Click through to get Courtney’s tips for what fresh, seasonal ingredients to use when preparing healthy homemade baby food as well as what tools and tricks of the trade can help make the job easier. Your babies and your bank account will thank you for taking up the task of preparing fresh, organic food at home!
Courtney recommends buying produce that are not only organically grown but also locally grown. That way you can be sure that you’re getting the freshest possible ingredients, which offer the most nutrients to your growing baby. You’ll also find the best deals on fruits and veggies that are in-season. Buy items like butternut squash, peas and green beans in bulk while they’re in-season, then process and freeze to use them year-round. Here are some seasonal recipes from Whole Diligence:
Beets with Quinoa: Roast red or golden beets—washed and topped, tossed in coconut oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper—at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let cool and slip skins off. Cut into bite size chunks. Mix with cooked quinoa and shredded spinach. Toss with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and raisins (if appropriate). Puree or mash with a fork for littler ones. This is a great meal for the whole family to enjoy!
Green Bean, Potato and Spinach Puree: Blend and serve: 1/4 lb. green beans steamed, 1 cooked potato, 4 steamed spinach leaves, 1 cup homemade chicken broth, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Variations: substitute peas, asparagus or broccoli for green beans. Substitute kale or swiss chard for spinach.
Chicken and Kale: Cook 6 chicken thighs drizzled with coconut oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Add a few large kale leaves and a finely chopped onion, and cook for another 10-15 minutes (check on the chicken; be sure not to burn anything). Chop and toss ingredients, pulse in a food processor or puree, depending on child and stage. Variations: substitute spinach or swiss chard for kale. Add crushed garlic at the end. Add bacon. Add parmesan cheese. Add fresh herbs, like sage or basil.
Banana, Blueberry and Avocado “Pudding”: Puree 1/2 avocado, 1 banana, 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries. Serve. Variations: substitute other berries or fruit for the blueberries, add 1/2 cup of whole milk yogurt and/or cereal grains.
Courtney points out that there are several ways to go about pureeing your baby food—some easier than others and some pricier than others. Here are a few tool options:
- Beaba Baby Cook Baby Food Maker: it steams, blends, warms, and defrosts
- Baby Bullet: purees, blends, and mills grains
- Vitamix or other high-power blender
- A standard blender or food processor may possibly do the trick, but if you decide to make baby food-making a regular routine, Courtney recommends stepping up to one of the above.
- Start small if you’re a bit intimidated by just mashing up a banana. Keep it simple. Then, you can move to more complicated recipes and such.
- Make “Teething Pops” by freezing leftover smoothie, baby food mixture, fresh veggie/fruit juice in a popsicle mold. Try this fun combination on a hot summer day: pineapple, banana, spinach, and unfiltered apple juice.
- As your baby gets older and can handle more foods and flavors, just blend up or mash up the dinner you are having.
- For picky eaters, keep trying and reintroducing fruits and veggies that appear to not be as well-liked. Start this young and stick with it. My picky eater of 9 YEARS has recently become a good eater who eats and tries everything without hassle. Stick with it, it pays off!
Check out www.wholediligence.com for more cooking tips as well as resources for CSA veggies and local ingredients. Ventura/Santa Barbara/Los Angeles ladies should definitely sign up for one of Courtney’s classes, including Coffee & Cooking, Kid Cooking, Cocktails & Cooking and Private Cooking. And if you can’t make it in-person, she offers her cooking class tips and recipes in her online store.