Homemade Baby Food

When our pediatrician said we could start giving Addison solid food, I was ecstatic because all I saw was the end of pumping!  My excitement lasted right up until she gave me the informative baby food pamphlet and saw that the restricted/suggested food list was gonna take some work to follow.  My excitement returned when I went shopping for baby food and saw the great assortment of creative and wacky flavors available (apple peach oatmeal; spinach lentil brown rice; pumpkin and spinach).  At the register my excitement went away when I calculated the cost per ounce, and further inspection didn’t reveal any hidden gold or diamonds in the jar.  After feeding her a couple jars (and tasting for myself), I wasn’t impressed with the ingredients or sources for the common, supermarket baby food; they all seemed bland and processed.

With that low level of excitement, and some spare time, I busted out the baby Breeza we got for a Christmas gift.  The helpful pamphlet made setup easy, and the basic baby food recipes made for a good starting point to start creating homemade baby food.  The BB is great, it is like a food processor that steams as well as purées all in the same container.

In the summer our garden produced almost all of the raw ingredients for baby food, but now that the garden isn’t producing, we rely on organic produce to keep the baby fed.  After some trial and error (and a few messes), I am now freezing the semi-liquid baby food in ice cube trays, then transferring to freezer bags when it is frozen.  This allows for easy measuring (that is if you measure in cubes), easy transport (mason jars work well), and quick defrost in the microwave.

On any given day Addison gets sweet potatoes (her favorite), yams, rice, quinoa, ground turkey, fresh chukar, apples, beets, chard, and kale.  She really enjoys my concoctions, and I know exactly what she is eating, which makes me feel good.  Exact comparisons are not very easy, but cost wise the homemade baby food pencils out a little bit cheaper than store bought.

Hopefully she will get a taste for these healthy ingredients and be on her way to a lifetime of healthy eating.

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Seal it Up

With all the veggies my husband and I produce each summer in our garden, it’s hard to keep up and eat them all ourselves. When our friends and neighbors stopped saying hi (and started locking their cars) for fear of being saddled with a bag of assorted garden veggies, we decided that we should start saving our extra bounty for the colder months. In the past we just used freezer bags to keep the veggies sort of free of freezer burn for a little while. While the ice crystals on freezer burned green beans could be considred beautiful in the correct light, they are far from appetizing.

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Here is what green beans look like after spending the winter vacationing in the freezer in a ziplock bag…

So, to fix this problem, my husband purchased a fancy vacuum sealer food saver. I’m sure you’ve seen these on infomercials or even in some retail stores. We thought it would be a whole lot easier to save veggies, fish, etc. without it going bad and having to throw it out. Plus the veggies we would accumulate would also come in handy for homemade healthy baby food!

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Crook necks/zucchini

So far we have been able to vacuum seal a lot of chard, kale, zucchini, crookneck and even a couple of blue grouse (not from the garden) for this winter. It isn’t difficult to use – reading the manual and internet searching are a good way to get started, but here a couple of hard earned tips if you are inclined to try saving summer excess with a vacuum sealer:
First, before throwing a whole squash into a vacuum sealer bag, cut it up and blanch (had to look that one up, but it is basically boiling for a couple minutes) the veggies before sealing (this goes for leafy veggies too). Second, put the blanched veggies on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they are well frozen – this way the bags will seal without excess juice getting sucked up by the vacuum and interfering with the seal.

I won’t say what brand/model sealer we are using (seems like a personal choice, and I don’t want to interfere, but it is pretty obvious from the picture below), but I will say that using a sealer is easy and highly recommended – almost as fast as using a ziplock, but way better than pretending freezer burned veggies taste almost like fresh.
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Have you ever used a vacuum sealer for food?

Cook it Up

When it comes to food, my husband thinks I’m a “picky eater”. He says I don’t eat my greens (I do eat my veggies, but I don’t have to like it). As I have become more interested in fitness and nutrition, the more i learn that leafy green vegetables (the ones i don’t really like) have major health benefits.

If Popeye isn’t a good enough role model, just google the “health benefits of leafy green vegetables”, and there is no shortage of web pages extolling the virtues of kale, chard and spinach (everything on the Internet is true, as we all know).

The main idea is that kale has vitamins like vitamin K (who even knew vitamins went that far down the alphabet?), iron (good for everything) and even omega-3fatty acids. The list of benefits is basically a list of all the health issues that have become alarmingly common over the past few years, like high blood pressure and even Alzheimer’s.

So, back to my original point of not liking kale, but realizing that I need to eat more of it, I found a recipe that actually tastes good and is really easy as a plus. I call it “kale with onions, garlic and bell peppers”, and that is all there is to it. Just brown the onions and bell peppers and garlic in olive oil, add a large handful of coarsely chopped leafy green veggies, and cook until the greens are wilted.

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Besides eating healthy green vegetables this week, on Monday I had a really good session of Brazil Butt lift, and Tuesday I drug myself through a turbo fire workout (just one of those days when I wasn’t feeling it, probably should have popped a handful of spinach!). Otherwise, I am feeling good and enjoying this phase of pregnancy when I don’t feel like puking all the time.

If you have any favorite recipes for any of the leafy green veggies I mentioned, please share!