Now that Stacie has had her little one, I am sure we will be posting more baby food recipes. To get us started here is a post from my friend Abby, who is the Executive Director at Urban Sprouts, a neat little non-profit that builds school gardens in San Francisco’s under-served neighborhoods. Abby had her daughter Pepa last year and there is no doubt in my mind that her little one is going to be fed some of the best food around. I hope it inspires you to make your own baby food and you find her tips helpful.
Spiced-Up Orange Baby Foods by Abby Jaramillo
I want to teach my 9-month old, Pepa, to eat fresh, healthy and delicious foods all her life. In order to achieve that, I give her colorful and flavorful foods, adding an herb or two or spices to fruits and vegetables that I get in my CSA box.
In the mom-baby relationship it is never really possible to separate food, comfort, and nourishment. Pepa is a champion breast-feeder with the chubby, muscular cheeks to prove it. Maybe she really loves to eat, or maybe it’s the comfort of being so close. She started day care this week, and is not thrilled about bottle-feeding. At least, I can send her with homemade baby food, that smells and tastes of home.
The first thing about making baby food: it is EASY. Really. I fit in my baby food tasks while I’m already at the stove making dinner. My little cubes are in the freezer in no time. I’m not even tempted by those pale-colored jars in the supermarket.
Butternut Squash Baby Food with Curry Powder, Allspice and Nutmeg
Makes 12 oz of baby food.
2 cups butternut squash (or other winter squash) pulp
¼ tsp curry powder (or less)
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup water or broth
1. I like to bake the squash a day in advance in order to break up the tasks and make it go faster. Cut the squash into quarters and lay them skin side up on a baking tray with ¼ inch of water. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour (45 minutes for smaller squash).
2. The next day, or when the squash has cooled, scoop out the pulp and save.
3. In a blender or food mill, combine all the ingredients. For the spices I use less than ¼ teaspoon, really just a pinch. Add more or less water or broth for thicker or runnier food. I used lamb broth tonight that I bought at Avedano’s in Bernal Heights and it is delicious! Take care not to use a broth with extra salt added.
4. Mill or puree the mixture until it is smooth. Don’t forget to taste it!
I prefer my food mill to my blender because I can cook the food with the peel still on, thus retaining more nutrients. The food mill removes the pulp from the peel. (Plus, Pepa hates the blender noise and I hate to clean it.) This time however, I did use the blender and turned the rest of the butternut squash into soup for the grown-ups.
4. Spoon the puree into ice cube trays or the nifty one-ounce plastic cubes that I bought at Natural Resources. Close them up and pop in the freezer. I like to save about 2 ounces in the refrigerator to feed Pepa for the next two days.
5. Over the next few days, I just put some hot water in a bowl and stick all the little plastic cubes in there. After a few minutes I can easily remove each frozen cube of food from it’s container and put them all in a Ziploc bag, label it with the date and ingredients, and store it in the freezer. That way I have dinner ready for whenever we need it.
6. To defrost the cubes, I create a double boiler with two small pots. It only takes about 3 minutes. Microwaving baby food is not recommended.
Here are some more ideas for other orange-colored baby foods, full of carotenoids and vitamin A, and in season during our California winter:
Apple & Yams with Allspice
Sweet Potatoes with Ginger
Carrots & Potatoes with Cumin
To make each of these, I chop the vegetables into big chunks and cook them covered in a small amount of water (peel first if using a blender or food processor to puree). When they are soft, I run them through the food mill, add the spices, and freeze in my plastic cubes.
Getting more of the food into baby’s mouth than everywhere else is the biggest challenge!