April 29, 2010

Baby food made easy..

When I was pregnant my mom bought me a Babycook Babyfood Maker.

No offense to anyone who got me a gift, but this was by far my favorite item I received. Since I love to cook, it was important to me to have Emory eat fresh and nutritional meals. Now that Emory has been eating homemade meals since he was 4 months old (he has never tasted jarred baby food), I must say he is one well balanced, and well tasted eater. He has had everything from quinoa and mushrooms, to brown rice primavera, and he loves it all!

It makes me feel so good to see him eating so well, and becoming so healthy (as well as establishing a wide palate of tastes). I do not write this to make those of you who opt for jarred baby feel bad, (I realize not everyone stays home all day, or even has the desire to do this), but I really want to show all of you parents how easy and affordable it is to prepare simple yet flavorful meals for your kids.

  To me it has been an easy process. We eat only fresh vegetables and fruit (nothing canned or ready made), and so it was easy for me to throw some veggies in the Babycook and steam it up, and then puree it. It does take more time than twisting open a jar, but those few extra minutes are worth it to me.

 Below I have posted a few easy recipes for some simple purees and dishes. I really hope that you try a few out so that you can see how fun it can be to make these, and how good you feel when your baby devours all of it! I think you will be amazed at the variety of foods kids will eat. Who ever thought a 10 month olds would eat barley and mushrooms? I will admit that I have to make Emory nearly double of everything, because it all tastes so good, that he "shares" his food with me.

Baby Food Making 101
I know most of you don't have the Babycook, but it really is a great investment, it can steam and puree all in one tiny machine. Luckily, this machine is for convenience, and there are other ways to make the food. 
(1) If you don't have the Babycook, you can use your normal steamer (big pot with a steamer insert), or you can use the ziplock steam and fresh bags (they are seriously an amazing invention). The rule with steaming is to make sure that you do not overcook the food, as you will zap it of al of it's nutritional value. I just make sure that the food is soft enough to puree or mash with a potato masher or fork. You can steam any kind of vegetable or fruit. 
(2) To add variety, I started Emory on herbs and spices early. As long as you don't have any food allergies in the family it is safe to start adding new flavors for babies. You just want to make sure and use the smallest amount, and avoid anything spicy. Also, do your best to avoid salt. Babies do not need to eat foods as salty as we do (we probably don't need to either). By avoiding salt not only will you limit unnecessary sodium in their diet, but they will start to appreciate and discover the natural flavor of food. 
(3) The great things about soft food, is that it can be pureed as smooth or as chunky as you want. When you want a smooth and creamy texture, add some of the steamed water and your veggies or fruits to a blender or food processor and pulse until desired consistency. For chunkier textures, use a fork or potato masher and mash. It is good for baby to try new textures. (Emory like chunkier foods)
(4) To make more balanced and heartier meals, mix purees with cooked brown rice or barley. If texture is too thick and chunky, add boiling water and puree until desired texture. 
(5) Make life easy... I like to spend one day (not the whole day) making a bunch of batches of baby food to last me a couple of weeks (it can freeze for 3 months). I fill up muffin tins with the food, pop it into the freezer, and once it's frozen, fill up the sink with 1 inch of water, place pan in water, and it will loosen up frozen food. Then I place the frozen disks in freezer safe containers, and freeze!
(6) Have fun with it! This is something that you should enjoy. Also feed baby foods you would never try. The beauty of a baby is that they don't have any food preferences yet, so this is the time to expose them to foods you may not think they would eat. They will let you know what they think!


Squash and Red Lentil Puree
This is a very versatile dish. You can swap any veggie out for the squash, and add in any spice or herb you like.
1/2 cup dried red lentils
1 cup butternut squash

Rinse the lentils in a strainer with cold water. In a small saucepan add enough cold water to cover lentils and gently bring to a boil. Add more water as needed. 

Cut the squash in half, peel it, and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into tiny bite sized pieces (about 1/8 inch dices). Add the squash to the boiling lentils, and bring back to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cover for 10-20 minutes until squash is tender. You may need to add more water along the way. Serve as is, or puree to desired consistency. 

This is a family favorite! There is something so comforting about cinnamon and apples
2-3 large sweet apples (any red-yellow apple works here, I like jonagold or gala)
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

Peel and core apple, and dice each apple into 1 inch chunks. Place in steamer for 10-12 minutes until apples are tender. Place apples in blender with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and puree until smooth. 

Savory Quinoa
We eat quinoa (keen-wa) almost every night. It has tremendous nutritional value, and is a complete protein! If you don't want to fee your baby meat yet, this is a great alternative..

1/4 cup quinoa
3/4 cup butternut squash (peeled, de-seeded, and chopped into 1/8 inch dices)
4-5 cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup zucchini (diced into 1/4 inch cubes)

Rinse quinoa, and place in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Add squash and simmer another 10-15 minutes until squash is tender, and the quinoa is transparent. 

Meanwhile puree the tomatoes and zucchini with a dash of water until it forms a paste. Add the paste to the quinoa mix, and cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add more water as needed. Serve as is, or puree. 


  1. Wow Missy! I didn't even know they made that little machine! Do you know where it was purchased!? I definitely have to get one for Lyza. I love you blog by the way! :) Jenika

  2. Great post Missy! I really want to get one of those babycooker's since we'll be giving Grace real food soon. And I love the idea of freezing it in the muffin tins--that's so helpful!

  3. Jenika- I got it at williams sonoma, but you can get them online at a few places, but here is the website for the cooker http://www.beabausa.com/product-babycook.cfm

    Kate- I think you would love this gadget...it makes life so much easier! I love it, and I have not had any problems with it at all..

  4. Thanks Missy for all the great ideas, baby food steamer is next on my "to purchase" list. Eli just had his first taste of peas.. LOVED them!!