Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Making baby food...SO EASY!

For all the controlling/protective/do it yourself/organic/money saving mommies out there, making your own baby food is extremely easy and gratifying! I really want Will to eat as healthy as possible (none of those stinkin perservatives...) AND I want to introduce him to ALL types of food (cauliflower, white peaches, yellow squash from his Great Nana's garden :), etc.)

Seriously, it is SO easy, especially at first b/c it takes a while before they eat more than an ounce in a sitting. All you need is fresh fruit/veggies and a food processor. Advertisers will have you believe that you HAVE to have a "baby food maker"...but you don't.

Here's the process in a nutshell (pictures and details below): Steam, bake, or boil the fruit/veggies. Transfer them to the food processor and puree, then scoop the food out into ice trays and wrap them in plastic wrap. When frozen, pop them out into labeled freezer bags. I put the date and food on the freezer bag. And presto!.....Homemade organic baby food!

I will admit, I do not make ALL his food. I don't like making bananas, so I buy them for now. When he can eat bigger chunks, I'll start mashing them up for him. I have bought foods to introduce them into his diet. The first foods I introduced to him were peas, sweet potato, and butternut squash. I gave these foods to him "out of the jar" first, and when I was confident he was tolerating them, I made these foods.

Today, I'm going to take you through the steps of making butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and yellow squash...get ready, b/c after you see this, you'll want to make your own!

This is to show you what the finished product will look like. These are apples and pears that are in my freezer now. When you first start giving your baby solid foods, he probably won't eat a whole cube, but it won't take too long before he's eating 3 cubes!! Mine is 8 months now, and he eats 3-4 ounces for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

First - Butternut Squash!

One butternut squash goes for about $1.29 at my lo
cal grocery store. One squash ends up making about 30 ounces of food, which would be roughly $6.50 of the store bought stuff. Already saving money! It's important to remember that most foods, even fruit has to be cooked before pureeing.

Rinse the squash. Cut the butternut in half long ways, scoop all the seeds out, and lay cut side down on a baking sheet. TIP: use a baking sheet with raised sides b/c you have to put about half inch of water in the pan.

Bake the squash at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until you can stick a fork in it pretty easily. The top of the squash will take longer b/c it's thicker, so check this part with the fork. Your house will smell pretty good while it's baking :)

Doesn't it look good???

Let cool then scoop out all the goodness into a food processor. Depending on the size of the squash and your food processor, you might have to do two rounds of pureeing. DO NOT discard the cooking liquid, this will need to be used to add to the puree to make it the right baby food consistency. You might have to add a bit of water on top of the cooking liquid. No worries if you don't get the consistency exactly right, you can always add a touch of water to thin it out when you thaw it later on.

Once pureed, scoop out the puree into ice cube trays. You can buy the fancy silicone ones with the lids, or you can buy the cheap ones (I did) and wrap plastic wrap around it. Each cube holds roughly an ounce. Wrap it up, and stack it in the freezer. I always let it set up overnight. The next day, take it out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes. This will help it pop out into the bags easily. And you're done! Now you have baby food in neat one ounce cubes on hand to thaw for your baby :)

Second - Sweet Potato
I can never remember if it has an "e" on the end...ha! I can't remember how much sweet potatoes are, but I know they're pretty cheap. I'd get 2 or 3 for your first time. I think 2 should make about 20 ounces.

Rinse Potatoes. Take skin off with veggie peeler.

Cut into chucks, and make sure they are similar sizes so it cooks evenly.

Steam potatoes until tender (do not overcook!). You can use a steamer basket or whatever works for you.

When done, remove from heat and scoop into the food processor along with some cooking liquid.

Puree until smooth!

Follow freezing directions from above!

TIP: you can easily make squash and sweet potatoes the same day to save some's how.....wash veggies, peel potatoes, cut and scoop squash, get the squash in the oven, get double boiler ready and heating, cut up potatoes, get squash out of the oven, puree potatoes and put in ice trays while squash cools, rinse food processor, puree squash and out in ice trays, wrap all the trays, and put in freezer! Takes about an hour total, maybe a little longer your first time :)

Third - Yellow Squash

My Nana (Will's Great Nana) has a garden and she brings me yellow squash from time to time. How awesome that Will gets to eat home grown veggies?!?! Cost--free!!! I think I used 4 or 5 small yellow squash and it made about 16 ounces total.

Scrub the squash with a veggie scrubber. Your baby will end up eating the skin, that's why you scrub it. Cut into slices.

If using small squash like I did, just cutting into slices will be good enough. If you're using larger squash, you might have to cut the slices in half.

Steam until tender.

Scoop out into food processor and puree (seeds included).

I made this for Will a couple weeks ago and added butter to the puree....yummy!!! I made some with butter and some without butter. I did this b/c you should introduce butter like you would any other food. For example, I gave Will plain yellow squash for three days, then I gave him yellow squash with butter the following three days. Since he can now eat butter, I can add a touch to other foods like sweet potatoes! Once pureed, scoop into ice trays and follow the above freezing directions!

Now you're ready to start making your own baby food! Please let me know how your baby food adventures turn out and if you have any ideas or advice!