October 12, 2010

Wholesome Baby Food

I found this cool website that teaches you all about what to feed your baby and when, and how to make your own baby food. And it's all wholesome! It's better than going out and buying a book (except you need to see the computer/recipe if you make some of the stuff).

For starting to Feed my 6 month old boy, I've been making large batches of food and freezing them in ice cube trays, then popping them out and putting into large bags that I mark with the month and year. They should last just fine for 3-6 months no problem. I did mashed bananas that I got discounted at the store because they were already ripe. I also baked our pumpkin I didn't carve from Halloween and then mashed that and froze in cubes. Not to mention steaming a bag of carrots and then mashing those (with a little water) and freezing them. IT's been great and a time saver in the long run.
When my baby is hungry I just grab a few ice cubes (each is about one ounce) and put them in a dish to microwave for 30 seconds. I have to make sure I stir well, so there aren't hot spots. But it's great for mixing foods too. I'll throw a banana cube in with two or three carrot cubes, un case he isn't use to the carrots. Or, I'll add some formula powder to the carrots instead...and thin out more with water if the consistency is too thick. Very versatile!
IF the cubes are a hassle, I've found avocado and banana to be super easy to just cut open and mash with a fork. But if you have time, steam some apples, pears, carrots, or sweet potatoes (I found a super sweet yummy hawaiian purple sweet potato that is delish!), and then mash with a fork. Super great! (I steam about 3 or 4 sweet potatoes for 30 minutes and then just turn off the stove and let them sit for awhile until I take them out. Then I just store them in the fridge for the week, whenever I want to pull one our and mash it).
Then, if you want to add even more, you can blend up some oats or rice and then cook in large quantities for the week. I grind a cup of oats and then add that into boiling water for about three minutes, adjusting consistency as I go. So, for breakfast I'll put a few spoonfuls of cooked ground oats with a banana cube, and now I'm starting to add in a strawberry. So fun.
Here's a recipe from that site I mentioned earlier, about homemade cereal. All you do is grind up brown rice (which is healthier than white) and mix it with water.
1/4 c. rice powder (brown rice ground in blender or food processor, or do the same with Oats)
1 cup water

1. Bring liquid to boil in saucepan. Add the rice powder while stirring constantly.
3. Simmer for 10 minutes, whisking constantly, mix in formula or breast milk and fruits if desired
3. Serve warm.
Now, this is if you even want to use rice cereal. Afterall, it's not a must. There are tons of people who think rice cereals are empty calories and just a way to get in the fortified iron, so they just start straight with veggies and fruits. (Which is why brown rice is a better alternative, but you shouldn't give it to the baby before 6 months, because it's not quite as easy to digest, compared to white.)
Another alternative is to use Quinoa, which is one of the least allergenic grains (actually not a grain, but grouped with them and full of protein and other nutrients).
There's also a group that believes in baby-led weaning, and they skip the pureed food and just start feeding their babies the appropriate foods which baby can feed himself (like banana or cooked/cooled mushy carrots, etc.). They believe that this helps the baby eat how much he wants, rather than the parents trying to get the baby to eat a specific amount at a specific time. Granted, they do say having an eating schedule is good, but they realize that it's a flexible time window where the baby has more time to feed himself until he's done. They also say that this helps the baby not worry about textures and such, since he never got use to only eating pureed textures.
I kind of like the idea, but I'm not sure how it'd work, so I'll need to try it sometime...We'll see. It's make cooking easier, but the clean up may be horrendous. Hmm...
Also, I have a dehydrator and the booklet suggests dehydrating bananas and apples and carrots, etc. You can do them in sticks, so baby can chew on them, or in pieces which you can then reconstitute later with warm water and then you have instant puree without losing nutrients or having to boil the foods. Fun idea to easy have stuff on hand and not having to go to the hassle of freezing ice cubes of your homemade purees, which is also an excellent option.

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