Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Homemade Baby Food

With Ava's six-month birthday quickly approaching, we are about to embark on the solid food journey. I can tell that she is totally ready for this transition, but I have been waiting as long as possible because bottles are just so darn easy! While I am sad that this means Ava is growing up, it will also be a fun (and messy) new step.

As someone who loves to cook, I decided to attempt making Ava's baby food. And after Josh asked if I was going to have time to make her food since I am not a stay-at-home-mom, it made me even more determined to do so (even though breastfeeding may not have gone exactly as planned, I can sure as shit make my daughter some yummy, organic food!).

I like knowing exactly what is in her food, and as an added bonus, it is cheaper than buying it all. Once it is no longer 100 degrees outside, I am going to get even more granola by purchasing locally-sourced fruits and veggies at the Dallas Farmer's Market.

Before taking on this task, I polled my friends on Facebook regarding what tools they use for making baby food, and got lots of great advice. Ultimately, I decided to go with using a steamer basket and food processor in lieu of purchasing an expensive all-in-one baby food maker. This is primarily because I wanted the ability to make bigger batches...and I have also been wanting to buy the Calphalon steamer basket/pasta insert that goes with our pots anyway.

The thought of switching Ava to solid food is a bit daunting...not only because I have no idea what/how much to feed a baby, but also because of all the foods you are supposed to avoid until they are at least a year old. So I have been scouring the Internet, and found a few good resources, including Wholesome Baby Food and Weelicious.

I also really love this post on the styleberry blog. I bought both cookbooks that she recommends, and I especially love her suggestion of freezing baby food in these Tovolo ice cube trays before transferring them to Ziploc bags for long-term storage.

Since I will have to pack Ava's food for daycare every day, I also bought a couple different storage containers to send the frozen cubes in.

These glass containers are made by Wean Green.

And these are plastic OXO Tot Baby Blocks freezer containers.

 I am also super excited to try these Freshfoods Fill & Freeze Pops!!

For my first go at making baby food last weekend, I made carrots, apples, pears, and sweet potatoes. Luckily, all the recipes for basic fruit and vegetable purees are pretty simple.

Basically, you wash...

 peel if necessary (it is better to steam fruits like apples and pears in their skins to retain more nutrients)...

chop (and core if necessary) and steam (or bake)...

and puree (or mash once the baby is older).

When the baby is young and needs a very smooth puree, you can also push the pureed food through a mesh strainer with a spatula to make sure all pieces of peel, etc. are removed.

Then, you fill the trays with the puree (the blog I mentioned above has a great video tutorial) and freeze overnight.

The next day, you just pop them out and store in a Ziploc. (Please ignore the fact that the rest of these pictures are of sweet potatoes instead of carrots.)

I discovered that a pie pan makes for a perfect baby food cube receptacle as it keeps them from going all over the counter when you pop them out.

The one thing that I wish I had known before making these batches was how much of each fruit/veggie I needed to buy/cook in order to fill one Tovolo tray. Below is what I discovered for the carrots, apples, pears, and sweet potatoes. As I make more, I will add to this list for future reference.

Approximately Fills One Tovolo Tray (15 One-Ounce Cubes):
  • 8 apples
  • 20oz bag (frozen) butternut squash
  • 14 carrots
  • 1.5 cauliflower heads
  • 3 chicken breasts, chopped in small pieces, with broth (I cooked the chicken breasts in the crockpot with one cup of water, one chopped carrot, and one chopped celery stalk on low for 8 hours, and then mixed the broth in with the chicken pieces.)
  • 16oz bag (frozen) green beans
  • 5 mangos
  • 8 peaches
  • 32oz bag (frozen) peas
  • 7 pears
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 5 yellow squash

I had so much fun making it all...and seeing the plethora of homemade baby food in our freezer makes me so proud!

I also totally felt like Diane Keaton making all that applesauce in "Baby Boom" (please tell me I am not the only one who remembers this gem of an 80's movie). 

Let's hope Ava enjoys eating it all as much as I enjoyed making it.

Lots of messy-face baby pictures to come :).

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About Me

My name is Catherine, but most of my friends call me Cat. I was born and raised in Austin, went to TCU, and ended up in Dallas for law school (where Josh and I met). I decided that being an attorney was not my cup of tea and pursued a career in legal marketing instead. I am now a mother of two attempting to balance family with a full-time job, which is always an adventure. I love: my sweet babies, handsome husband, very large family, and fabulous friends; trying new restaurants; wine; TCU football; holidays; cooking; The Bar Method; pajamas; La Croix; reading; coffee; podcasts; Central Market; carbs; the beach; mani/pedis; Anthropologie; binge-worthy TV shows; trivia; French 75s; Pinterest; cheese boards; The Ticket; dancing; Sprinkles cupcakes; The Texas Rangers; fresh flowers; thunderstorms; naps; Tex-Mex; the Texas Hill Country; porch-sitting; ranch dressing; throwing parties; and my job. I hate: working-mom guilt; snakes; heights; waking up early; ignorant people; stomach bugs; paper cuts; green fruit; snoring; bad hair days; the sound of people eating (Misophonia); scary movies; bad drivers; pulpy OJ; trimming baby fingernails; and Miracle Whip. I think that about sums it up.


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