Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Turkey with Sweet Potato

This is a perfect recipe to utilize some of your Holiday leftovers, but of course is a great meal for you little one at any time of the year.  You can also swap out the Turkey for Chicken if you have some leftover chicken.
What you need:
 - Basic Sweet Potato Puree
 - Turkey
What to do:
 - Break Turkey into small pieces
 - Combine with Sweet Potato Puree (or baked/steamed sweet potato)
 - Puree to the desired consistency
**Mommy Tip**
If you have an older baby who is starting to chew and beginning to eat things that have some consistency, shred or cube the Turkey instead of pureeing together. 

Pumpkin and Cranberry

This is a really good combo.  For Thanksgiving I even decided to make a pumpkin pie with whole cranberries in it and it was a hit and has already been requested for Christmas.  Once again, this is a great opportunity to let the Baby have a similar (more healthy version) of your holiday treats.

What you need:
 - Basic Pumpkin Puree 
 - Basic Cranberry Puree, as an alternative use the Cranberry Sauce with apples

What to do:
 - Combine (at a two to one ratio) the pumpkin puree and the Cranberry puree.
 - Mix to combine, or blend if necessary to get the desired consistency.

Split Pea Soup:

When you think of split pea soup you may think of the saltyness from the ham bone that you may include to the pot when cooking, but here is a more healthy version that is perfect for your little one.
What you need:
 - Split Peas
 - Water (chicken or veggie stock if desired)
 - Carrots
 - Onions, as desired
 - Cerlery, as desired (they can become stringy so you may want to leave them out)
 - Garlic, as desired
What to do:
 - Add the Carrots, onion, celery and garlic (as desired) to a medium sauce pan with water.
 - Once the water comes to a boil add the split peas.
 - Let it cook until everything is tender (about an hour and a half for the full bag of split peas)
 - Puree to the desired consistency for your little one
*Your cooking time and quantity of liquid will vary based on how much of the split peas you have decided to use.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sweet Potato and Cranberry:

This is a great recipe for the holidays, especially if mashed sweet potato's will be served as part of your holiday meal. If you will not be serving sweet potato, chunk up a sweet potato and steam until soft and mash or puree the sweet potato.
What you need:
 - One baked (or steamed) Sweet Potato
 - Cranberry Puree or Cranberry Sauce with Apples
What to do:
 - Puree your baked (or steamed) Sweet Potato to the desired consistency for your baby
 - Add one scoop of the Cranberry Puree or Cranberry Sauce with Apples
 - Mix to combine

Cranberry Sauce with Apples

This recipe will be very similar to the basic cranberry puree with one simple addition....Apples.
What you need:
 - A 1 lb bag of Fresh Cranberries
 - 1 cup of fruit juice (you can use just about any kind - grape, cranberry, pomegranate, apple, apple cider) or water
 - 1 Apple (you can dice or chunk based on the consistency that you want to achieve)
What to do:
 - Rinse Cranberries and add to a medium saucepan
 - Add the 1 cup of the Juice of your choice (you can replace the juice with water, but I like the juice for added flavor)
 - Once the cranberries have begun to pop add the apple (For younger babies I say dice so that they cook down quickly to a consistency that will puree well, for older babies/toddlers leave the apples in chunks so that they will still have some texture to them once the cooking process is complete).
 - Cook until the berries and apples are soft and then puree to the desired consistency

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Basic Fruit Puree - Cranberry

As we all know, fall is the prime season for cranberries.  Take that opportunity to introduce your little one to this tangy treat.  I make a cranberry sauce that your entire family will love, we serve it as a side dish every year for Thanksgiving (and sometimes Christmas).
We all know that Cranberries can be acidic, so you may want to hold off until your baby is between 9 and 12 months before introducing this fruit.  For the same reason, I suggest introducing in small amounts.  Offer just a couple of spoonfuls the first few times, until you know that your baby is not impacted by the acidity.  On the allergy front, you will be happy to know that cranberries are not in the same "berry" family as strawberries, etc... and as such you don't not have to follow the "wait until 12 months rule" and you will also be happy to know that from my research cranberry allergies are very rare.
 What you need:
 - A 1 lb bag of Fresh Cranberries
 - 1 cup of fruit juice or water (you can use just about any kind - grape, cranberry, pomegranite, apple, apple cider) or water

What to do:
 - Rinse Cranberries and add to a medium saucepan
 - Add the 1 cup of the Juice of your choice (you can replace the juice with water, but I like the juice for added flavor)
 - Cook stirring ocassionaly until berries are soft enough to puree.
 - Add the cranberries to your pureeing devise of choice and puree until the desired consistency is reached.
**Mommy Tip**
I like to use 100% fruit juice (with no added sugar) when making this for the baby.  It allows you to add some sweetness to cut through the tartness of the cranberry without adding sugar.
**Mommy Tip**
If you choose to not add a sweetner think about combining the cranberry with a sweeter fruit puree such as peeches or pears to offset some of the tartness.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Soup for baby (and the whole family)

 This is a great recipe that will allow you to let you baby share the tastes of the fall season with you.  I love these types of recipes that not only allow your baby to try new things (and fall is a perfect time of year as fresh pumpkins will not be available throughout the year).  I try to make the most of the seasonal fruits and vegetables by coming up with fun family recipes that allow the baby to join in.  This is a perfect recipe for that, especially since everyone loves soup.  Even my anti-vegetable 5 year old will eat most soups that we offer to him.   
You will note that I have not provided measurements in many of my recipes, the reason for that is that they will vary greatly depending on if you are making a one-meal serving for your baby, enough for your baby to eat now and freeze some for later or enough to incorporate into a meal/side-dish for the whole family.  The measurements included below are intended to make one to two servings of this soup so you will want to adjust accordingly.
What you need:
1 to 2 cups of Pumpkin cut into about 1 inch strips
1 Cup of Water
2 tsp of Butter
1/2 cup of Milk
Carrot, celery, onion, other vegetables (possibly any extra purees that may be in the freezer)
pinch of freshly ground black pepper (optional)
a few drops of maple syrup (optional)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Basic Fruit *Puree* - Banana

I love this because this is one of the easiest preparations.  You don't have to do anything.  I am labeling it a puree, but really all you have to do is mash it.  As long as you have a ripe banana you should be able to mask it with a fork and the consistency should be fine for your baby.  Banana's are a must have, especially if you have busy mornings in your household.  When your baby is on single foods a mashed banana is a perfect and quick breakfast.
What you need:
1 Banana
How to prepare:
Peel the banana
Cut into chucks
Mash with a fork
It doesn't get any easier than that.

Basic Veggie Puree - Squash

There are a couple of ways that you can easily prepare squash for your little one.  To retain the most nutrients from this vegetable you will want to Roast or Bake the squash for your little one.  You will find that both baking and roasting will be the easiest options for you as well.

What you need:
Butternut Squash

What to do:
Cut the butternut squash in half (lengthwise) and remove the seeds from the middle of the squash.
In a baking dish/roasting pan with about a couple of inches of water, place the squash face down
Bake for about 40 minutes at 400 F.  I normally check between 30 and 40 minutes - once you see that the outside of the squash is starting to wrinkle/pucker your squash will be done.

How to prepare:
Once the squash is cooked scoop out the flesh into your favorite pureeing devise (food processor / blender) and puree until you reach the desired consitency.  If additional liquid is needed add water to your puree.  I suggest adding small amounts at a time so that you don't make the puree to liquidy. 

**Mommy Tip**
You can pick just about any milder veggie to give them as a "first food" but keep in mind that some veggies - squash, for example, can make your little one gassy...if you don't want a sad little baby you may want to hold off on these veggies for a bit.  My baby had squash and seemed to have horrible gas pain afterwards, we waited about a month and tried it again and he seemed fine.  We are just careful now to not give him too much. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Basic Veggie Puree - Pumpkin (fun holiday treat for baby)

I love making food for the baby that allows him to share in our family food fun and Holiday's are no different.  A perfect example is Thanksgiving.  There are so many good Holiday recipes that can be very simply converted to something that you can feed to the baby as well.  We all know that the baby can share Sweet Potato and squash at you holiday meal, but have you thought about making a pumpkin dish for your baby?

Pumpkins are a very healthy food rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and calcium and the season between Halloween and Thanksgiving when pumpkins are readily available is a perfect time to try them out. 

Basic Veggie Puree - Pumpkin (Stage 1: Single puree):

What you need:
 - Pumpkin (peeled and cut into cubes)
 - Ground nutmeg (optional)
 - Cinnamon (optional)

What to do:
 - Put the pieces of pumpkin in the steamer (or roast in the oven)
 - Cook until tender
 - Place into you favorite pureeing devise
 - Blend until it reaches the desired consistency for your little one

*If you have given your baby spices/seasonings and would like to add some nutmeg and cinnamon for an additional burst of flavor add a pich of one or both before pureeing.

**Mommy Tip**
To convert this to a side dish for your toddler or preschooler add a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon and combine with Super Easy Applesauce and some dried cranberries and you have a perfect side dish for children of all ages (and the whole family if desired).

Pumpkin and Parsnip puree (Stage 2 - Combo's):
Our Thanksgiving table typically includes both pumpkin (though usually only in the pie form) and parsnips.  So this is a perfect holiday recipe to serve your baby so that he/she can share in the holiday fun.  This should only be made for a baby who has tried one or both of the main ingedients (pumpkin and parsnips).

What you need:
 - Pumpkin (peeled and cut into cubes)
 - Parsnip (peeled and cut into cubes)
 - Ground nutmeg (optional)
 - Cinnamon (optional)
 - 1 tsp chopped fresh chives

What to do:
 - Put the pieces of pumpkin and parsnip in the steamer (or roast in the oven)
 - Cook until tender
 - Place into you favorite pureeing devise
 - Blend until it reaches the desired consistency for your little one

*If you have given your baby spices/seasonings and would like to add any or all of the optional items above (nutmeg, cinnamon and chives) for an additional burst of flavor add a pich of one or both before pureeing.

Pumpkin and Rice (Stage 3 - Consistency Lovers):
This is a perfect pumpkin dish for your older baby who likes some consistency in the baby food.  You will see that I suggest brown rice for this recipe.  This is mainly because I try to use brown rice when cooking for the baby because of the added health benefits and I just think it has more flavor.  Having said that please feel free to substitute white rice in this recipe.

What you need:
 - Pumpkin (peeled and cut into cubes)
 - Cooked Brown Rice
 - Water or homemade chicken broth
 - Ground nutmeg (optional)
 - Cinnamon (optional)

What to do:
 - Place the pumpkin in a saucepan and cover with water or homemade chicken broth
 - Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes
 - Add the cooked rice
 - Add the optional nutmeg and/or cinnamon
 - Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes (the rice is already cooked so you just need to heat through)
 - Serve as is for you older baby who can eat food with some consistency, for a younger baby you can puree to the desired consistency

**Mommy Tip**
Serve to you older child by heating the pre-cooked rice on the side and just adding a touch of pumpkin to the rice for added flavor and a fun holiday twist on your normal rice side dish.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Basic Veggie Puree - Sweet Potato

 I love making Sweet Potato for my little man....why?  Simple, there are so many different ways that you can prepare it that it easily fits into any meal preparation that you are doing for the rest of the family.

What you need:
2-3 medium sweet potatoes
Water (amount will vary based on the consistency needs of your baby)
¼ tsp. fresh ground cinnamon (optional, for babies at least 6 months old)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, for babies at least 6 months old)
Cooking Instructions:
My two favorite preparations are steamed and baked, but I have also included instructions for other types of preparation as well.
Place peeled sweet potato cubes in you steamer. Steam for 10-20 minutes (time will vary based on the amount of sweet potato used and the size of the pieces that you cut them into) or until tender.
I LOVE how simple this recipe is!!! Scrub the potato, prick it with a fork and bake it for around 45 mins, until it feels soft. Cool briefly, then split the skin and scoop out the soft flesh.
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees
Place washed sweet potatoes directly on a baking sheet, lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until sweet potatoes are completely tender. Set aside to cool.

Once sweet potatoes are cool, peel off skin and cut into large chunks. Place sweet potatoes in food processor, add water, as needed to get to the desired consistency for your baby. 
Some optional additions (you will want to wait until your baby is having spices normally around 6 months based on our doctors recomendations):
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla
  • both
You will want to start with small amounts at first as your baby's tastes adapt to the new flavors.
If you are in a rush...make the *baked* sweet potato in the microwave.  Once again, prick the outside of the potato and put it in your microwave for about 5 minutes, then let the Sweet Potato stand for another 5 minutes (this will allow it to continue to cook and soften).  From there you will want to follow the directions above - peel, cut into chuncks and puree until smooth.

Pureeing 101

You went to your baby's doctor appointment and they told you that you can start your little one on solid foods. 

With our first son (who did not get homemade baby food) we started him on fruits and veggies.  This was at his doctor's direction.  He was having problems with constipation at that point so his doctor said that the fruits and veggies would be a better starter food for him.  This time our doctor recommended that we start our little guy on Rice Cereal.  We did start him on rice cereal but he didn't love it so we decided to move onto the fruits and veggies after the first week.  He did absolutely fine with this.  Though I do recommend discussing your feeding choices with your pediatrician, it is also important to remember that as the parent you will be the best judge of how your child is doing day-to-day.  My little guy is not even 11 months old yet and this past weekend he held and ate his own apple (and was holding and eating his own peaches by about 8 or 9 months).  We are right next to him watching closely (there were actually 3 adults watching him eat an apple so I think we were covered) but he is ready for it and wants to feed himself so we let him. 

Where do you start?
 - You likely discussed at your baby's appointment what they recommend for "First Foods". Remember, I am not a doctor but I believe that most recommend rice cereal to start and then moving on to the other cereals (barley, mixed grains, oatmeal) and from there onto fruits and veggies and then finally meats (between 9 and 12 months).   

The Tools for the Job

What do you NEED to make baby food?  Well let me start by saying that you are fully equipped to make baby food with just your normal kitchen appliances, but there are some things that make it easier to make and store baby food.  Here are my favorite baby food making tools:
For Cooking:
A Steamer:  Obviously when making baby food you don't have to steam your veggies (you can boil, roast,etc...) but for me this made my life so much easier.  You can simply peel and chop up a sweet potato and throw it in the steamer for about 20 minutes, or until it is soft enough to mash / puree and that's it.  If your baby is new to solid foods this could be a weeks worth of meals for your baby made in about a half hour start to finish...and most of that time (while the veggies are in the steamer) can be spent, playing with your baby, cleaning, napping, etc...
For Pureeing:
A mini food processor:  Once again you don't NEED one, but it will make your life much easier.  For alternatives to a mini food processor you can obviously use your regular size food processor, a blender, a hand blender and I found that a ricer works great for Sweet Potato's - you just want to make sure that the product that you choose will get you the consistency that is best for your baby.  Having said all that, I just found that the mini food processor was the perfect size for a batch of baby food and more convenient than lugging out one of the larger appliances. 
For Storage:
Stay-Fresh Baby Food Containers:  This is my favorite baby food storage container. I love it because you can freeze your baby food right in the container, you can pop it out of the freezer and through it in the diaper bag to bring along with you and can feed baby right out of the container when you are on the go. Another benefit it that they are stackable which will save a lot of room in your freezer especially if you are like me and like to make a bunch of puree's at one time.
For Feeding:
I keep it VERY simple...I buy the disposable bowl and spoon sets.  I do re-use them and they are fine to throw in you diswasher, but I like them because they are cheap so if you are out and leave the spoon on a table a restaurant or something you won't feel too bad about it.  I also use the Stay-Fresh Baby Food Containers (see above) as a bowl when serving the baby.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Turkey and apple meatloaf (for Baby and Family)

Turkey and apple meatloaf (for Baby and Family)

I found a similar recipe on the "finger foods" section of wholesomebabyfood.com and decided to adapt it something that we could not only serve to the baby, but to the rest of the family as well.

This was just attempt one, so I will be playing around with the seasonings....since the baby was having it for the first time I wanted to keep bland and we seasoned ours after cooking. As the baby gets more used to flavors / spices / seasonings I am sure I will have many variantions.

What you need:
  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • Bread crumbs (I made my own...a few pieces of bread spinkled with olive oil in the oven to dry out and the crush into the turkey mixture)
  • 1 to 2 diced apples depending on the size
  • Dried Cranberries ( I left a couple of pieces worth without the cranberries for the baby)
  • Walnuts (if you are making for an older child who you know does not have nut allergies)
  • Veggie Puree / dices, as desired
*If additional liquid is needed add chicken stock, water or a veggie puree (I like chicken stock to add some flavor)

*If it is too moist add some additional bread crumbs


Combine Turkey, egg, bread crumbs and veggie puree (as desired) until you have the right consistency - when you can just for it into a loaf

Add apples, and cranberries, walnuts

Form into a loaf and cook at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour (basically until you stick you knife in the thickest part and it comes out clean)

Serving suggestions for baby and toddler:

- For you beginner eater: pop a small piece of meatloaf into the food processor with veggie puree of choice

- For your self-feeder: Cut into strips / small pieces for feeding and served them fruit / veggie puree with meal

- For your toddler: serve with warm apple sauce / apple compote and veggie sticks

Serving suggestions for the adults / older children:

- A Thanksgiving Panini any time of the year: Get some crusty bread and make some cranberry mayonaise. Spread the mayonaise on the bread, slice the meatloaf into sandwich size pieces and put the sanwhich into your panini press (no panini press - wrap a brick in tin foil and put it on top of the sandwich to a similar effect).

*Not into the mayonaise??? Spread the bread with a homemade cranberry sauce with apples in it. I have a great one that I make for the Holidays...keep an eye out for the recipe!!!

Super Easy Applesauce for Baby (and the whole family)

1. Peel, core and cut apple into slices/chunks

2. Place slices or chunks into a pan with a little bit of water not completely covering the apples

3. Put a lid (or some tin foil) to cover the pan and let the apples stem until tender

It doesn't get much easier than that!!!! I love this recipe for a few reasons (1) there is no prep work except for peeling a few apples (2) you can throw it in the oven with whatever you have cooking (3) the house smells really good while it is cooking.

What to do once the apples are cooked:

For baby:

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

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

*Serve this to baby as plain applesauce or mix with other fruit purees, veggie purees (carrots and apples go great together and I can even get my 5 year old who won't touch a veggie to eat it) or meat purees (chicken with apples). Applesauce with blueberries is a favorite in our house.

For older baby - who likes some consistency:

1.) Use your blender, food processor, etc... to break down the apples 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 applesauce, mixed with meat or veggies, as finger food (apple dices).

**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 apples 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 applesauce

2.) Or serve the way it is (just cutting into smaller pieces as necessary) in place of baked apples

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 the steamed apples. You can mix apples with just about any fruit for yummy variations to this applesauce. Instead of steaming, cook down some cranberries on the stove add the apples and have a cranberry applesauce 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 applesauce to be enjoyed by everyone in your family. I usually just make sure I have really flavorful apples, 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 apples) 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 apples. The one for the rest of the family will have fun additions as noted above.

*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. Another favorite is to peel and chop a sweet potato, place them in the pan with the apples and some dried cranberries and cook until the apples and sweet potato are tender. Then mash, combine and serve.