Publix GreenWise Market Magazine- September 2008
Spoonfuls of Love
Start your baby on a lifetime of nutritious eating with foods that are made at home.
When Heather Schoenrock of Duluth, Georgia, was ready to introduce her oldest child to fruits and veggies, she headed to the kitchen to whip up her own baby food. Choosing organic options, she made tasty dishes out of such produce as apples and green beans. She continued the culinary adventure when two more children joined the family.
“I enjoy making food for my kids,” says Schoenrock. “Plus, I like that it’s fresh and I know exactly what’s going into it.”
Organic baby food is a fabulous idea, agrees Alan Greene, M.D., author of Raising Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care (Jossey-Bass, 2007). Choosing organic, whether homemade or store-bought, means you’re feeding your child food grown without pesticides or other chemicals. Many parents appreciate that extra measure of caution, especially for babies who are in their first year of life, Greene says.
Besides the advantages of organics, the payoffs of playing chef are many. “Homemade baby food is more flavorful and closer to the taste of the actual food,” says Lisa Barnes, author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler (HP Books, 2005). Homemade pureed peaches, for example, taste just like a peach you’d bite into yourself. Your baby will not only enjoy the sweet, juicy flavor now, but she’ll also be less likely to turn up her nose later when you offer her peach slices at snack time.
BASIC BITES: FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Once your child’s pediatrician has given the green light to introduce produce, start with baby-friendly choices such as squash, sweet potatoes, peas, avocados, apples, pears, mangoes and peaches.
Bananas are another great early food, and they don’t even need to be cooked. Just mash and serve, thinning out the pulp with a little breast milk or formula if necessary. For other fruits and veggies, follow these simple steps to create your own wholesome homemade fare:
1 Wash it. Produce, including organic, should be washed under cold running water for at least 20 seconds. Even foods with skins that will be peeled need a bath. “When you cut into or peel it, anything on the outside can get pushed in,” explains Barnes.
2 Cook until tender. “To minimize nutrient loss, microwaving is your best bet since it requires the shortest cooking time,” says Molly Morgan, R.D., a mom who makes her own baby food and is the owner of Creative Nutrition Solutions in Vestal, New York. Steaming also works, but skip boiling, which can sap nutrients and flavor.
3 Whip it smooth. Place the cooked food in a food processor or blender and process until it reaches the desired consistency. For a baby new to solid food, go for a smooth, creamy puree. Older babies can handle a chunkier texture.
4 Store it. Keep your baby food fresh in the fridge for up to three days or freeze purees in ice cube trays. Once they’re frozen, pop the cubes out of the tray and seal in a freezer bag that you’ve dated and labeled. For optimum taste, use frozen purees within about three months.
5 Serve it up. When mealtime rolls around, defrost cubes of food by warming them on the stove or running hot water over the plastic bag. Even easier: Take out a day’s servings the night before and defrost them in the fridge.
MASTER CLASS: GRAINS AND MEATS
Once your baby is older, you can try your hand at home-prepared meats and grains.
For added goodness, start with an all natural brand of meat, such as Publix GreenWise Market Chicken, Beef or Pork. “I cook meat as I normally would and puree it with water reserved from cooking veggies,” says Morgan.
Uncooked grains, such as barley and organic oats, should be processed in a food processor with a steel blade for a couple of minutes, says Barnes. For convenience you can process a large quantity of dry grains, then cook individual servings as needed. Or you can cook up the whole batch at once, then store it in the refrigerator for about two days or in the freezer for up to a month.
“Hold off on feeding your baby homemade grains until he is at least eight or nine months old,” Barnes cautions. Until then, your best bet for a first grain is store-bought baby rice cereal that’s fortified with iron. It’s the least allergenic and easiest to digest choice, and the consistency is thinner and creamier than you’d be able to achieve at home.
With these tips you’ll be on your way to dishing up delicious first meals that your baby will love and you can feel good about.
Foods for Baby to Avoid
• Honey. Botulinum spores found in honey can be harmful to babies under the age of one.
• Cow’s milk. It doesn’t meet an infant’s nutritional needs and reduces the absorption of iron. Avoid for the
• Citrus fruits. They can cause painful diaper rash.
• Home-prepared spinach, beets, turnips, carrots and collard greens. They may contain high levels of nitrates.
Avoid until Baby is six months old.
• Herbs and spices. Skip these for the first six months, until Baby has adjusted to basic foods.
Organic on the Run
No time to make your own kid cuisine? Store-bought baby foods made with organic ingredients are excellent choices when time is tight. “Look for the USDA organic seal or wording that says 100% organic,” advises registered dietitian Molly Morgan. When shopping at your neighborhood Publix, stock up on Earth’s Best and Gerber Organic foods. You and your baby will be glad you did.