|The "ugly carrot"! He helped me out with the challenge.|
Here I am at work, eating pizza and hamburgers at lunch, running off to get cookies and cupcakes on my breaks, but when I get home...it's healthy food time. Someday, I know they are going to figure out this little secret of mine, but right now (and forever, actually) I want my kids to eat healthy. It's my job to give them a healthy start.
That starts right at the beginning.
So, I decided to start making homemade baby food. Now, don't get me wrong, there is no judgement passed here. I know all parents make the best decisions for their particular family situations. This is just a decision I made for my family, but it doesn't mean it's the only way to go. There are many reasons I chose to make my own baby food, but I will list a few...
- I can see how the food was processed, or not. There are no strangers or random machines mushing up my kid's food. Plus, many of the baby food used to package commercial baby food still contains BPA.
- I can use organic or home grown veggies and fruits. Even though recent research (which you can find for free on ssjcpl's online databases) suggests that organic food might not be any more nutritious than regular, there really hasn't been much research on the long term effects of pesticides and hormones on young children.
- The more the food is processed, the more nutrients escape. Also, by making my own food, I can control the way it is cooked. For example, steaming removes less vitamins and nutrients than boiling or microwaving.
- Organic baby food is available for purchase at the supermarket and online. It is also healthy and minimally processed, but it is expensive! And that, my friends, is probably one of the biggest reasons I decided to make my own baby food. It is so much cheaper! And healthy to boot!
Master the skill of making and storing homemade baby food. For this illustration, I will use fresh carrots and I will be making food for a beginning eater (approximately 6 months). I will make a large batch of food to save time (I am a working mom, after all. I don't have time to do this every night!).
As I said in the introduction, steaming is generally the healthiest way to cook veggies. According to my book, the steam allows more of the nutrients to remain in the vegetable. To steam veggies, use a steamer in a pot, with very little water in the bottom. Put the veggies into the steamer, boil the water, and remove the veggies once they are very soft. Easy peasy!
The veggies can be mashed up several ways. You could use a manual potato masher, a fork, an immersion blender, a regular blender, or a food processor. The type of tool used depends on how mushed up you want the food, what type of food it is, and the age and skill of your child. You may want to make the food thicker for a baby that has been eating awhile, thinner and more watery for a baby just started on solids.
After blending or mashing, the baby food should be given to the baby, and any excess can be stored. If it is a small batch, put it in the fridge for a few days. If it needs to be stored longer, put it in the freezer right away. It can be stored frozen for about a month. Food that has already been defrosted after cooking should never be refrozen. Also, according to the book I checked out, do not store the food in the same container you used to feed baby, because the spoon dipped in deposits bacteria.
There are lots of ways to store baby food. You can place drops of food on wax paper and freeze or store in glass or plastic freezer-safe containers. I chose to freeze the baby food in ice cube trays, then, once frozen pop them out and stick them in a bag. For me, it takes up less room. However, I often break the ice cube trays when trying to remove the food.
Success! My baby food is safely stored in my freezer and my baby loves her healthy, colorful, tasty carrots! I spent $4 on two bags of organic baby carrots and created 24 cubes, and it took me less than an hour.
How about you, readers (if you are still there)? Have any of you ever tried to make baby food? I would love some tips!
Also, if you have any fun challenge ideas, please post!
P.S. This week is a double challenge...stay tuned for my next one.