How time flies! It seems like only yesterday that our baby boy was born. Soon he’ll be four months old already. He’s sitting up, talking baby talk, smiling, giggling and slowly beginning to get sick of the same old bottles of milk. I can’t blame him. I’d get pretty sick of drinking the same thing every day too. It’s the ultimate in “familiarity breeds contempt”, but it means that he is now ready for different drinks and foods, tastes and textures.
In the interests of both health and frugality I favour home made baby food: I like knowing exactly what goes into what my son eats, and how it’s made. What better way to ensure that I know both than by making it myself? The added advantage: it’s a lot cheaper than buying the bottled or packaged stuff from the supermarket.
Home cooking also allows me to guide the development of my little boy’s palate. I can subtly lead him towards more varied an increasingly complex tastes, which will make it easier for him to adapt to the many different types of cuisine he’ll likely be exposed to over the course of his life. Not only eating these home cooked foods, but also seeing them be prepared has another benefit: there’s a good chance it will create an active enjoyment of so many fabulous flavours as well as generate an active interest in food preparation. This, in turn, may make it more likely that he’ll be leading a healthy lifestyle at least where it comes to food intake. And a healthy mentality towards food intake tends to result in a healthy approach to life in general, but that’s for another time.
My son’s first foray into actual food will be carrot-pumpkin mash. Carrots are relatively easily palatable where taste is concerned, and the pumpkin lends a subtle and slight sweetness to this mash. Add to this the fact that both vegetables lend themselves perfectly to pureeing once well cooked and we have the perfect introduction to “real food”.
You’ve probably guessed it: the rest of this post will be a how-to.
I cooked 500 grams of raw carrots and 400 grams of cubed raw pumpkin flesh until soft – the carrots need to cook slightly longer than the pumpkin, so I started cooking the carrots first, then after about 3 minutes I added the pumpkin.
After approximately 18 minutes they will be cooked well enough that pureeing becomes a piece of (carrot?) cake. Simply drain the vegetables and begin pureeing in small portions. (I have a very small hand blender, but if you have a big one just dump as much vegetable in there as your blender can handle.)
Of course, if you cook in these quantities, you’ll have a lot of carrot-pumpkin mash. And here is the great part: this stuff is perfect for freezing in small portions. I transferred my mash into a silicone tray which, coincidentally, makes little pumpkin shapes and then placed the whole tray in the freezer. (A normal ice cube tray will do just as well, or a mini-muffin tray.)
After a few hours you have ideal baby-sized portions of healthy, home made frozen mash ready to defrost for eating or drinking. For the moment we are still make this stuff for use in a bottle, which is actually a pretty speedy process: simply add freshly boiled water to defrost and water down each cube.
I’ll be mashing a lot more over the next few months, but whatever gets mashed and/or pureed it’s all pretty much the same process, just different ingredients – and little to no boiling required for fruit mashes.
Honestly, I had forgotten how much fun it can be to make mini dishes. Yay, I get to play kitchens again!