Saturday, February 11, 2012

A baby food primer

Blueberries
Over the years I have very gradually converted to making baby food.  With my first baby, I never made any of her baby food.  I used instant cereals and all jarred foods.  It never even crossed my mind to do anything else - you know, dogs eat dog food, cats eat cat food, and babies eat baby food.  I even bought jarred mashed bananas.

Then, with my last several babes, I have had this slow-dawning idea of making more and more of their food.  Now, with Abby, I am to a point where I am making almost all her food from scratch, and it is just not the big deal I might have thought it would be.  I decided to throw together a primer for making homemade baby food from what I have learned over the years, by much trial and error.

Remember to start with very fine, thin purees and single ingredients, introducing new foods a few days apart.  Baby can work up to thicker, coarser textures and multiple-ingredient foods over time.

Grains

I already covered rice cereal in a previous post.  This same method can be used with pretty much any grain - although I have personally only tried rice and oats.  I plan to do barley and wheat soon.  A good rule of thumb for cooking time for the powder seems to be about 1/4 of the time it would take to cook the intact grains.  So, if you have oatmeal, and it says to cook it for 5 minutes, you can grind the oats and cook the powder (1/4 c powder to about a cup of water) for just over a minute.  Don't cook it for 10 minutes as if it were brown rice - unless you are trying to make glue.  Not that I had to learn that the hard way, of course.

Vegetables

Babies usually love yellow and orange veggies; I've had mixed reactions to the green ones.  As a general rule, bake or steam the veggie until very soft, and either fork-mash or run it thru the blender or food processor, depending on how fine your baby needs it to be.   Some veggies are easy to puree (squashes and sweet potatoes come to mind), while others are a bit more stubborn.  When you are pureeing vegetables, you will need to add water - I like to add the cooking water, if there is any, since it has some of the nutrients in it.  You may need to add more water than you would expect, and let the food processor run for a few minutes.  This will accomplish a fine puree even for peas and green beans.  Some ideas:
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White potatoes
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter squashes
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
Avoid:  Cruciferous veggies (like broccoli or cauliflower), leafy greens (ew...I've seen salad in a blender, it's not pretty.)

Fruits

Lots of fruits need very little prep.  The ones that do will just need a little cook time and the blender treatment.  Ideas:
  • Bananas - fork mash or use an electric mixer
  • Apples - cook with a little water (no peels).  Or cheat and just use plain old bottled applesauce - no sugar!
  • Pears - same as apples.
  • Berries - no cooking needed, just blend with some water or juice.  Mind the seedy ones for a young baby, though.
  • Peaches and plums - haven't tried this yet.  I suspect that very ripe ones would blend up fine, or you could lightly cook them first to soften.
  • Prunes - Cook to soften
  • Grapes?  Maybe?
  • Avocado 
  • Cherries
Avoid:  Citrus.

 
Proteins:

  • Whole milk yogurt
  • Egg yolks - hard boiled and mashed.
  • I don't make meats by themselves for babies.  They do get meat in blends, though.
  • Beans.  We're not big bean-eaters, so I don't think of them much - but they are so cheap and healthy that a good bean or lentil puree would be a fantastic baby food.

Blends:

This is the fun part!  I love to mix together two or three different foods for different tastes!  I will also lightly season blends, with cinnamon, garlic, or other spices.  I don't use salt, though.  I'll list some ideas, but this is where the possibilities are really limitless.
  • cereal, any fruit, and cinnamon
  • blend several fruits for a fruit salad
  • cereal, yogurt, and sweet potato
  • veggie medley
  • If the family is eating a dish that could go in the blender - do so!  I have done this with pot roast, spaghetti, beef stroganoff, chicken soup...don't be afraid to add water, broth, or juice to get the right texture.
Storage:

I use ice cube trays to freeze the extra in little cubes, which I put in ziplocks.  A cube is easy to defrost and is a perfect serving size.  For cereal, I just make enough for a couple of days and keep it in the fridge.

Do you make baby foods?  Please share how you do it and what foods you prepare!



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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Organizing Challenge - the floor is done!

Well, almost. :)  I decided to follow Alana's advice in the comments on my previous post, and remove anything not too heavy to move for vacuuming from the floor.  I haven't moved the speakers yet, so technically, the floor's not done.

But, just to make me happy, let's be UNtechnical, and say, "The floor is done!"  Hooray!  Cheer with me!  Because, it was only a few months ago that it looked like this:


                
Sometimes the progress has been painfully slow, and sometimes, piles shrank only to grow again. And, the whole room is not done, so the challenge isn't over.  The top of the dresser, the desk, and the bookshelf all need work.  And the closet...oh, the closet.  That could be a whole series in itself, but for now, we celebrate, because now it looks like this:


Took me about an hour to clear out that last pile in front of the dresser.  Mostly clothes that needed put away, or donated.  Quite a lot of outgrown baby clothes, and a huge stack of CDs.

The whole floor being cleared is something that has not happened for over a year...ever since I lost control during my first trimester of my most recent pregnancy. 

Next time I'll tackle one of the remaining problem areas in the main room.  Once those are all done, we'll face the closet.  Not, I must emphasize again, that I am afraid of the closet...really.  Why would I be? It's kind of exciting, really, going in there.  Sort of like being an archaeologist, a spelunker, and a mountain climber, all rolled into one.  What's not to like?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

In which I ramble about the elevator story...

Awhile ago now, I shared my elevator story.  It is by far the most entertaining of my birth stories; I always hope for boring births, now!   It was such a long post that I wanted to add my post-elevator thoughts in a second installment.

One time a friend asked me, jokingly, whether now, having experienced both hospital birth and elevator birth, which I preferred.  Ummm....in all seriousness, that's a tough one.  See, I'm kind of a crazy crunchy natural birth momma at heart.  Home birth draws me, though I have never done it for various reasons.  I still might someday.  So...the 100% intervention free aspect of the elevator was kind of nice.  No monitors, no IV (I always am GBS+, so I always have the heplock in)...it wasn't so bad.  Of course, it was cold, and not real clean, and not exactly private...

Nevertheless, I was, for a long time, kind of surprised by the level of sympathy I received from people.  They expected Mark and I to be utterly traumatized by our experience.  Finally, we figured out that there were several factors at play here:

One, I didn't want or expect any pain medication. I think a lot of the "you poor thing!" comments stemmed from an assumption that I would have had an epidural, or at least some analgesics, and would have been traumatized by going through birth without intervention.  On the contrary, I am grateful to God that I have never found myself in need of intervention in my births, and was prepared for a natural birth anyway.

Two, it was our fourth baby.  Mark says that if he had never witnessed birth before he would have been terrified, especially by the grayish color of the baby at the moment of birth.  I would have been much more afraid if I had not had enough experience to know that what I was feeling was within the range of normality - in fast forward!

Three, it just happened so fast.  We both just sat there, thinking, "did that really just happen??" 

On the other hand, there was some lasting effect.  I think the most difficult part of it was that it happened so fast that I didn't get the "brain fog" of labor - that lovely effect that pulls the sting out of the memories.  All my other labors I remember fuzzily - almost like remembering a dream, or like it happened to somebody else, and I heard about it afterward.  From Jonathan's birth, I remember everything very sharply, like any other memory - and that has, probably forever, somewhat altered my feelings about birth.  That's okay.  It's just part of who I am, like all my other births. 

Forgotten Way Farms Giveaway!

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