In case you missed it yesterday, our fav gear and kind of how we go about food with Beck.
It is the day of baby food making! I love it so much. When we were planning how and what Beck would eat I knew I wanted to make as much stuff as possible for her for exactly one reason: cost. Cost to us, cost to the environment, all of the things. Babies (at least ours) produce a crazy amount of trash with diapers, wipes, and OMG YOU GUYS THE PAPER TOWEL USE IS OUT OF CONTROL. Baby food packaging just was going to add something to our output, so I really wanted to avoid that as much as possible. Plus, baby food is so expensive, and throwing frozen peas in a blender seemed easy. And it is!
I've kind of made a lot of this up as I've gone, and some things have worked and some haven't, but, behold, some of my lame cooking methods for Beck.
In general, I roast, steam, or microwave food for Beck. Then I make the food smaller with a fork, food processor, or blender. There are only a few things that I puree to death; even when I use the blender I try to leave some texture in the food so she starts to learn what food feels like in her mouth and work on chewing with her pitiful little gums, which is hugely entertaining to watch. I do some raw foods like banana, peach, and avocado, and those I mash up on the fly so they don't turn brown sitting for days in the fridge. My most recent hack is frozen bags of ANYTHING that can be microwaved, pureed, BOOM 5 little baby meals all at once. I've found that Target and Publix put their store brands on sale a good bit, and Trader Joe's has good organic frozen stuff if that matters to you. I also try to cook things that we are also going to eat so that I'm not making 1,923 random small plates per week (which I secretly love but don't have time for). That has resulted in Beck eating more variety of foods since I just blend up whatever we're eating. She also sometimes has garlic breath, which is incredibly unfortunate.
Another product I've experimented with is oatmeal cereal. I bought a box of the Gerber stuff and sprinkled it on thinner foods to make them thick and add some calories. After that box was gone I bought a box of quick-cooking steel cut oats. I blended the entire canister until I had sort of an oatmeal flour. Now I sprinkle THAT in thin or watery foods. It has kind of a grainy texture, but Beck doesn't seem to mind at all and it is way cheaper than Gerber.
There are a lot of things that say ONLY give your baby unsalted plain vegetables, and when they like that they can have fruit and things with, you know, flavor. I get the logic in that you want your kid to know what stuff tastes like, and there are a lot of things that Beck will eat plain, but, honestly, why? She's eventually going to eat salty and sweet things, so I ignore that. I also give her things with onion and garlic in it and she's lived so far. One thing that I have noticed is that if I start a meal with fruit she'll be a little more hesitant on savory/salty stuff, so I kind of use fruit as a meal-ender to be sure she gets the veg too.
I would also like to notify you of a questionable parenting moment before we get below to the part where I try to be a good mom and make fresh healthy food for my kid. I have decided that old food needs to be used up and I want to keep less nonperishables around, so we know what we have all the time, all that jazz, so in a fit of genius I pureed a can of beef and potato soup and fed it to Beck last week. She loved it. I felt bad slash resourceful.
Foods! Here are some of Beck's favs and how I deal with them:
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes: wrap potatoes individually in foil, bake at 425F for 45 minutes. Turn oven off and let potatoes sit in oven until you want to deal with them (this ensures they're suuuuuper soft). Take off foil, peel the potatoes, and mash with a fork. Store in the fridge. This is one of Beck's absolute favorites, and I love it because it's super low maintenance.
- Corn: bagged and frozen, microwaved and cooled per package directions. I use the food processor for this (or blender if it's already dirty from other baby foods) to leave some texture and just break down the kernels a little bit.
- Steamed Carrots: a few handful of baby carrots or cut carrots in a little pot, 1 inch of water in the bottom. Cover, cook on low for 30 minutes, checking the water level every 10 minutes. Add more water if needed, carrots are done when they are super soft. I mash these into the cooking liquid with a fork and add some spices - a sprinkle of curry powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin, chili powder, or a blend of any of those!
- Roasted Carrots: just like for grownups! Cut carrots into chunks, place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with any spice you like, roast at 425F for 30 minutes. Roasted veggies get kind of a skin on them, so I chop these in a food processor and sometimes add some water to thin out the mixture. This method ends up being a little bit thicker/chewier so is better for bigger babies.
- Spinach: I steam or heat in the microwave and then blend the whole package (because it's so stringy) with some olive oil and salt, then keep it in the fridge to stir into other stuff (potatoes, corn, whatever) to add nutrition and green stuff.
- Peaches: peeled, chopped, mashed with a fork. I sprinkle in oatmeal cereal/flour about a tablespoon at a time to thicken it up.
- Banana: plain, mashed with a fork. It's soft enough that Beck can handle some bigger pieces. Sometimes I stir in a spoonful of peanut or almond butter just for kicks.
- Peas: steamer bag again, microwaved per the instructions. I blend the whole bag with ½ cup or so of spinach (see above), some sprigs of fresh herbs, a sprinkle of salt, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. It gets a great thick but smooth texture and Beck loves it, which makes me happy.
- Baked Apples: Cut apples away from the core and place skin side down in a baking dish. Add ½ inch of water to the bottom of the dish, sprinkle all over with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, or a combo. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the apples are very soft. Blend or puree with the cooking liquid, add a few tablespoons of oatmeal cereal until the mixture is thick enough to spoon into your kid's gaping trap.
- Refried Beans: from a can! already mashed! Spoon into kid's mouth. I add some water to thin them out a little bit.
- Hummus + Babaganoush: see above. Baby garlic breath ftw.
- Cucumber/Watermelon/Tomatoes: I blend these and other very watery produce with enough oatmeal cereal to thicken them (always more than I think), and Beck can't get enough.
- Roasted Blueberries: frozen blueberries roasted uncovered at 400F for 20 minutes until super juicy. Blend with water to thin or oatmeal cereal to thicken, depending on how juicy your berries are. I did this last week and Beck ate ONE FULL CUP of them in one sitting, after she'd already had dinner.
- Steamed Cauliflower: like the carrots, remove the leaves and stem of a whole or half head of cauliflower. Put in a pot, add an inch of water, turn to medium-high, cook until super soft. Mash with a fork, sprinkle in a few tablespoons of parmesan.
So. Some of our favs so far. We also give Beck bites of whatever we're eating just for kicks, and she hasn't turned her nose up at anything so far. Last week she ate a whole tortilla at a restaurant which was phenomenal for grown up conversations, and also made me laugh because those teething crackers are ridiculously expensive and BECK HAS LEARNED TO FEED THEM TO THE DOGS. Mother effer.