Thank goodness Will has finally taken to eating solid foods, and with great enthusiasm! But this new three meals a day routine means I have to devote greater energy to providing him with variety and nutrition.
My pediatrician encouraged me starting at the nine month visit to give Will small, well cooked portions of anything we were eating with the exception of shellfish, peanut butter and honey. In theory, this sounds great - I'd love to feed him little pieces of steamed green beans and cooked chicken. But the reality is that I'm often eating leftovers or sandwiches for lunch, having dinner with Greg after Will goes to bed, and in the summer, we eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables, salads, and other things that aren't very baby friendly.
So while he and I can happily split a hummus sandwich or share our morning oatmeal, I still need to have plenty of baby food on hand so he can have something to go with his typically carb-loaded finger foods.
The organic jarred food I buy is great and convenient and preservative free, but there are only so many kinds, especially now that Will should have chunkier meals with some texture. He should also be eating more meat at this age than just vegetables, in order to get the fat, iron and protein babies require to grow at the rate they need to. (Healthy eating for adults and healthy eating for babies are two different things, which I realized mostly after reading three different baby books reminding me that full-fat dairy products and butter are beneficial for babies, while high fiber actually isn't.)
Long story shorter, here's two baby food recipes I made up for Will to stock my freezer.
Ground Beef with Sweet Potato and Onions
1/2 pound grass fed ground beef
1 T unsalted butter or olive oil
1/4 organic onion
3 medium sized or 2 large organic sweet potatoes
Roast the sweet potatos at 400 degrees until soft, approximately an hour and fifteen minutes. Remove from oven, slice lengthwise, and allow to cool. Melt the butter in a medium skillet on medium heat. Dice the onion very finely and cook in the melted butter over medium heat until softened and transluscent, about ten minutes. Add the ground beef and break it up into tiny pieces while it cooks. I use a potato masher, which works great. Cook beef until well browned and thoroughly cooked, then remove from heat. Slip the skins off the sweet potatos and puree with a hand blender or in a food processor, adding enough filtered water to achieve a thick but smooth consistency. Stir in the ground beef and onion mixture. Refrigerate and use one portion, and freeze the rest for up to one month. Makes 4-5 cups, which I turned into 17 quarter cup sized servings.
Note: It might be better to have your butcher grind a cut of beef for you on site; some packaged ground beef is actually cured with ammonia, which is not something I want to feed my baby.
Chunky Chicken Soup with Rice
4 organic carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 T olive oil or unsalted butter
2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 chicken breast halves, cut into tiny pieces
3 cups water or reduced sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup white rice
Heat the oil or butter in a medium sized stock pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and celery and sautee until softened, about ten minutes. Add the 3 cups of water or reduced sodium chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the cut up chicken and the rice and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until white rice is soft and chicken is cooked through. The vegetables should also be very soft, but if they're a large dice you may want to increase cooking time to 45 minutes. If desired, pulse with a hand blender to reach a smoother consistency.
Will was very receptive to the sweet potato with beef and onions especially!