Tuesday, June 14, 2016

FOOD: Baby Purees

It's no secret if you know me; I love to cook. When I was working in Corporate America, I would bring in food (usually dessert) weekly. It wasn't so much that I loved my co-workers (though there were some great ones!) but it was a way for me to relax from the stress of my job.

Now that I have my dream job (SAHM), cooking isn't so much a way for me to relax as it is a way to show my family how much I love them. When the pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to start incorporating food in our daughter's diet, I was so excited to start "cooking" for her!

Here are the tools of the trade:

-4 oz containers (love these)
-Produce wash (I try to buy organic whenever possible)
-Plastic bags
-Ice cube trays (love the ones with lids to prevent freezer burn)

A quick note on the BabyCook. There are a lot of baby food cookers on the market but this one is well worth the price tag. I've noticed the majority of the other cookers only act as steamers. This not only steams your produce but also blends it! I love that I only need one gadget to clutter my counters  and love having less dishes to wash! I was able to find ours used on a local for sale group on Facebook.

Step 1: Chop your fruits/veggies! Size doesn't really matter but do try to chop the pieces to roughly the same size so they cook evenly. Right now I'm cooking tomatoes so I did also remove (most) of the seeds.

Step 2: Pour water into the chamber on the left and place the steamer basket full of produce. Place the lid on it and turn the dial to "steam" and let it do its thing!

Step 3: Once the handy light on the dial turns off, the tomatoes are done cooking! Simply drop them from the basket into the main bowl. Replace the lid and turn the dial to blend.

Step 4: Once the puree reaches desired consistency (super smooth for younger babies, chunkier for older) either pour into 4-oz containers for the fridge or into ice cub trays to freeze.

*Handy tip* If freezing the puree, first stick the tray (without the lid) in the refrigerator to cool down before sticking it in the freezer. This, along with either a lid or plastic wrap (or even both), helps to prevent freezer burn.

Step 5 (for freezing): Once trays are completely frozen, empty into plastic bags for storage. Make sure to release as much trapped air as possible.

And you're done! I usually spread this out over the course of one weekend and freeze the majority of prepped food. Depending on how much I've made, I'm set for at least a month. It's so nice knowing what exactly my daughter is eating...and it's way cheaper than buying premade baby food! 

Per the pediatrician's instruction, we introduced a new food once a day everyday for three days. This helps to not only pinpoint her dislikes (nothing so far!) but also any allergies (we've been lucky). Once the three days are past, that food makes it into the rotation. Since she's eaten pretty much every fruit/vegetable available to us/appropriate for her age, I'm now starting to combine ingredients to make blends.

This book has been so helpful! Each chapter is designed for a certain age group. In addition to the food I've made, we also give her baby cereal (aka "paste") and meat purees. Sometimes I'll add dry cereal to thicken a watery puree. My girl loves to eat! Here are some of her favorites so far:

-Apples or pears with a little bit of cinnamon
-Spinach and mango blend (just like mama's smoothies!)
-Avocado (mama likes this one too-it doesn't need to be cooked, just stir to desired consistency!)

Don't be afraid to use frozen produce! The majority of fruits or vegetables are frozen at the peak of freshness-sometimes I can buy frozen produce that's fresher than what's available at our commissary.