Friday, March 8, 2013

The Experts Weigh In: Foodie Baby In The Making

My Foodie Baby

Of all the gifts I received before my son was born, my absolute favorite was the baby food maker. I was already someone who knew I wanted to make homemade baby food, and with the baby food maker now in my possession, I couldn't wait for the time to come when he was ready to start eating solid foods so I could begin my baby food making journey! I also had this gut feeling that my little one was a "foodie baby" in the making. Boy, was I right! He sure does love to eat! I'm sure most people think that making your own baby food is a daunting and time-consuming task. But for my foodie baby and me, it has been a fun and tasty experience that does not take much time at all!

I am the mother of the sweetest 8-month-old foodie baby boy. Lucky for him, I am passionate about health and wellness and love to cook and eat good food. When I was pregnant, I learned that a young child's palate is greatly influenced by the food he or she eats from birth to age 3. This knowledge has greatly influenced the way I have fed my little one thus far. I have also chosen to breastfeed, which for us has been a great experience and has helped shape my boy's palate, since the taste of foods I ingest transfers to the milk. My little one started showing signs at 5 months old that he was ready to start his solid food journey, so I very excitedly got my baby food maker out of the box and set it up. I couldn't wait to use it! In only 3 months, my happy little eater has sampled a wide variety of foods - from avocados and homemade brown rice cereal to mangoes and millet. Mealtime is always one of our daily highlights!

People always ask me how much time it takes to make our homemade baby food. For me, I spend 30 minutes to 1 hour over the weekend making baby food for the week while my boy either naps or plays with his toys on the kitchen floor. I use the BeaBa BabyCook baby food maker. So far, I have really enjoyed this baby food maker. It's so easy to use (and clean!), and I would highly recommend this product. But don't worry! You can get the same results with a steamer (to steam/cook the food) and a food processor or blender (to puree it).

I make all of the baby food fresh, and then I portion it out and freeze it for the week. I have so much fun making the food, and I really look forward to this time each week. Here are the simple steps I follow to make our baby food:

1. Choose fresh produce of your choice.

2. Wash, peel (if needed) and cut up produce.

3. Cook/Steam produce in baby food maker, if necessary.

4. Puree in baby food maker.

5. Portion out baby food.

6. Put ice cube tray(s) in the freezer overnight.

7. Remove frozen baby cubes and store in a freezer-safe Ziplock bag in the freezer (food cubes last for about
 1-2 months in the freezer). 
*Tip: I write the type of food that's in each freezer bag and the date of freezing on a piece of masking tape and place it on the bag. That way, I can remove the tape, wash and 
reuse the freezer bags once they are empty.

8. Defrost and let your foodie baby enjoy!

Now, some of you might still be thinking that it seems so much easier to simply buy pre-made jars of baby food for the week while you're at the grocery store doing your other shopping. Yes, there's no doubt that it's very convenient to do just that; however, for me, I get a lot of joy out of making my son's food. I feel strongly that the benefits of making my own fresh, organic and seasonal baby food far outweigh the convenience of buying jarred baby food (even the organic kind). For one, the taste is so much better if you make your own. Yes, I have tasted jarred baby food, and it does not even compare to the flavor and freshness of homemade baby food. I buy organic produce that's in season to maximize the taste and freshness of our food. I also get to choose what other ingredients are put into the food. I don't add any salt or sugar, but instead, I opt for herbs and spices - something you would definitely not see in jarred baby food.

My joyful eater!
Also, I have the option to puree the baby food with breast milk (or formula if you are using it), instead of water. This enhances the flavor and nutrition even more! Secondly, there is so much more variety for my little one's palate since I am making his food fresh. You'll notice there are only so many fruit and veggie choices in the grocery store aisle, especially for stage 1 eaters. For my little one, I simply choose whatever is in season and looks vibrant when I'm at the farmer's market. The choices are endless! Lastly, making my own baby food has been very cost effective. Regular baby food ranges anywhere from $0.50-$1.00 per jar, depending on the brand. For that price, I can buy organic produce which creates much more than one jar full of food. 

For my family, making our own baby food has really been the best choice! It's been rewarding and enjoyable for us all, and I'm so thankful I can share the sensory joy of eating with my foodie baby every day. 

Happy eating to you all!

**I have found two resources to be very helpful on my baby food making journey. Both of these resources include recipes, food charts and sample menus. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.
1. Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron

Therie Smith lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and foodie baby. Therie (pronounced 'Terry') was named after the empress of Austria, Maria Theresia (so chic!), but don't be fooled, Therie likes to let her hair down every once in awhile with a good bout of 'kitchen dancing' (imagine full body spasms and 'Elaine kicks' while she busts a move to her favorite tune). Therie's a happy lady, especially because in addition to owning her own elementary tutoring company and teaching yoga, she has the BEST job in the world - being a mom. Oh...and if Therie was stranded on a desert island and had to eat the same meal for the rest of her life (silly question, I know, I know), she'd opt for a bowl of her homemade turkey spaghetti, followed by a delicious scoop of homemade cookies and cream ice cream (umm... yum). I think the most important question here is... when can I come over, Therie? Check out Therie's blog The Smith Family Is Growing to keep up with her foodie baby!

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