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 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

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) 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 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.