Thursday, July 14, 2011

Your Babies like Spinach?

Your babies like spinach?  I've heard that more than once.  And actually, they don't just LIKE spinach, they LOVE it!  I think spinach is a prime example of my philosophy around homemade baby food.  1.  It doesn't have to be difficult.  2. It doesn't have to take a long time, and 3. It tastes better than jars.  At least it should!  Most jarred baby food is a smooth puree of one of a very select few veggies with no seasoning or other flavors added.  If I had to eat plain smooth spinach puree I wouldn't like it, and I doubt the baby would!

If you are waiting until 6 months to introduce solids to your baby like most pediatrician's recommend, then your baby is ready for a little flavor!  You can add cinnamon or nutmeg to sweet potatoes, mint to green beans (another very popular food for us), or garlic to spinach!  Baby is bound to love it because it tastes good.

Making homemade baby food is quite simple.  All you really need are items you most likely already have in your kitchen. A food processor, steamer basket of some sort,  a baking sheet... no magical baby tools required.  For storage I did buy these: Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food and Breast Milk Trays  I really like them because they have a lid unlike most regular ice-cube trays.  I pour my purees into them, pop them into the freezer and leave them overnight.  To keep from buying more than one set of them I pop out the cubes the next day and put them into a freezer storage bag with the name of the food and date printed on it, voila!

So, still concerned about this being hard or time consuming?  Most homemade baby food can be done in a flash.  Roast vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and squash with a little drizzle of olive oil in the oven at 400 F until soft, usually 15-20 minutes.  Broccoli and cauliflower are great roasted too!  Roasting gives veggies a sweeter, deeper flavor.  You can steam veggies too, of course.  Fruits like peaches or plums can be blanched in boiling water for just a minute so their peels slip off and they can be chopped and  put into the food processor.  Once your veggies and fruits are cooked add them to the processor with herbs like mint, basil, or parsley and pulse or puree them to whatever consistency your baby likes best.  Here's my twins' favorite recipe.

Creamy Spinach

1lb Spinach, washed and with the stems removed
2 Tbsp Olive oil, divided
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
whole milk yogurt for final preparation

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add garlic and cook one minute.  Add spinach leaves, with a bit of water on them from washing, toss in the oil and cover.  Cook about a minute then toss the leaves again and recover for another minute.  Uncover and cook until spinach is wilted, maybe another minute.  Add spinach to the food processor with lemon juice and remaining olive oil.  Pulse until chopped or turn on the machine and puree into desired consistency.  At this point I put the spinach in my cube trays reserving a portion or two for that day or the next.  When I'm ready to serve I just thaw and add a spoonful of yogurt and mix.  Try some yourself with a cracker, it's like a nice creamy spinach dip!  I think you and the baby will love it.  And did you notice the cooking time?  4 minutes!  Add another couple of minutes to process and freeze and you can seriously get this done in like 15 minutes.

Making your baby's food is so rewarding and I really think it is a huge first step in teaching your baby that healthy food can taste good.  My little ones will be dining on sweet potato pancakes this week due to an anti-spoon feeding rebellion going on over here....stay tuned.

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