Monday, May 19, 2014

Make Your Own Paleo Baby Food

The title of this post makes me sound crunchier than I am.  I never intended to be a "make your own baby food" type of gal.  It seemed like such a precious thing to do that uber-controlling parents did. But, my assumptions have been debunked.

I am now a baby-food-making convert.  The reason is simple.  It's easier.

I have two little mouths to feed.  I want to give them organic, natural foods.  Purchasing the quantity of organic baby food that I would need to feed two babies for a whole week would cost a fortune, and I'd have to go to multiple stores to find it.  What I do is way cheaper and way easier and creates far less waste.  It all started innocently enough.  I hemmed and hawed over what their first food should be for weeks, finally settling on avocados.  Mushy, full of healthy fats and nutrients, hermetically sealed in their own packaging, it seemed perfect.  I didn't have to steam or puree anything- just mush with the back of a spoon et voila!

So, we started with avocados.  Laziness meant that we stuck with avocados for three weeks before trying anything else.  In this time the babies went from sort of tolerating it, to tolerating it moderately, to enjoying it!  By this time both they, and I, were ready to try something else.  At that point I had decided a couple new foods to try.  First was egg yolks.  I simply boil a few eggs for three or four minutes and after the yolk has cooled a bit they slurp it up.  Not much chewing is involved so it is a relatively painless process and a great way to guarantee a lot of nutrition in short order.  The babies have really enjoyed yolks and I like to take the extra time to make it for them on my days off.

Next up was sweet potatoes.  I buy a big bag of organic sweet potatoes and steam about half of them. 35 minutes in the steamer and they are ready to be peeled.  My handy stick blender makes mush of them in no time.  Add a little formula or water to thin out the consistency and you are good to go.  I store mine in little snack containers that hold probably four ounces or so.  I don't make enough to need to freeze it- generally we have been running out every four days or so.  When that happens I go back to my trusty avocados if I don't have time to make something else until the weekend.

After they had mastered the consistency of the sweet potato I decided to let them try bananas.  This was their first fruit and naturally they quite like the sweeter taste!  Again, no steaming or pureeing necessary- just some mushing with a spoon and you're good to go.

But I wanted another veggie and something that I could be sure would be palatable.  I am sure there are plenty of moms out there pureeing kale and spinach for their babies but it is more important to me to make them food I know they are going to like and enjoy- and instill in them a healthy desire and appetite for real food, rather than force something down their throats.  So I decided on organic carrots. Do you know how much two pounds of organic carrots costs?  $1.89.  Do you know how much one pouch of organic carrots costs at Target?  $1.63.  You do the math.  All two pounds of it steamed in about 20 minutes, and only took a few minutes more to puree, and now I have six containers of carrots in the fridge, meals for the week!

The last food we have introduced thus far is organic applesauce.  I just got a big jar of it and have been adding it to different foods here and there.  I like how watery it is and its amazing ability to make practically anything palatable.  Applesauce was really the sole sweetener I used for Sara until she was two years old!  I added it to oatmeal, plain yogurt, even cottage cheese, rather than use sugar or another sweetener.  It's versatile, healthy, and cheap!  Can't complain about that!

We will probably work on carrots for a couple weeks and then add in something else.  The reality is that I will not be steaming and pureeing multiple vegetables at a time and doling them out into separate containers, or creating little custom combinations.  And frankly, I would rather move on to soft table foods sooner rather than later.  Poached chicken, soft scrambled eggs, some soft cauliflower, etc.  When there is one person feeding three people you tend to prefer not spoon feeding two of them, right?

Do you make your own baby food? Any suggestions for me?  I have to say, I approached this with complete and total nonchalance.  Not because I'm that cool, but because I devoted basically zero thought to it.  I was terrified what my grocery bill would be buying jarred baby food and frankly, did not have a high opinion of it from my experiences feeding sari.  Expensive, crappy tasting, and makes tons of garbage.  Um, no thanks?  So I started with avocado and assumed I'd figure out the rest later.  What started out as me just wanting to give them organic baby food turned into me becoming a weirdo crunchy baby food maker.  And you know what?  I think I'll stick with it.

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