Christina

Homemade Baby Food Tools And Tips. Plus, a Recipe for Roasted Cinnamon Sweet Potato White Bean Mash

I have been obsessed with making my own baby food since my first son was born over three years ago. Confession: I think my obsession with it actually started when I was a little girl and I saw the movie Baby Boom. Whatever. I won’t go into all of the reasons why I feel that making your own baby food rocks because, if it ain’t for you, it ain’t for you. I know plenty of folks who have no interest in making food for their babes when they can just as easily buy it in the store. And that’s OK. Right on! Do you. Parenting is all about doing what works for you and your lifestyle. These days there are some really great organic pre-packaged baby foods on the market which is wonderful. However, making your own baby food really is super healthy, simpler than most people think and A LOT less expensive. So, if you want to give it a try, this post’s for you.

I’ve been on both ends of the mommy-hood spectrum— full-time working mom outside of the home (with my first son) and work-at-home mom (after my second son) and with both lifestyles, it’s been possible for me to manage making my own baby food. It really is totally doable and not at all overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be stressful and you don’t need loads of fancy equipment. Keep it simple, do a little research and most importantly, have fun!

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Research baby food making techniques and recipes. While baby food making is simple, especially if you already know how to cook, it does require proper technique. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the process so you can be sure you are making the food in proper way as to maximize flavor and nutrition and minimize any chance of contamination. After all, we are feeding tiny humans, here.  There are some amazing books and websites out there to guide you in the right direction. Once you get the gist of the basic techniques, you are free to go wild. Play around with flavors and textures with each stage of your babies development. This is supposed to be fun, and it is!!!  Hands down, my favorite resource for all things baby food is WholesomeBabyFood.com— one of the webs top rated sites. It’s really a one stop shop in the sense that not only are you getting recipes, you’re also getting information on allergies and some great tips on introducing solids. From infant to toddler, you cannot get a better resource for everything baby food and it’s all just a click away.

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You really don’t need uni-tasking fancy-schmancy baby food making devices to get your baby food-on. For reals. I think some of those appliances are ridiculous and such a waste of money when all you really need are a few pieces of equipment that you probably already own thanks to your bridal shower. And guess what? now you finally have an excuse to use them. Hooray!

Food Processor or Blender: I used a mini version of this bad boy to make all of my first sons food. it was so much easier than whipping out my bigger heavier version and it worked like charm for small batches. A bigger one definitely comes in handy for larger batches but, if you are short on cash and counter-space, this puppy can be had for around $29 bucks. Plus, when the baby has outgrown purees, you have a food processor that you can use for a million other culinary adventures. You’re welcome! You can also use a blender but most blenders, in my opinion are pretty lousy at this sort of thing unless you have the mother of all blenders—The Vitamix! it’s a freaking fortune and I’m not ashamed to say I have one (thanks mom!) because it literally has replaced at least three appliances in my kitchen and I use it every. single. day. This is not meant to be a Vitamix commercial but, it f you feel like dropping some dough, you will not be disappointed.

Steamer Basket: I bet you already have one of these buried in the back of one of your cabinets and rarely if ever use it. I bet some of you don’t even know what it is used for, amiright? Psssst…it’s a steamer and it rules! It’s cheap (about $5 smackaroos), easy to clean and adjusts to fit inside most pots. Use it to steam up any of your fave fruit, veggies or even protein in a flash!

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One Ounce Storage: I’ve literally tried every single baby food storage item on the market and there are only two I feel are worth buying. When you first start out, your baby will only be eating tiny amounts of food at a time so it is best to store it in once ounce portions. The best way I have found to do this is buy using a BPA free covered ice try like the ones Fresh Baby makes. Note: I only felt I needed two trays because I would make a batch of food, freeze it, pop them out into a freezer storage bag and wash the trays for the next use. The small quantity stage goes by so fast so don’t go nuts buying too many 1 ounce portion storage containers. You won’t need them.

Two Ounce Storage And Beyond: As your baby begins to grow and eat larger portions, it’s good to invest in some two-four ounce storage containers. After three years and two kids, my fave are still Baby Cubes. Besides being BPA , Phthalates free (muy importante!!) and freezer and dishwasher safe. And possibly my most favorite feature is the permanently attached lids—no messing about looking for lost liddage in a sea of sippy cups. Hooray!

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Busy parents are always looking for ways to save time and money and this recipe does both. This is a recipe that I can make for guests and also serve to my 10 month old. The combination of white beans and roasted sweet potatoes makes for an excellent dip for a party and an amazing meal for your little one. The beans give this puree a nice creamy texture and they add an inexpensive protein punch to baby’s meal. A protein boost from beans means it’s also perfect for the vegetarians in your family.

Sweet potatoes are often a favorite first food for baby and adding the mild tasting white beans enhances the nutrients without changing the taste. Perfect for even the pickiest eaters. People of all ages will love this as a side or even served chilled as a dip with some toasted pita chips.

Roasted Cinnamon Sweet Potato White Bean Mash

Ingredients:

3 large organic sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 ½ teaspoons, extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp organic cinnamon
1 can organic white beans, rinsed and drained (I like to use Canellini beans but navy or butter work well too)
water, if necessary to adjust consistency

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Toss potatoes with olive oil and bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing with a spatula halfway through to encourage even browning. Potatoes should be fork tender when they are ready.

3. Allow potatoes and onions to cool slightly before tossing into a food processor along with beans, cinnamon, salt, pepper and water (if needed). Puree until desired consistency is reached. Serve chilled or warm as a baby puree or with pita chips as an awesome party dip.

Enjoy!

TIP: Swap the sweet potato for butternut squash.

TIP: Roast 1 clove of garlic alongside the potatoes and onions for an extra layer of flavor.

Christina Stanley-Salerno is a mama, recipe developer, food stylist, photographer and blogger atTakeBackYourTable.com. She loves cooking for and with her family. Life is hectic, but Christina is passionate about mealtime because she believes that family meals are the glue that holds everyone together. Creating simple, quick and healthy meals is her specialty and her trick to keeping the family meal a reality, even on busy weeknights.

Follow her on Twitter @TakeBackTables


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