I was so excited when Baylor started to eat solid foods because it meant I could start to use my handy little appliance, the Beaba BabyCook. I gently steamed and pureed a month’s worth of baby food the first week – and I haven’t stopped since. Even now that she is two, I still like to make a fruit and veggie puree that I mix with yogurt and add a little juice to make a smoothie or serve as a side dish like applesauce. I mix up the ingredients each time I make it – I use whatever is fresh, in season or in the fridge or freezer. I’ve had a few bad combinations so I offer the following as fool proof options:
1. Choose Three Fruits: I like to use a lot of berries because I can get the frozen organic versions. Also fresh peaches, apples, pears – whatever you like!
2. Choose Three Vegetables: Steer clear of brocolli and peas. Their flavor is too pungent and tends to overwhelm the mixture and tip off the kiddo that there are vegetables in there (gasp!). I like kale, spinach, corn, sweet potatoes and carrots. Don’t be afraid of the kale and spinach, their flavors are so mild they blend in effortlessly.
3. Steam – Chop all of the ingredients into small chunks and all around the same size. If you have a baby food maker, follow the usual instructions for the items. Otherwise, stack up the items and gently steam in a pot. The basket steamers work great. Layer the fruit and veggies in order of what will take the longest to cook. For example; carrots should go on the bottom because they need longer than say a peach or blueberries. Greens like spinach should be last. I think it’s better to under cook rather than over cook so that the food is tender, but the vitamins and minerals are saved. *Reserve the liquid for blending.*
4. Blend – Using a baby food maker, a Cuisenart, a Bullet or a blender, mix all of the items together. Use the reserved liquid from steaming to thin out the mix and make it smooth. I also sometimes add in a little fruit juice. I like V8 V Fusion Juice.
5. Spice It Up – Totally optional, but adding in cinnamon not only enhances the flavor of the sauce, but it adds antioxidants. Also fresh mint, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice add interest/flavor.
6. Serve and Store – I make a mix about once a week and serve it through out the week. I mix it with Greek yogurt each morning and let the kiddo eat it with a spoon. It’s also great as a side dish or with just a little juice or milk to make it easy to slurp through a straw. Just make sure it’s a wide straw in case there are a few chunks of fruit.
- Going Local – There are many great farmers markets popping up all over Scottsdale. Check out www.arizonafarmersmarkets.com to see where and when they are open. There are also tons of produce delivery services like Bountiful Baskets (www.bountifulbaskets.org) and Nature’s Garden Delivered (www.az.naturesgardendelivered.com) that will bring local, fresh and even organic varieties of fruits and veggies right to your door.
- Make it fun – I love getting Baylor involved. She is an expert at sitting on the counter and throwing blueberries and strawberries into the steaming basket. She will usually steal a few bites while she’s doing it which makes it even better. Also, it’s amazing how a straw from a restaurant or a cup that is usually reserved for parents makes it even more exciting. I’ve also been known to save the plastic cups from store bought applesauce and serve my fruit mix in it. Hey, whatever gets them to eat veggies, right?