The one question I often get as a private chef these days is… what the hell do you feed your baby? I’ve been fortunate to have the gift of time to be able to prepare homemade purees and finger foods for Evy since she was about 5 months old. Many of my mom-friends have asked me to write this post because they struggle with time management or creativity to be able to feed their child home cooked meals multiple times a day (which is in all a crazy new undertaking), which drives them into buying pre-packaged food. While food pouches and jars are tasty, convenient, cost-effective, and nutritious (ish)… there’s only so much processed foods a parent would like to give their child. In Los Angeles we have access to a large variety of organic and non-processed food so here are my staples for my almost-11-month-old and how to prepare them fast.
- Tangerines (cuties)- cut segments out to avoid stringy choking hazard (from personal experience)
- Apples- Steam, dice, or make a chunky puree while adding a pinch of cinnamon, all spice, and ground ginger
- Pears- Same as above (pears are big on fiber so aid with constipation)
- Bananas- cut into rounds and then into thirds and spread almond butter on them. This is Evy’s favorite dessert.
- Blueberries- slightly squish them or cut in half to avoid choking (I use my teeth and avoid giving her the sour ones since she is NOT a fan of those ones)
- Raspberries- mash into yogurt or oatmeal to give it some flavor
- Avocados (yes it’s a fruit)- dice or mash. Since it’s tricky for them to pick up try dusting crushed up cereal powder to give some texture.
- Broccoli- steam until you can peel away little florets small enough for them to pick up.
- Green Beans- trim and steam until you can mush between your fingers for perfect consistency. Sometimes I sauté it in butter to give a richer flavor.
- Sweet Potato/Squash – bake or steam for different flavors. Add nutmeg and all spice with a little butter.
- Carrots- cut into rounds and then thirds to avoid choking. Steam or roast until they are mushy.
- Peas- fresh or frozen- steam and then serve as is to help them with their pincer skills, or puree with other veggies and potatoes. Great source of protein. (link)
- Yogurt- I serve a couple tablespoons with oatmeal and fruit for breakfast or as a snack.
- Whole Milk String Cheese- break off little pieces. Best snack to have on hand unless your child is of course lactose intolerant.
- Oatmeal- we sometimes still use baby oatmeal since we have a plethora of canisters left. Otherwise instant oatmeal can be used or oats soaked overnight with some almond milk. Sprinkle cinnamon and add pureed fruit.
- Wheat Bread- Great traveling snack to fill them like puffs. Add almond butter, peanut butter, or even a small amount of jelly for breakfast.
- Quinoa- Boil with less-sodium chicken stock for some flavor. Add chopped up herbs like parsley, oregano, cilantro and serve with a protein.
- Whole Wheat Pasta (or gluten free)- penne or fusilli work well with us. Boil it a few minutes more than package states so that it can mash between gums. Dice into little pieces and serve with marinara.
- Lentils– boil then puree or leave in soft chunks. I get the pre-cooked lentils for convenience. Add to protein and veggies and mash all together or serve separately. Great source of iron and protein. I add curry powder since Evy likes the added kick.
- Free-Range Chicken tenders- bake (450 degrees for 20 min is usual estimate) with some olive oil, garlic powder, and an herb such as dill weed, thyme, basil, or oregano to give it another flavor.
- Firm Tofu- cut into small squares. Does not need cooking, but I sometime lightly sauté with olive oil and garlic powder.
- Salmon- Bake 375 for 15 minutes with some garlic and then flake off pieces
- Almond Butter– Add to oatmeal, bread, bananas, some babies like it on everything. Make sure your baby isn’t allergic to it first.
- Eggs- Everything! Scramble, hard boil, make into french toast with wheat bread, omelette with cheese, frittata with favorite veggies. This is a nutritious and star ingredient that will keep babies full.
- Grass fed Beef- great source of iron. Ground it with some coconut oil or olive oil then sprinkle in some garlic powder and/or herbs for flavor. I have pureed it in the past but Evy wasn’t a fan so now she prefers it as a finger food.
- Hummus– I make my own with garbanzo beans, garlic and olive oil… but of course the store bought kind is equally as delicious. Evy loves the garlic flavor the best. It’s super convenient and portable and a great food to share with her
NOTE: I usually choose organic to avoid all the added hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and chemicals especially for meat and dairy but if for any reason I can’t buy organic, I get hormone free. I also buy my fruits and vegetables organic when I can especially the ones with a thin skin. The thicker skinned non-organic fruits and veggies are at least protected by their outer layer.
These staples can keep Evy fed for weeks at a time. I freeze a lot of these ingredients too so I have it available whenever I don’t have time to go to the store. Vegetables and fruits are very easy to freeze (I still puree some and put them in ice cube trays as a backup). There are a few recipes I will share in a future blog post that require a little bit more time, but for time-saving/ conveniences sakes hopefully this will help spark up some good foodie ideas.
by Camella Jaeger Gorman. Visit Cam's blog here.