza you don't want to have to venture into the kitchen.
You can use this tip with just about anything but here are a couple of examples:
1.) Easily convert your veggie side dish into baby food:  Many times we sautee veggies in white wine and lemon, but that is not an option for the baby (though the alcohol cooks off there is still a very small amount left so we choose not too feed him these veggie, plus the lemon is acidic for your little ones tummy.  While I have the "adult" veggies in one pan, I will be cooking the "baby" veggie in another.  You chop veggies once, you cook once, but you have created a meal for baby and the rest of the family.  This is an especially useful tip when baby is in the first stages of eating baby food and can only eat one item at a time.
2.) Soups and Stews:  Soups and Stews can be wonderfully healthy foods for you little one's as they begin eating more food combinations and chunkier consistency, but when I am making soup/stew for my husband and I we don't want to feel like we are eating bland baby food. So again you will want to get two pots going, one will make the "adult" version and one will be for the "baby" verion.  This will allow you to make beef stew for you baby (with homemade stock, veggies and beef) that can later be pureed as necessary and a beef stew for the rest of the family (with some red wine, salt, pepper, steak seasoning, etc...).  Once again you have chopped once, cooked once and have meals for the baby as well as the whole family.  The only additional "kitchen time" is the time to puree and store.
As you can see, if you follow this simple tip, even just a couple days a week (especially if you make extra to freeze) you will be able to make healthy baby food for your little one with no additional "kitchen time" required.