Here’s to New Mom’s! with Baby Puree Recipes


Approaching mother’s day I’ve been reflecting back on becoming a mother myself.  We all know how time flies and it seems like just yesterday I was feeding my kids their very first bites of food.  I’ve always loved being there for a first taste of something new.  Their first apple, strawberry, broccoli, fish, etc.  I still enjoy that.  But now it’s first escargot, starfruit, escarole, etc.  Sometimes I think being a new mom was easier than where I am today.  I’d take sloppy kisses and naps, any day over eye rolling and working school carline.  Although certainly while you are in the thick of it (diapers, no sleep, constant crying), you can’t imagine.  If only you had the sleep and awareness when they are babies, to appreciate every minute.

Right now I know lots of mom’s with babies.  Some are just starting motherhood while others have new babies to add to their families.  So here’s to new and experienced moms alike.  And to the new flavors and experiences we introduce them to.  Whether our kids are 6 months, 6 years, 26 years or 66 years.  We can always come up with firsts and new foodie adventures.  But be careful…it’s not always pretty.

Apple Puree (The Petit Appetit Cookbook, page 59)

Apples are a great first food because of their sweetness and versatility.  Besides being for baby, this puree can be used in all kinds of recipes.  Use it to sweeten baked goods, as a topping for pancakes, or even to dress up grilled meats.

Golden and Red Delicious as well as Fuji apples have the least amount of acid, and thus are the most tolerant for babies.  You may peel apples before or after cooking.  Cooking with skins on allows the apples to retain more nutrients.  Be sure to choose organic apples as they are number 1 on the Dirty Dozen list for pesticides.

6 medium (2-3 ounce) organic apples, washed, quartered and cored just before cooking

Steamer Method:

Place prepared apples in steamer basket set in a pot filled with a small amount (about 1 – 2 inches, but not to touch fruit) of lightly boiling water.  Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 10 – 12 minutes or until apples are tender.  Apples should pierce easily with a toothpick.  Set apples and cooking liquid aside to cool.

Scrape apples for skin and puree in a food processor with a steel blade.  Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid to puree to make smoother and adjust consistency.

Makes 16 – 18, one ounce baby servings.

TIP:  An apple a day…When baby is ready for more texture, chunks on steamed apples are good finger foods.  Also for teething baby, put steamed apple slices in the freezer for a soothing treat.

First Fish (The Petit Appetit Cookbook, page 98)

This is an easy way to prepare fish for your baby or toddler.  Because of the mild and “non-fishy” taste, Tilapia is a good introduction to seafood for a little one.  Fish can be thinned with reserved cooking broth or mix with plain yogurt or cottage cheese for a more creamy texture.

1 cup organic vegetable broth

2, (4 ounce) white fillets

Heat broth in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until simmering.  Add fish fillets.  Broth should not cover fish, but come up about halfway.  Simmer fish 3 to 4 minutes per side or until opaque.  Fish should flake easily with a fork.  Remove fish from pan and mash to desired consistency, or puree with some of the cooking liquid in a food processor.

TIP: No bones about it.  Be sure to check fish carefully for small bones before feeding to baby.  Fillets have fewer bones than steaks.






Petit Appetit Guest Blogs on Ginger Garner

Latley I’ve been helping some other sites with blogs and content.  I was very pleased to be part of a three week blog series with feeding babies on Ginger Garner’s site.  Ginger is  founder of Professional Yoga Therapy (PYT), the first education program for Complementary and Alternative Medicine practice in medical therapeutic yoga in the United States. Ginger has traveled across the US teaching yoga and Pilates as Complementary and Alternative Medicine, while also raising awareness about mothers’ rights and improving women’s health.  She also is a mother of three.  Her youngest James, is eating my apple puree above.


Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my daily life with school age kids, I forget about new babes coming into the world.  Then I see a cute photo or read a kind email or post about a mom feeding their baby for the first time, and I wish I was right back there.  If you’re looking for tips for feeding babies and a recipe for apple puree – a perfect first solid food, please see my guest posts here.




For Those Wondering….Glass Jar Find

I’ve received a few calls and email regarding the jar on the front cover of the Williams-Sonoma Cooking for Baby Cookbook.  First, let me tell you I did the recipes only for the book and did not write the text, nor take the photos.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to attend the photo shoot either so when people kept telling me they liked the baby food jar on the cover and where could they get one, I was baffled.

Recently while dining at a new restaurant in San Francisco, Bar Agricole, I saw a very close resemblance to the jar on the cover.  The waiter presented our check in the jar and I turned it over to see a strawberry and name “weck” on the bottom.  When I got home I googled weck and found this site.  So if you’re interested in canning or just getting neat little glass jars for storing small items or feeding babies, check them out.  (And please don’t call me about the jars on a Sunday night at 11 p.m. – really it happened)

On a more serious and confusing note, Williams-Sonoma sold the rights of this book (I had no say) to Fireside Publishing and they rereleased with a new cover.  However the recipes and text is exactly the same.  I know, I know.  Just do not buy both.


Let Them Make Messes

O.K. so easy for me to say.  My kids are no longer babies and I no longer clean up puree from he floor, the table, my shirt and the kids’ hair.  But babies and toddlers need to feed themselves and play with their food.  Honestly this is part of their development. 

Aren’t there always messes being a parent?  For me there’s now more non-food clean up such as mud (including occassional dog poop on shoes), dirt, paint, glitter, glue, etc.  Although we still make messes with colored sugars (making cookies), cherry pits (remember my pitting experiences) and spills (usually milk).  However looking back I’d take the first food messes any day. In fact some times I would strip my kids down to a diaper to eat something messy (my daughter and soup), so they could have fun and do it themselves.  Then it was bath or hose down time after, of course.

I have friends who think nothing of letting their children draw and paint at the  kitchen or even dining room table, but will not give their toddler a spoon and let them feed themself.  Why?  Isn’t this what hardwood and laminate floors are for?  Or how about a splat mat?  I’m not saying there shouldn’t be rules with food and drink.  I always like “Food stays in the kitchen or dining area and you eat it in a high or other safe chair”.  I didn’t grow up running all over the house with food and cups (sippy or otherwise).  Choose what works for you, but I’m asking you to try to indulge your child.  Why?  Because they… 

1. want control

2. are testing cause and effect

3. need to develop

4. are learning independence 

5. want you to react

6. are testing boundaries

7. think it’s fun

8. won’t get a date (or into preschool) with you hand feeding them

9. will gain positive eating eating habits

10. need help to gain confidence

Here’s a few of my messy faced babes back in the day.  When I was looking for photos I remembered it really was my daughter who liked mess with food (and anything).  My son was never big on getting messy.  Some kids don’t like the feeling of stuff (be it food, sand, whatever) on their hands.  He had his moments.  I remember with oatmeal (but can’t find the pic).  But here’s a few of my gal.

Wow! So this is puree.
My nose can eat it too!
look no sippy cup!
first b-day

Lead in Juice Boxes and Baby Foods

Here’s another reason to make your own juice and baby foods at home, and package in glass or stainless food and drink containers…

On June 9, 2010 the Environmental Law Foundation filed Notices of Violation of California Proposition 65 Toxics Right to Know law, alleging the toxic chemical lead was found in a variety of children’s and baby foods.  The specific food categories included apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears and peaches (includine baby food), and fruit cocktail. 

Read the entire store here.

Products are made by a large range of manufacturers, including:  Del Monte, Trader Joe’s, Kikkerland, Beech Nut, Gerber, Hanssen’s, S&W, Kroger, Santa Cruz, O Organics and others.  To see the entire list by the Environmental Law Foundation click here.


Spring Peas Please

I love peas.  Really, any peas….snap, spring, petit, snow.  There’s something about the shape and color that is very happy and reminds me of hot days as a kid.  Spring, also known as English peas have a pretty short season.  English peas are unlike snap peas in that you don’t eat the pod, just the sweet peas inside.  My kids love popping them open, then unzipping them to see how big and how many they got.  Actually when choosing spring peas, you want to stay away from those that are too fat and bulging as they’re full of starch and not as sweet as the smaller pods.

At the beginning of spring pea season I hit the farmer’s market and bought about 8 pounds from Iocopa Farms.  (Unfortunately we weren’t very lucky growing our own peas this year.  The vines are growing, but no peas.)  My kids and I shelled for days.  They really got into it.  My daughter eating them faster than we can shell them.  Really you should shell them quickly after buying and cook or eat them within a few days.  If cooking the English peas, figure that 1 pound will yield 1 cup of shelled peas.   

Besides eating them raw we also made pea puree, spring pea soup, orzo with peas and mint, and curry, herb peas.  The good thing about peas is you can buy them organic and frozen all year long.  This certainly cuts down the time to make a pea dish if you don’t have the time or the willing mini sous chefs to shell with you.  It also allows you to enjoy them year round – in or out of season.  We were able to grow the fresh cilantro and mint that I think pair so well with peas.

Here’s a few pea recipes if you’re heading to the farmer’s market or picking in your own garden now.  Or keep these recipes for the Fall, when you hit the frozen aisle and need a reminder of spring.  Oddly enough some kids like icey, frozen vegetables.  My son loved a bowl of frozen peas right out of the freezer when he was 3 and 4 years old.  I sometimes suggest frozen veggies to parents who say their kids won’t eat veggies.  Try them raw, cooked, and even frozen.  You never know…

Sweet Pea Puree (from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

Give peas a chance!   Many children’s first foray into green vegetables is peas, because of their sweet flavor.  Just be careful not to overcook.  They should be bright green, not drab and gray, like the jarred version.

 1 package (10 ounces) frozen organic peas, or 10 ounces shelled fresh peas

 Steamer Method:

Place frozen or fresh peas in steamer basket set in a pot filled with a small amount (about 1to 2 inches, but not to touch fruit) of lightly boiling water.  Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 2 to 3 minutes or until peas and tender and bright green.  Rinse peas in cold water to stop cooking.  Add tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid to puree to make smoother and adjust consistency.

Curry & Herb Peas (from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

 The cumin and curry makes this dish an aromatic, but not spicy for those just trying spices.  These peas make a great accompaniment to grilled fish and meats for all ages.   

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1/3 cup water

16 ounces fresh or 1 package (16 ounces) frozen, organic peas, thawed

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

 Heat butter in large saucepan over moderate heat.  When foam subsides, add garlic to pan and quickly sauté until light brown.  Stir in curry, cumin, water and peas and simmer until peas are tender and heated throughout, approximately 5 minutes.  Stir in cilantro, if desired.

 Mind your peas!  They will cook quickly.  If they are overcooked, they can become mushy, and lose their bright color and sweet flavor.


Oh Baby! with Asian Pear Puree

Don't call it baby food

I don’t like the words “baby food”.  It automatically conjures up bland, boring, stinky jarred food.  While commercial baby food has come a long way – there’s still great strides to be made.  I prefer to make food for people and babies just happen to be people who need a smoother creamier texture to begin their eating experience.  Thus purees.

Not having babies of my own, I don’t make purees as often as I used to.  I still do demonstrations for new parents, but lately with being focused on school aged snacks and lunches for my kids, I  forget how much purees come in handy.  Take for instance soup.  All great vegetable soups start with a homemade vegetable purees.  And fruit purees make wonderful butters on toast, and topping over ice cream and swirled into plain yogurt.

A friend of mine had her third child and he’s almost ready for solids.  This of course is exciting for me to hear.  So when we came to their house for the older siblings to play with my kids, my daughter (her taste testing the puree in photo above) and I made and brought a puree for the baby.  He may not be ready to eat this for a few weeks, so I froze the puree into cubes and popped them in a freezer safe container, so mom is ready when the time is right.  I chose asian pear because of a few things:

1. it’s in season

2. it’s mild and sweet

3. you can’t find it in a jar

4. it’s Chinese New Year

Here’s the recipe and steps of photos.

Asian Pear Puree (from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

Asian pears look more like an apple than a pear.  They are round and yellow with a brown speckled skin.  Inside they are sweet and juicy and very refreshing.

Makes 16 – 18, one ounce baby servings.

 3 Asian pears, washed, quartered and cored just before cooking

 Steamer Method:

Place prepared pears in steamer basket set in a pot filled with a small amount (about 1 – 2 inches, but not to touch fruit) of lightly boiling water.  Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 10 – 12 minutes or until pears are tender.  Pears should pierce easily with a toothpick.  Set pears and cooking liquid aside to cool.  Scrape pears for skin and puree in a food processor with a steel blade.  Add tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid to puree to make smoother and adjust consistency.

Freeze puree in ice cuber tray or individual molds.  Pop out cubes and store in freezer safe container for up to 3 months.

Cut asian pears, ready for steaming
Steamed and peeled pears ready for pureeing
Pureed asian pears
Ready for freezing