Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Top (Babyfood) Chef: How-To Guide

As I've mentioned, we're making our own baby food. We have a good stash of peaches, avacado, apples, and I've got beans, peas, plums, and carrots ready to steam and cream. Some people think this is crazy but consider this...

There's the cost. I bought a bunch of 10 ripe banannas at the store for 50¢ Put that in the food processor and it makes 20 servings of baby food at 2.5¢ per serving. I bought a sweet potato for 54¢ and that made 22 servings at 2.5¢ a serving. A bag of carrots is 80¢ and that made 20 servings at 4¢ a serving. So I can either pay the grocery store 60¢ per serving OR make my own . Seems like a no brainer.

Then there's solid nutrition. Knowing how my child's food is made is really the biggest bonus. There is no preservative, sugar, salt, or high cooking temps to negate the vitamins and nutritional value in the food I make. If you check the labels of many Gerber stage two and above foods, you'll find salt and sugar in many of them. You'll also find foods that you may want to wait to introduce. Many of the grocery store babyfoods include corn, strawberries, raspberries or other common allergens. Several also include tomato sauce which is pretty acidic and can be rough on a little one's tummy.


Speaking of stage 2 foods, my little one has the urge for more texture in her foods so here's our first textured recipe:

I pureed 5 banannas in the food processor and then added 1/2 cup of rice krispies right at the end. The look on her face when she got the first krispie was hilarious.


We tried yogurt too, because I was hoping to give her something with some protein in it, but all she did was spit up most of the day after eating it, so we'll forgoe the yogurt for now. (Edit: Found out that our little one is lactose intolerant. Usually yogurt and cheese is still okay for those with intolerance but in small quantities. We'll wait to reintroduce this.)

Ease and Time: I find a lot of people asking me if making my own baby food is easy and if it takes a long time. The answer is yes and no. I can make 20 servings of babyfood while simultaneously making the night's dinner. I steam the food, drop it in the food processor and freeze the extras. Done. Making our own food also gets Mommy and Daddy to eat more fruits and veggies.

If you want to make your own, here is a big long explanation of how I do it. Don't let this fool you. It's super easy and nearly fool proof.


Where to buy
I like to pick up fresh organic fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market. My second choice is fresh organics from the grocery store, but using frozen fruits and vegetables is the next best option to fresh. Canned foods generally contain a lot of salt, sugar, or other “unwanteds.”

What to get
Good foods to start with (4-6mos)
Fruits:
Bananas, plums/prunes, peaches, apples, pears, avocado, apricots, tangerines, pumpkin, pureed grapes (add to other foods as they’re not highly nutritious)
Veggies:
Green beans, *carrots, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, squash, peas,
Cereals:
Rice, oatmeal, barley

Give your baby one new food at a time, and wait at least 2 to 3 days before starting another. After each new food, watch for any allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting.

Next Step foods (8-10mos)
These are delayed because they’re slightly harder to digest, may also result in excessive gas, or the food may cause sensitivity.
Meats:
Pureed chicken, turkey
Veggies:
tofu, *broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, lentils and dried beans, eggplant, *spinach, zucchini, turnips
Fruits:
Melons, mango, papaya (watch for rash or sensitivity from those three), cherries (not considered an allergenic berry)
Dairy:
Yogurt, cheeses in small cubes
Starches:
Pasta cut into tiny pieces

Foods to stay away from – wait until 12 mos
Acidic foods – tomatoes, citrus, strawberries, kiwi
Allergenic foods – corn, berries, egg, artichoke, beets, fish (especially shell fish), Peanuts, whole nuts, Bleu cheese
Disease risk: Honey (can carry botulism), unpasteurised cheese like Brie and Camembert
Added Salt, sugar

Potatoes and cucumbers can be introduced at any time but offer little nutritional value.

*Nitrates: Many medical experts suggest waiting until six months to introduce solid food for many reasons, nitrate poisoning being one of them. Root vegetables, like carrots and beets tend to have elevated levels, and leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage and kale many times contain the most nitrates. It may be safer to stick with commercially prepared carrots and spinach because most baby food companies screen for nitrates in the fresh food they use. Commercially prepared baby food does not have the nitrates removed, but they do come from vegetables grown with little to no nitrate containing fertilizer. Using whole, unprocessed organic fruits and vegetables can help avoid high nitrates as well.

After 6-8 mos try adding some texture into the foods and/or mixing and matching to vary the flavors. Some that work well:

· Morning Sunrise: Banana puree with Rice Krispies
· Fruit Smoothies: Banana & Peach puree, pear/plum, apricot/bananna, mango/pear
· Veggie mash: squash/carrot
· Yogurt smoothies: plain yogurt and pears
· Cottage cheese and peaches
· Apple pie: apples, cinnamon, and oatmeal, immitation vanilla (immitation doesn't have alcohol in it)
· Chicken dinner: Chicken, rice, apple puree or Chicken/apricot
· Turkey Mac: Turkey, mac n cheese
· Apple Vanilla desert: apples, pears, vanilla yogurt(or plain)
· Vegetarian delight: tofu and banana
· Veggie casserole: Carrots, peas, cheese (real cheese, not Velveeta or cheese whiz)
· Butternut squash risotto: just like it sounds J
· Cheesy pasta: melted cheese, broccoli, and pasta of your choice
· Fruit cup: cherry, mango, banana, apricot
. Cinnamon Rice Porridge: rice cereal, cinnamon, formula to desiered consistency
. Chicken and potato
. Banana tofu pudding: 2 tablespoons silken tofu, 1 banana, and formula
. peaches and cream: yogurt and peaches
Some of my other favorite recipes can be found at the Simply Babyfood Blog: http://simplybabyfoodrecipes.blogspot.com/

Cooking
Baking and Steaming allow the most nutrients to stay with the foods. I prefer to use Glad or Ziploc steam bags in the microwave. It’s quick, easy, and I don’t have to wait for water to boil or heat up the oven on a hot day. They’re also reusable, although the package says not to. Just use common sense. No cross contamination.

For foods with a peel, I steam with the peel on and then let it cool. The skins generally slip right off using this method. (Peels can be hard for baby to digest.)

Pureeing
I use my food processor. Others use a blender or a food mill. There’s no right or wrong way. You may need to add liquid to some foods. I like to use formula because it’s nutrient rich. You can also use water or juice. It’s recommended that children have less than 2oz of juice per day though.

Storage
I store baby food in (BPA free) containers made especially for the purpose. I find that storing them individually reduces the amount of freezer burn and ice crystals. It’s also very convenient for feeding directly out of the container.

Others prefer to fill ice cube trays and cover with plastic wrap until frozen. Once frozen they can be moved to a zip tight bag or container. I think doing this causes extra work (although not much) and the containers/bags don’t stack very well so they take up more space. You also have an additional container to wash doing it that way and what busy mom has time for extra chores?

Baby Food Cubes May Be Safely Kept in the Freezer for 3 Months. It is preferable, not an absolute must, to use the cubes within 1 month however.

You can freeze purees with formula in them. Do not freeze formula alone.

Pureed meats can be frozen but it does affect the texture. Its better instead to make a meat based meal puree such as turkey and noodles, or chicken and rice.


A word on starting solids from the AAP...

Early introduction of solid food to infants is less harmful than previously reported, according to a recent article published in the June 12 British Medical Journal.
The authors hint that the results of their study demand that a more relaxed approach to early feeding be considered.
Researchers diagnosed the relationships between early introduction of solid food and infant weight, gastrointestinal illness, and allergic illnesses during the first two years of life.
AAP News Vol. 9 No. 9 September 1993, p. 2 © 1993 American Academy of Pediatrics

AND for a little fun…
First birthday cake ideas: http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/extras/firstBirthday.pdf


Helpful links:
http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/
Baby food recipes and tips
AnnabelKarmel
Cuisinart Babyfood Recipes


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Sources unless otherwise noted: wholesomebabyfood.com, parents.berkeley.edu, ehow.com, theparentsite.com

1 comment:

AllyFort said...

I think you are a genious for making your own babyfood! I did it and there are so many benefits!