Posts Tagged ‘ baby food ’

"Zucchini Bread" for Babes

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Zucchini-Carrot Puree

Best for Babies 6+ Months Old

I couldn’t stop thinking about zucchini bread yesterday morning. It was a freezing March day, definitely not peak zucchini season in the northeast, but my craving for the dense, rich, raisin-studded goodness came from a wave of nostalgia. I had been thinking about Mason’s first birthday party, then about the day Mason was born (August 19). It was blisteringly hot outside and I was sitting in the waiting room of Beth Israel, about to have a C-Section, and all I could think about was food. I wanted my mother-in-law’s zucchini bread and a giant apple-cherry smoothie, and I wished and wished for it all to materialize. Of course my doctor wouldn’t let me eat or drink a thing and I couldn’t manage more than a few ice chips post surgery, so my fantasy never came to fruition.

I considered baking a loaf. We had some organic zucchini in the fridge and I could run to the store for everything else. Mason would probably have appreciated the outing. We had been up for hours and he was definitely over his Exersaucer, books, and everything else I presented as entertainment. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I had been craving zucchini bread that August day because Mason had an affinity for it too. If he liked the stuff as a fetus perhaps he would enjoy it now, even if it wasn’t tucked inside a sweet, cake-like bread. Perhaps zucchini could be a green veggie puree that Mason would love, maybe even crave.

Inspired, I ditched all thoughts of bread baking and got to work.

Zucchini — a rich source of folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C — is so mild that I decided to combine it with something more flavorful. Carrots, a powerhouse veggie of vitamins, minerals, and eyesight boosting beta carotene, were a great match. I started by washing and peeling the zucchini — the skins get rubbery when cooked, an unappetizing choking hazard, in my opinion. I diced, cooked, and pureed the stuff. It blended up lime-colored, mild and delicious. Then I stirred in a jar (to avoid excessive nitrates) of Earth’s Best carrots. Together, the veggies had a gentle carrot flavor, very simple and straightforward. The color was like orange crayon, not the fiery orange of carrots pureed straight. I was still hiding the green with a yellow veggie foil, but the puree was vitamin rich and yummy, success nonetheless. It reminded me of zucchini bread, but this one was for babes.

I made this new puree just in time for Mason’s Sunday lunch, and blessedly he gobbled it up. I hope your babe enjoys it too. Let me know — and please share your fun zucchini ideas!

Zucchini-Carrot Puree:

Ingredients

2 organic zucchini
1 4-ounce jar organic carrot baby food (I like Earth’s Best)
Pre-mixed formula or Greek yogurt

Directions

1. Peel the zucchini, dice, and cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Reserve cooking liquid.
2. Rinse zucchini with cold water to stop cooking. (This will also help retain bright green color.)
3. Blend until you reach desired consistency, very smooth and thin, akin to Stage 2 purees.
4. Combine zucchini puree and jar of carrots until well mixed.

Makes about 10 ounces of puree.

*Appropriate for babies 6 months

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The Trials of Green Veggies

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Best for Babies 6+ Months Old

Green.  It’s lush and beautiful, the color of spring. It symbolizes life, rebirth. Green is also the   color of Mason’s favorite tummy time toy, his favorite playmate (Scout), and his favorite “monster” (dinosaurs). You see, Mason loves green — except when I put it on his plate.

True, his first encounter with green food, avocado, was fun.  The superfruit made him giggle. It was squishy and fun to play with, daddy smeared it on Mason’s fingers and let Mason lick it off. But since that glorious first taste of avocado, Mason’s journey with green food has been rough.

After avocado we tried green beans. I went with organic-frozen since fresh can blend up grainy, and I was so excited to give Mason that first spoonful of goodness, delightfully rich in vitamin A and fiber. It was the perfect first veggie, or so I thought. Mason took a bite and looked bewildered. I gave him a second taste and he looked like he might throw up. I tried once more and he screamed. And screamed. And screamed. The next day I mixed the beans with sweet potato, one of his favorites. He ate a few bites but soon figured out my ruse. And that was that for the beans.

Not about to give up on green, I revisited avocado but mixed it with banana, a total debacle. Strike two.

We moved on to peas. Mason liked them OK enough, especially if I mixed them with squash or sweet potato, heavy on the yellow stuff. But I wanted him to eat spoonful after spoonful of the stuff straight — no yellow veggie foil required. I searched for inspiration and found a recipe for Minty Peas.  The blend was bright and fresh, ever so slightly sweeter than peas alone. Score! Mason finally ate his peas (almost) straight without a grimace, gag, or scream.

I’d like to make Mason’s next new food a green veggie. I’m determined for him to love his green veggies as much as we do. I’ve thought about mixing green beans with Greek yogurt and mint to sweeten the deal a bit. Or perhaps I’ll experiment with some asparagus (gross pee smell be damned). But perhaps you have an even better idea, and I’d love it hear it. How do you get your babe to eat (and enjoy) his/her green veggies?

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1 Protein + 2 Veggies + 1 Fruit = 4 Meals

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Best for Babies 6+ Months Old

As a food editor I spend hours studying current food trends — which foods are the new superstars, how people are eating today vs. yesterday, and so on. Of course, not every trend is surprising. We all know that people are cutting back on what they spend these days so everyone is looking for creative, fun ways to cook inventive, delicious meals for less. Tonight I applied that same principle to what I was cooking for Mason. How could I take just a few organic ingredients and come up with several different yummy purees that were simple and nutritious?

For starters, I surveyed what we had on hand. The three organic sweet potatoes on the counter looked good. We had four organic Gala apples fresh from the, um, grocery store. Chicken was already thawed in the fridge so that was in. A solid, six-month-old-friendly protein. A hearty winter veggie. And a versatile fruit. I was set.

The first puree that I made was a no-brainer –  I’ve made it before, and it’s super easy:  Chicken and Sweet Potatoes.

Chicken-Sweet Potato-Apple Puree

Next I thought about the combination of food my hubby and I like to eat.  We like texture, contrasting flavors, fresh seasonal fruits and veggies. So I decided to add a little apple to the mix to create Chicken-Sweet Potato-Apple Puree. When combined, the apple added sweetness to the mix, while the sweet potato was smooth and mellow. And the chicken fit right in. Mason hasn’t tried this little number yet, but I assume he’ll like it. After all, he likes the three ingredients alone.
Sweet Potatoes and Apple Puree

From there I moved on to classic Sweet Potatoes and Apple. I wanted a blend that would be a  lovely balance of fruit and veggie. It would end my daily debate about whether Mason was getting an equal balance of the two, and there’s something so scrumptious about sweet potatoes topped with warmly spiced fall fruit. Mason’s variation wasn’t spiced, but it was equally good. I loved that it blended into a rich orange color– I used a bit more sweet potato than apple simply because that’s what I had on hand. Normally I’d do an equal balance of the two. I loved that the mixture was smooth and easy, with just a hint of sweetness. I loved that it was packed with beta carotene, vitamin C, and lots of other good stuff.

Chicken and Carrots

Three purees down but with some chicken left, I pulled out a couple of jars of carrot from the cupboard (remember, carrots have a high nitrate content so you shouldn’t make them on your own) and mixed up a Chicken and Carrot blend. Plain, straightforward,  nutritious. Mason won’t complain. He enjoys this combo, although it certainly doesn’t have the pizazz that the Chicken-Sweet Potato-Apple Puree does.

Not a bad night of cooking — and I ended up with 25 servings of baby food for about $12, including the carrots. How do you make the most of your kitchen staples when making your babe his/her food?

The recipes:

Chicken-Sweet Potato-Apple Puree

1/3 cup boiled, shredded chicken
1/2 cup cooked, diced apple
1/2 cup cooked, diced sweet potato
Water

1. Poach chicken for about 35 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Shred a cup’s worth, and set aside.
2. Steam 1-2 diced apples, depending on size, for about 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside 1/2 cup.
3. Steam a sweet potato for about 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside 1/2 cup.
4. Combine all three ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add cooking liquid or water until you reach your desired consistency. (Think smooth but without being watery.) Freeze extras for up to three months.

Sweet-Potato Apple Puree

1 sweet potato
1 apple

1. Dice apple, steam for about 15 minutes
2. Dice sweet potato, steam for about 15 minutes
3. Combine the two in a food processor or blender. Add cooking liquid or water. Blend until smooth. Freeze extras for up to three months.

Chicken and Carrots

2 chicken breasts
6 oz jarred baby carrots

1. Poach chicken for about 35 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Shred.
2. Combine chicken and 6 oz of carrots in a food processor or blender. Add cooking liquid or water and blend until your desired consistency. (Think pretty smooth without being watery.) Freeze extras for up to three months.

*Appropriate for 6 months and older

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Going Commercial

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Mason flew on a plane for the eighth time this past weekend. Fortunately for us, the kid loves to travel. He gets excited when we hop into the cab to go from our apartment to the airport. The characters we encounter once we’re there delight him. He flirts with the flight attendants, and he manages to charm even the most disgruntled seat mate. Best of all, he generally falls asleep for the better portion of the trip so we haven’t had to face our fears of whether we can soothe him if he starts screaming inconsolably 30,000-feet in the air (yet) — I mean, who wants to be those people on the plane?!

Our trip this past weekend meant that we had to go commercial with our baby food.  I doubted I could carry enough food to last us the weekend, and I’m not so sure it would made it through airport security. So I decided to go with Earth’s Best. After all, it’s the organic brand we use for our carrots (a veggie that you can’t make for baby yourself due to its high level of nitrates), and Mason enjoys it very much. Our picks: chicken and sweet potatoes, squash and apples, banana, apple, and the same brand of baby oatmeal we use at home (Gerber).

Luckily, Mason loved it all.

True, a little piece of me felt crushed. I feel as passionate about giving Mason homemade food as some mothers feel about breast feeding. (I realize my feelings are totally illogical, but still.) So it felt like defeat to have to go the store-bought route. Sort of like I was cheating, taking the easy way out. But while I can’t deny the little thrill that I felt when I tasted the store-bought sweet potato-chicken blend and concluded that it wasn’t quite as yummy as my homemade variation (although it was very close), the pleasure that I felt from watching Mason enjoy another meal was far greater.

I also experienced his newly discovered passion for yogurt. The Yobaby that I had planned on giving him as his first yogurt was at home in our fridge in New York, so I mixed Greek yogurt with a generous helping of Earth’s Best apples. Totally delish! It was definitely a close second to Mason’s beloved oatmeal for breakfast — he was giddy between bites. Isn’t it amazing how babies have the ability to relish even the smallest things and make them feel exciting to us again?

By the end of the weekend, I realized I had learned something. Instead of staying up until midnight to make all of Mason’s food, or scrambling to get it all done before work, I should cut myself some slack. (Those parenting books are right! Perfectionism really doesn’t have a place in parenting!) The world won’t end if there’s a meal now and again where he eats commercially prepared baby food instead of homemade. Instead, I’ll focus on enjoying Mason’s reaction to the food rather than whether I was the one who made it.

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Tags: , | Categories: Chicken, Fruits, six+ months, Veggies

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Easy Pear-Banana Puree

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Best for Babies 6+ Months Old

I was running late this morning.  Mornings now come with a wrinkle or two, things happen that I can’t control. I’m a working mom of a six month old, after all. I finally got out the door only to discover it was pouring rain and my umbrella was broken. I raced to the subway station and reached the platform just as the train was leaving the station (after climbing four staircases to get there). Then my train stalled one stop before my office. At least I had my coffee — and miraculously I made it to the office just in time for the  early morning conference call I was hosting.

And it only got better from there.

Lunchtime came and my nanny texted me with stellar news: The Minty Peas were a success. Mason gobbled them up this afternoon, along with a healthy helping of Sweet Potato-Chicken Puree. Home run! Victory! Score one for Mom!

Now on to our next food adventure: Pear-Banana Puree.

And that takes us back to this morning, before it became clear my commute would be…harried. Mason and I got up at 6 and cuddled. I hugged my baby boy, kissed his cheeks, celebrated being home with him again. We played as I simultaneously got ready for work and whipped up 14 ounces of pear-banana puree.

This magical mix of fruit was simple to make.  The organic fruits were fresh and delicious. The pear was juicy and sweet. The banana was just ripe and luscious. Together this wholesome fruit made a slightly chunky golden puree that was subtly sweet and well balanced. It will be a delish way to add new flavors to Mason’s beloved morning oatmeal. I can hardly wait to see Mason’s reaction when he has his first taste — stay tuned!

Ingredients:

1 organic pear*
1 organic banana*

Directions:

1. Peel and slice pear into small chunks. Steam until soft (about 15 minutes). Reserve steaming liquid.
2. Puree pear with sliced banana. Add liquid to get desired consistency.

To add oatmeal, prepare baby oatmeal from a box. Stir in two ounces of the fruit mixture before serving.

*I’m a working mama so I always double or triple my recipes and freeze extras. This morning, I used two pears and two bananas to get 14 ounces.

Appropriate for 6  months and up

What are your favorite fruit combos for baby these days?

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