O.K. Babies… Ready, Set, Eat! (Organic Baby Food Puree Recipes)

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From Lisa Barnes

I have three friends that gave birth to healthy, happy babies last week. In addition our illustrious leader and blogger, Dave Smith met (and fell in love with) his first granddaughter. Congratulations to all the new parents and grandparents! In honor of the new kids on the block here are a few first food recipes that the new moms and dads can read about and maybe even practice making before the day to feed solids is upon them. Speaking of practicing, I recently got a question from a gentleman about making fresh purees now and freezing them for when his son was ready to eat solids. I thought that was a nice idea (it’s good in the freezer for about 3 months), until I asked him his son’s age. He said he was going to be born in 7 months. Now that was one excited, anxious and very prepared father-to-be. It goes by faster than you know, but let’s not serve these little one’s freezer burned puree.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a new baby in the house. There’s so much to do — holding, rocking, playing, diapering, bathing, feeding… Once they’ve started solids the easiest tip I tell new parents is to always have bananas and avocados on hand. Bananas are perfect since so many children love them and they’re easy to tote around (since they come in their own wrapper). Carry a small spoon and avocados can be enjoyed by baby right out of the peel. Banana and avocado even blends well together. I’m not suggesting you give these for every meal, but it’s a quick, no cook, healthy option that’s convenient to give when you’re out and about, shopping in the supermarket, on an airplane or just in your kitchen while you’re making or defrosting something else… such as these first purees….

Pear Puree

Pears are usually a pleasing first food to baby, because of the sweet and mild flavor and creamy texture. There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world, but only a handful have been cultivated into the fruit we enjoy. Luckily you don’t need to know about all 3,000! Any variety such as Anjou, Comice or Bosc, will work for steaming as long as they are ripe (but not mushy).

4 medium organic pears (3 to 4 ounces each), quartered and cored just before cooking

Steamer Method: Place prepared pears in steamer basket set in a pot filled with 1 to 2 inches of lightly boiling water Do not let water touch fruit. Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 10 to 12 minutes or until pears are tender. Pears should pierce easily with a toothpick. Set pears and cooking liquid aside to cool. Scrape flesh from 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.

Microwave Method: Place prepared pear quarters in microwave safe dish. Add ¼ cup water and cover tightly, allowing a corner to vent. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir pears and re-cover and cook for 3 to 6 minutes or until tender. Check for doneness, cool and proceed with recipe above.

Pour puree in ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop out cubes and seal and label in freezer bags for up to 3 months.

Sweet Potato Puree

I never met a baby who didn’t love sweet potatoes. They are much sweeter in taste and higher in nutrients than the basic white potato. They pack more beta carotene (an antioxidant) than any other vegetable and are loaded with fiber and vitamin A. Baking the potatoes in the oven may take longer but the flavor is much richer than steaming in the microwave or stovetop.

2 medium (7 to 8 ounces each) organic sweet potatoes

Water, formula or milk

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425ºF. Prick whole potatoes with a small knife, and place on baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender, and skin is wrinkled. Potatoes should pierce easily with a toothpick. Set potatoes aside to cool before handling. Using your fingers, peel potato skin from flesh. Mash with a fork for thicker potatoes. Or puree in a food processor with a steel blade until mashed. For a smoother and less sticky texture add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, formula or milk at a time. Add liquid and process until you’ve reached desired consistency.

Pour puree in ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop out cubes and seal and label in freezer bags for up to 3 months.

Note: The names sweet potatoes and yams are used interchangeably in the United States, although true yams are different than sweet potatoes. Only sweet potatoes can be found in the U.S. You will notice different varieties (with varying shades of orange) in the stores – most common are Jewel and Garnet.
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
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