Wednesday, October 8, 2008
A lot of people have been asking me about how I do homemade baby food. It's really simple and fun. I get a huge amount of satisfaction seeing my girls eat the foods that I prepare. Even though sometimes it's as simple as boiling peas and pureeing, those peas were in a pot on my stove! This morning a lady from my Mom's of Multiples group asked me to send her an email on how I prepared most of my foods. I decided to post the email here, one because it is a encapsulation of what my girls are eating right now and how I've been preparing it. I'm sure, like a lot of things I'll forget how I did it as the years go past. So here is the email I sent:
I've made all of my girls food, they haven't had any jarred food. I try to keep it as simple as possible. The most complicated foods are the grains but even they aren't hard. Frozen fruits and vegetables are excellent for making homemade baby food because when a food is frozen, the manufacturer picks it at the optimal time and then flash freeze it. Now days, sometimes frozen foods have more nutrients than foods that have been traveling on trucks to get to your supermarket! Just make sure that the only ingredient is the food of choice and that there are no added sugars or sodium. The only exception is with some fruits; the manufacture may add absorbic acid to prevent coloration, this is totally fine. (I've udpated this post on Feb 18, 2011 with new information that I have learned since the original post. I wish I had known then what I know now about nutrition. Even still, making your own babyfood is 10x better than anything store bought. If you are reading this you are doing your family a huge act of love and care! Please email me (or leave a comment, which sends me an email) with ANY questions or concerns. I'd love to help you out anyway I can. I'm very passionate about food!)
Frozen Vegetables & Fruits:
1) I buy frozen: green beans, peas, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, peaches, mangos (a fav of the girls) blueberries... etc.
With frozen foods I just steam or boil them for a bit, throw in my blender and puree, add water as necessary to thin. With broccoli, I find that using a lot of stem pieces and mixing with a baked potato helps with the consistency.
Fresh Vegetables & Fruits:
2) Some foods I prefer to bake: sweet potato, zucchini, beets, white potato (I use this to mix with other foods), apples and winter squashes. I haven't tried eggplant yet, but it should be a good one too.
With most baked foods I actually roast them with a bit of olive oil until they start to caramelize which gives a yummy flavor! Apples I put in a dish with some water. I tend to put baked foods in the food processor instead of the blender. The zucchini (and eggplant) doesn't need any water added, it will get really runny!
3) Some people choose not to make their own grains, but it isn't hard. I usually do one cup of raw grain at a time. So far I've done: oatmeal, brown rice, millet, and barley. The process is the same for all grains. Take a cup of your grain and grind it. I use a magic bullet but a coffee grinder and possibly a food processor will work just fine. You want a very, very powdery finish. Then SOAK your powdered grains in enough water to cover and about an inch more for absorbtion. Add a splash of BRAGGS brand apple cider vinegar. Let this sit for 8-12 hours. This breaks down the phytic acid that is in grains. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that humans cannot digest and causes bloating and discomfort. I can guarantee that any store bought grains are not prepared in this correct way.
After soaking, start with bringing a cup of water to boil in your pan. Have 2-3 more cups of water available next to your stove. Then add the soaked grains to the boiling water. Set your timer to 10 minutes and start whisking. Add more and more water keeping a nice smooth (easily whisked) consistency. Err towards the thicker side, because you can always thin it later. At the end of 10 min your grains will be cooked (it doesn't take as long to cook the soaked powder as a whole grain.) Divide up into your ice cubes and freeze. When you thaw, sometimes you will need to thin it out.
For this process I actually use frozen breastmilk (instead of water) to cook with. This isn't recommended by a lot of people because you aren't supposed to unfreeze breastmilk and then refreeze it. From what I can gather it loses nutrients but doesn't actually become harmful. I figure it has more nutrients than water and my girls won't take a bottle and I want to use up my stored milk! You can also use formula.
** updated 2/18/11 From new research I've been doing, babies don't need grains added to their diet at all until age 18 months or 2 years when they get their rear molars. (Source: Weston A. Price Foundation)
4) Foods I don't cook: soft pears, avocado, bananas. I usually just mush with a fork and serve right away.
5) So far, I've only done chicken thighs and ground beef. I bake the chicken and sauté the beef. Then I puree in the food processor with a baked potato. This gives it a better consistency. I've even added a roasted garlic clove for taste! Adding a bit of olive oil to the mixture will help the consistency and is very healthy for your baby.
I did not try this with my girls (wish I had known about it!!!), but as early as 6 months feeding your baby raw pasture raised beef liver is one of THE best foods you can offer your baby. Apparently most babies naturally love it anyway. Puree it in a blender and feed it to them. If you don't feel comfortable with raw meat (which raw beef liver from a pastured cow is safe!) you can cook it and then puree it.
6) I give the girls Whole Milk Greek Yogurt. It has no added sugars like YoBaby. I just mix in whatever fruit I want and away we go! I also feed them cottage cheese mixed with fruit.
Finger foods: (what I call level one)
7) I've just started finger foods. Soft cheese (String cheese is a great portion for twins, one stick diced up seems just perfect for my girls), cut up pears, steamed veggies. Sweet potato pancakes or other veggie pancakes are soft and easy to gum.Tofu/Veggie burgers are a good source of protein. Mini meatballs made with pureed carrots and applesauce are soft and easy to eat. Do not feed your baby cheerios. I wish I had known this with my kids. Commercial cereals are completely toxic for people to consume. They are loaded with unnecessary sugar (even regular cheerios) and the grains that they use are extruded at very high heat which turns the proteins rancid. Eating rancid food causes free radicals in your body. Over time, free radicals can turn into cancer. We no longer have anything but homemade cereal in our house. More info HERE.
Spices & Oils:
I've started adding spices to some things. basil, thyme, oregano, I even tried a non-spicy curry and the girls LOVED it. Also, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla. Flax seed oil is great to add to cooked foods to add DHA. A lot of baby foods are fortified with DHA, and I was worried that my girls wouldn't get the nutritional benefit. I just add a teaspoon of flax seed oil to their lunch or dinner serving a couple times a week. Adding real, organic pasture raised butter and coconut oil are also excellent to add at any meal.
I spoon/pour all of the purees into plain ice cube trays, cover and freeze. The next day I put them in labeled ziplock bags. To reheat I just put how many cubes I want in a bowl and microwave.
A few great things about homemade babyfood are that baby learns to like YOUR cooking (not processed) cooking. You can adjust the consistency of your purees, I now just mash my sweet potatoes instead of actually pureeing them. It is cheaper than buying store bought baby food. You get to add spices and develop your babies palate!
One important thing to note is to slowly introduce new foods to your baby. Usually one new food every 3 or so days. I also use www.wholesomebabyfood.com as a reference on when to introduce what foods. Certain foods are harder for baby to digest and need to have more mature digestive tracts. For instance: yogurt isn't recommended until 7-8 months old. Also keep in mind, that this is for full term babies. If you have preemies go by their adjusted age, since that is how developed their intestines are.
The last thing to remember is until age one, table food is just "extra." Babies need to get the most of their nutrients from breastmilk. Never feed your baby sugar, artificial sugar or low-fat anything. They especially need fats to grow their brain! Adding butter, olive oil and coconut oil are great additions to your babyfood.