Simply Honest: Baby Food

So! Let's talk baby food...

At Chloe's 4 month check-up she got the go ahead to start transitioning to solids!  Now I know that this can sometimes be a controversial issue.  Some parents and doctors say it's better to wait until baby is 6 months to prevent food allergies etc, while other doctors and studies say the exact opposite.  There are a few reasons for why we felt Chloe was ready to have her first bite of food...  for starters she would stare (and I mean STARE) at our food when we would eat.  Second... there were even times when she would open her mouth thinking she would get some.  And third... she was still breastfeeding practically every hour and a half eating tons and was still as skinny as a rail (lucky girl is blessed with a fast metabolism and is SO active).

Anyways... we happened to be having a Hawaiian food dinner for my Nana's birthday and we were in charge of bringing the poi & chicken long rice.  For those of you who don't know... poi is made from the corm of the kalo plant.  Poi has been proven to be hypoallergenic and tends to be easier for baby to digest than rice cereal (which nowadays isn't always recommended as a first food because it can actually be hard for a baby to digest, especially if the baby is exclusively breastfed).  Since we had it on hand... we decided that Chloe could have a taste of poi for lunch.

Needless to say... she LOVED it!  She kept going back for more. There were a few times when she actually grabbed the spoon from Thomas and tried to shove it in her own mouth! I swear she's growing up too fast...

Part of our Simply Honest. Simply Real. promise to each other is that we would always try to give Chloe the best that we could.  This is especially important when it comes to what we are feeding her.  We try to breastfeed her as much as we can, but to be honest... there were times when it was easier to bottle feed her.  Now that Chloe and I have gotten used to breastfeeding we almost always breastfeed her.  The formula we gave her was the Similar Advance: Organic Baby Formula.  Luckily, it agreed with her tummy so we didn't have to go searching for an alternative.  We knew that once she could start eating solids, we would try our best to make Chloe's food for her from scratch with the freshest and best ingredients.

Before I was pregnant with Chloe, I had bought a Ninja Blender.  This blender is ah-MAZING... Since Thomas and I made our Simply Honest. Simply Real. promise... we've been trying to make it a point to go to a farmer's market that is held at our mall every Saturday morning.  What could be better for our bodies than food that was grown locally (and for the most part organic)!  So far Chloe has tried butternut squash (made from pre-cubed organic squash from the store), broccoli, carrots, and bananas.

Top: Carrots, Bottom left: bananas, Bottom right: butternut squash.

It really isn't that hard to make baby food!  In fact, if you don't know how to cook maybe making baby food is the perfect way to learn!  When babies are first exploring the world of food, less is more.  The easiest food we've made so far (and honestly one of Chloe's favorites) is mashed bananas!  All you have to do is peel the bananas dump em in a bowl and mash em up!  We used a wooden spoon because we found the spoon would help break the bananas up and also did a good job mashing them without sending mashed bananas over the rim of the bowl.  Chloe is a pretty good eater so she can eat one good decent sized banana for breakfast.

For most vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, squash, potatoes etc., you can steam them!  I've seen special containers that are specifically meant for steaming food in the microwave at Ross and other various stores.  But for us, we like to make her food in bulk for the week so we wanted to use something that we could put on the stove.  We found this metal steaming basket for less than $10 at Target and the beauty of it is that it will fit into pretty much any pot that you have.  Like I said, we use our Ninja blender to puree her food, but you can also use a food processor, or even a fork or potato masher.  A tip, though, if you are going to be mashing it by hand... do it in smaller batches (especially if baby is first starting out on solids) so that you can be sure to get a good mash on everything.  It tends to get messier and chunkier if you do it by hand in big batches.

Now that you have all the tools you need let's get cooking!

Some of the GORGEOUS carrots we found at our farmer's market!
First off... you ALWAYS want to properly clean your fruits and veges, this goes for organic produce as well!  Especially if your food isn't organic you want to wash off any chemicals and bacteria that may still be on your food (did you know some super markets put wax on their apples to make them look shinier... yuck!)  You can buy a produce wash from the super market or you can make your own by creating a 1:4 vinegar-to-water solution and leaving it in a squirt bottle by your sink.  Liberally give all your produce a spritz and then rinse the solution off... for leafy vegetables soak them for about a minute or so in the solution making sure to allow the solution to get in between the leaves before rinsing them.

After cleaning your produce you need to peel and chop them as necessary (this is also a good time to get your steamer going: I put about an inch to two inches of water in the bottom of a pot, place the steamer inside and cover the pot... I leave the stove on about medium).  Since you're just steaming the vegetables and pureeing them you can cut them into small, even pieces.  The smaller the faster they will cook but remember to try and cut all the pieces around the same size so that they all take the same amount of time to cook.  I cut my carrots into about half in pieces.

 Once the water is boiling I dump in about 1 and a half cups to 2 cups of carrots in and cover the pot and leave it.  Depending on how big you cut your carrots and how much you dump in the pot, it'll take 5-10 minutes for the carrots to be ready.  I normally grab a steak knife and poke a bunch of carrots... if the knife can easily go through majority of the carrots, they're done!  You want to make sure the veges are soft... if not the puree will be chunkier.

Steam veges, steam!
I take the veges out and immediately put them in my blender and to chill out while I steam the rest of my veges.  When you are done cooking everything make sure you save the cooking liquid because you'll probably have to add some to get everything moving in the blender.  We leave the puree a little on the thicker side because sometimes we mix other foods/breastmilk/whole grain infant cereal to her food.

Depending on how much your batch made and how much your baby eats you can store baby's food in the refrigerator or freezer.  We make enough for the week so we've been storing ours in the fridge and we just take out about half a cup to a little more than a cup when Chloe is ready to eat.  If you made more than baby will eat in about a week... put baby's food in an airtight container and be sure to label and date it before storing it in the freezer.

Carrots for days!
And voila! You just made your own baby food!  We had maybe a little more than 5 pounds of carrots and it made enough food to last Chloe a week (she's a VERY good eater...).  We've also been mashing bananas up for her a few mornings a week just to keep things different.  Like I said before... making baby food is a great way to get into cooking.  Your baby won't judge you and their food starts off bland anyways.  In a month or so we're going to start seasoning Chloe's food with different spices like garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg etc... The beauty about making your own food for baby is that they will learn to eat what you eat.  When you're comfortable with adding seasonings to your baby's food start adding a little at a time... I'm sure your little babe will appreciate it!  Many Asian cultures include all the spices that they use in everyday cooking when they prepare their baby's food.  These include spices such as curry, cardamom, even chili peppers!

What's important is to have fun with what you make for baby!  Thomas and I love making food for Chloe and seeing her reaction as she tastes it for the first time.

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