My sweet boy! I love this first photo because if you peek beneath the table, that is Curran mid leg flail. When he gets in his little eating seat he starts swinging his legs around like he's getting ready for take off. The kid is quite the enthusiastic eater and it may be one of my favorite qualities about him. In his limited communication skills, when he is not kicking his legs, he is squawking at me to feed him quicker and not dare leave my post as spoon manager.
I know this post will only appeal to a fraction of you, but when I started making baby food I figured it'd be no big deal. I cook, I can mash up food. But turns out it does take a second thought. It's not necessarily rocket science, but I figure the more I expose him to now, before he realizes he has a choice, the better. I'm not a master by any means, but thought I would share a few notes that have worked for us in case they may be helpful for anyone else. Curran is almost 8 months old and pretty close to eating the same things we're eating (generally speaking) but here are a few things I've learned so far:
- I've mostly been using my immersion blender to get things smooth. I know there is special equipment to make baby food but I think that's a gimmick. Outside of baby food, I use my immersion blender for soups all the time and think it's a great tool to have.
- To not make myself crazy and feel like a short order cook, I try to have one bulk baby food session that gets us through most of the week, maybe takes me an hour if I have the groceries. A little squeeze of lemon juice preserves them for a week no problem. I prepare a decent size container for the fridge and freeze another small bag full for back up. Then sometimes when I make meals for Hugh and I, Curran has some of whatever we're having to try new things. For example, I made us a minestrone soup a few nights ago and just whizzed some with the immersion blender for him. It sounds obvious, but babies can get bored of foods too, so giving them some of yours changes things up AND it starts the habit of everyone eating the same thing.
- I can get Curran to eat most things but if I've made him something he's not thrilled about, I just hide it in with something he does like so I don't waste it. He will eat anything with a sweet potato or banana so I make the super green mash below and while he doesn't love it plain, mixed into a little potato or banana, I can get tons of greens into him.
- On the go. I was gifted these and they work great. Hold a decent amount and don't leak. Bananas have also saved me in a pinch and you don't even need a container. I just slice it in half and dig out of the banana itself like it's own little bowl. Because I mentioned he is a yeller when he's hungry, I also keep the Happy Baby snacks (the happy creamies and puffs) in my bag. It also helps him pick things up. And speaking of feeding himself, halved blueberries, ripe pears, bananas and avocados have gone over well. Roll them in flaxmeal, oat flour or crushed rice cereal to keep them from getting too slimy to grab or just expect a mess and be ok with it.
The recipes below are general amounts. A mash can be pretty forgiving but it's always easier to add water than take it away. If you've made it too thin, a little mashed sweet potato can help thicken things back up.
CARROT LENTIL MASHIES // Makes about 2 cups
I've used turmeric in here but it stains both his fair skin and clothes so use at your own discretion.
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 large carrots
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils
- 1/2 tsp. everyday seasoning
- 2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, cilantro or parsley
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
Boil the carrots and garlic clove in the water until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils, seasoning, herbs and salt and pepper. Use the immersion blender to puree chunky or smooth as you need. Stir in the coconut oil while it is still warm.
BERRY OATS // Makes 2 cups
I can leave this chunky for Curran's age. If your baby is younger, blend it with an immersion blender after you add the coconut milk. I also add flax meal but know that can sometimes be an allergen so add when appropriate. I also eat this in the morning on occasion so doubling it has never gone to waste.
- 2 cups water
- 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup fresh or frozen berries, slightly mashed
- pinch of salt and cinnamon
Bring the water to a boil and add the oats. Cook until softened and most water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and berries and cook another 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir in the salt and cinnamon.
SUPER GREEN MASHIES // Makes 2 cups
You want to steam everything until just soft enough to blend but not to the point it gets brown and mushy. Just keep an eye. A squeeze of lemon helps it stay fresh. Double this recipe if you want a bag full for the freezer. Curran doesn't love this plain, but I sort of use it as a concentrate of goodness to mix into other things. I put a spoonful or two with some mashed avocado and he eats it no problem, or I'll just mix it into any other food he's eating. More greens the better!
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 lb. green beans
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1/2 a pear, roughly chopped
- 2 cups packed spinach
- 2 cups roughly chopped kale
Bring the water to a gentle boil. Add the green beans and broccoli and boil for 2 minutes. Add the pear, spinach, kale, cover and steam another 2 minutes until wilted. Add a squeeze of lemon and blender everything until chunky/smooth.
SQUASHY QUINOA // Makes 2 cups
I roast whole acorn, butternut or kabocha squash and mash half for him and I eat the other half for lunch. To roast, preheat to 400', halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, rub the flesh with oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and roast for about 25-35 minutes depending on the squash. Whatever it takes until very soft.
Goat dairy is much easier for them to digest than cows milk. They sell it at Trader Joes, Whole Foods and health food stores.
- 1 half a roasted acorn squash
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 3/4 cup goat yogurt
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- grate of fresh nutmeg
- pinch of salt and pepper
Scoop out the squash flesh and mash it with a fork. Stir in the quinoa, yogurt, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir to blend. Thin it with a little water if the mash is looking super thick.