Oatmeal-Banana Cookies

I don’t know where this original recipe came from, but I’ve seen it all over. It’s a good one! Easy, yummy, and nutritious. It makes a great breakfast-on-the-go for Baby, or a healthy snack.

01 Oatmeal-Banana Cookies

You’ll need the following ingredients: 3 ripe bananas (I throw mine in a freezer bag and freeze them once they get over-ripe, so I always have several on hand), 1/3 cup applesauce, 2 cups oats, 1/4 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup raisins (I use Craisins or even dark chocolate chips sometimes), 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp cinnamon.

Start by tossing all the ingredients into a big mixing bowl…

02 Oatmeal Banana Cookies

…then mix them all together.

03 Oatmeal Banana Cookies

Spoon them onto a greased cookie sheet and put them in a 350 degree oven.

04 Oatmeal Banana Cookies

Cook them until they’re browned and solidified, about 15 minutes.

05 Oatmeal Banana Cookies

EAT ‘EM!

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10-12 month recipes

*Food combinations are fantastic, but always try to have your baby taste the food by itself before mixing it in a combination.

*Always wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking.

*You can use a baby food maker, food processor, or blender to puree. I use the Cuisinart Baby and love it. It even comes in handy for just steaming small amounts of veggies for a meal for my husband and me, too.

*Add breastmilk to any of these recipes.

In addition to the following recipe combinations, try the following ideas for easy finger foods:

  • Any diced fruit, especially a combination in a fruit salad
  • Baked sweet potato cubes (add carrot cubes to the mix for a healthy combo)
  • Baked squash or zucchini fries
  • Fried tofu sticks (lightly coat firm tofu with crushed cheerios or flax mill and fry in a small amount of olive oil)
  • Shredded cheeses
  • Boiled eggs chopped into small pieces
  • Scrambled eggs

Also, try the following tricks to help Baby practice with her spoon:

  • Puree cooked rice. Add a fruit and/or vegetable of your choice (steamed if necessary) and puree just a little more, until you have a pasty consistency. Serve with a spoon.
  • Greek yogurt–it’s thick and sticks well to a spoon.
  • Mix cottage cheese with a pureed fruit of choice and serve with a spoon.
  • Cook black beans (or any bean of your choice), mash them, and serve them with a spoon.

Grilled Cheese with Chopped Chicken and Vegetables

1. You can choose any vegetable puree that you’ve already prepared (carrots work well). Spread the puree on 2 pieces of whole-grain bread, just like you would spread mustard or mayonnaise.

2. Add a piece of sliced cheese to each side of the bread. I like to use 1 cheddar and 1 provolone, but you can use any kind.

3. Chop pre-cooked chicken into small pieces and sprinkle them on one of the pieces of bread.

4. Top the meat-covered bread with the second piece of bread, so the layers will be bread, vegetable puree, cheese, chicken, cheese, vegetable puree, bread.

5. Melt unsalted butter in a frying pan, then toast the sandwich just like you would toast a regular grilled cheese.

6. Allow sandwich to cool, cut into quarters, and serve.

Meatballs with Apples & Spinach

1. Chop 1 apple into 1/2″ pieces (do not peel).

2. Steam apple until just soft enough to puree. Reserve the water when finished.

3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add spinach and sauté until wilted.

4. Add spinach and apple to a blender and puree, using the reserved apple water to reach a smooth consistency.

5. Place 1 pound ground beef (or turkey or chicken) in a large mixing bowl.

6. Add 1/2 cup oatmeal and 1/4 cup flax mill to the ground beef.

7. Add as much pureed spinach and apples to the mixture as needed to bind the mixture. If you have any puree leftover, freeze it in ice cube trays for later use.

8. Mix all ingredients well, then form 1″ balls.

9. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until cooked through.

8-10 month recipes

*Food combinations are fantastic, but always try to have your baby taste the food by itself before mixing it in a combination.

*Always wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking.

*You can use a baby food maker, food processor, or blender to puree. I use the Cuisinart Baby and love it. It even comes in handy for just steaming small amounts of veggies for a meal for my husband and me, too.

*Add breastmilk to any of these recipes.

In addition to the following recipe combinations, you can also incorporate new foods by trying the following:

  • mix any fruit puree in yogurt or cottage cheese
  • add onions and/or leeks to any meat or veggie puree
  • add flax to different types of cereals
  • spread cream cheese on toast and let Baby practice with finger foods
  • cut grapes into quarters or slivers; serve them with grated cheddar cheese

Kale, Papaya & Blueberries

1. Thoroughly rinse 2 cups of fresh kale. Place it in a large stockpot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, peel and deseed 1 fully ripened papaya. Chop it into small pieces and set aside.

3. After the kale has been boiling for 15 minutes, add chopped papaya and 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries to the pot. Boil for another 15 minutes.

4. Drain, reserving water.

5. Puree, using the reserved water as needed to reach desired consistency.

Chicken, Onions & Apricots

1. Start with 1 cup cooked, boneless chicken. You can use white meat or dark meat, and it can be boiled, grilled, or roasted.

2. Halve 4-6 apricots, remove the pits, and replace open side down in a pan filled with 1″ of water. Roast at 400 until skins are soft and puckered, about 30-40 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, finely chop or shred cooked chicken.

4. Saute 1/2 cup chopped onions until they are translucent. If desired, add in 1/4 clove minced garlic.

5. Once apricots are cooked, remove them from the pan, reserving the water. Remove skins.

6. Add chicken, onions, and apricots to a large bowl. Mix well to combine.

7. Puree in batches, using the reserved apricot water as needed to reach desired consistency.

Chicken, Bell Pepper & Mango

1. Start with 1 cup cooked, boneless chicken. You can use white meat or dark meat, and it can be boiled, grilled, or roasted.

2. Finely chop or shred cooked chicken.

3. Finely chop 1 bell pepper (of any color). Sautee on medium heat until tender.

4. Peel and deseed mango.

5. It isn’t necessary to steam mango, but I do because it makes it  softer and easier to puree. Plus it gives you reserve water to mix into the puree. So, I recommend steaming your mango when you’re making purees.

6. Add chicken, bell pepper, and mango to a large bowl. Mix well to combine.

7. Puree in batches, using breastmilk or reserved water as needed to reach desired consistency.

Turkey, Broccoli & Cranberries

1. Start with 1 cup cooked, boneless turkey. You can use white meat or dark meat, and it can be boiled, grilled, or roasted.

2. Chop 1 cup of broccoli (a combination of stems and florets) into small pieces. Steam until tender.

3. Add 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries to a pot of boiling water. Return the water to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the cranberries “pop,” about 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, finely chop or shred cooked turkey.

5. When the cranberries have “popped,” drain them, reserving the water.

6. Add turkey, broccoli, and cranberries to a large bowl. Mix well to combine.

7. Puree in batches, using the reserved cranberry water as needed to reach desired consistency.

Turkey, Apples, Figs & Brown Rice

1. Start with 1 cup cooked, boneless turkey. You can use white meat or dark meat, and it can be boiled, grilled, or roasted.

2.Grind 1/4 cup brown rice in your blender. Add 1 cup of water to a small boiler and pour in rice dust. Cook for about 10 minutes, until all water has evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Cut 1 apple into 1/2″ pieces (do not peel) and place in a large boiler.

4. Stem and quarter 6-8 figs and add them to the boiler with the apple. Add water to cover the fruit.

5. Boil until just soft enough to puree.

6. Meanwhile, finely chop or shred cooked turkey.

7. Drain the apples and figs, reserving the water.

7. Mix turkey, cooked rice, apples, and figs together in a large bowl.

8. Puree in batches, using the reserved water as needed to reach desired consistency.

6-8 Month Recipes

*Food combinations are fantastic, but always try to have your baby taste the food by itself before mixing it in a combination.

*Always wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking.

*You can use a baby food maker, food processor, or blender to puree. I use the Cuisinart Baby and love it. It even comes in handy for just steaming small amounts of veggies for a meal for my husband and me, too.

*Add breastmilk to any of these recipes.

Apples and Pears

1. Cut 3 apples and 3 pears into 1/2″ pieces (do not peel).

2. Steam fruit until just soft enough to puree.

3. Remove fruit from your steamer, but reserve the water.

4. Puree, adding reserved water to reach desired consistency.

Peas and Pears

1. Cut 1 pear into 1/2″ pieces (do not peel).

2. Steam pear until just soft enough to puree. Remove fruit from your steamer, but reserve the water.

3. Place pear pieces, along with 8 ounces  of frozen green peas, in your food processor.

4. Puree, adding reserved water to reach desired consistency.

Apples, Pears, and Green Beans

1. Cut 3 apples and 3 pears into 1/2″ pieces (do not peel).

2. Steam fruit until just soft enough to puree.

3. Remove fruit from your steamer, but reserve the water.

4. Place fruit, along with 1-2 cups frozen (thawed) green beans, in your food processor.

5. Puree, adding reserved water to reach desired consistency.

Apples and Sweet Potatoes

1. Rub unsalted butter on a sweet potato and bake it for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees, until tender.

2. Cut 2 apples into 1/2″ pieces (do not peel). Steam them until just soft enough to puree.

3. Remove fruit from your steamer, but reserve the water.

4. Scoop the meat of the potato out of the skin (discard the skin).

5. Puree apples and sweet potato together, adding reserved water from the apples to reach desired consistency.

Pears and Zucchini Squash

1. Peel 2 medium zucchini, slice into 1/2″ slices, and roast at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until tender.

2. Cut 3 pears into 1/2″ pieces (do not peel). Steam them until just soft enough to puree.

3. Remove fruit from your steamer, but reserve the water.

4. Puree pears and zucchini  together, adding reserved water from the pears to reach desired consistency.

Mangoes and Butternut Squash

1. Cut a butternut squash in half and, using a small metal spoon, scoop out the strings and seeds. Place the halves open side up in a roasting pan with about 1/4″ of water. You can sprinkle the squash with cinnamon and/or nutmeg for added flavor. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until soft enough to puree.

2. Peel 1 mango and chop it into 1/2″ pieces.

3. It isn’t necessary to steam mango, but I do because it makes it  softer and easier to puree. Plus it gives you reserve water to mix into the puree. So, I recommend steaming your mango when you’re making purees.

4. Remove mango from your steamer, but reserve the water.

5. Once the squash is finished, scoop the meat out of the shell.

6. Puree the squash and the mango together, adding reserved water, to reach desired consistency.

Pumpkin, Parsnip and Peaches

1. Wash 1 small pumpkin, 1 parsnip and 3 peaches.

1. Cut 1 small pumpkin in half and, using a small metal spoon, scoop out the strings and seeds. Place the halves open side down in a roasting pan with about 1/4″ of water.

2. Peel 1 parsnip and cut it lengthwise. Place it on tinfoil and drizzle with olive oil. Close the tinfoil around the parsnip pieces and place on a baking sheet.

3. Bake pumpkin and parsnip in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes, until they are both soft enough to puree.

4. Meanwhile, peel 3 peaches and chop them into 1″ pieces.

5. Once the pumpkin has finished cooking, scoop the meat out of the shell.

6. Add pumpkin, parsnips and peaches to the food processor. Puree them all together until you reach the desired consistency. Use breastmilk, if necessary, to thin it out.

Bananas, Butternut Squash & Carrots

1. Cut 1 medium butternut squash in half and, using a small metal spoon, scoop out the strings and seeds. Place the halves open side up in a roasting pan with about 1/4″ of water. You can sprinkle the squash with cinnamon and/or nutmeg for added flavor. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until soft enough to puree.

2. Peel 2 carrots and chop them into 1/4″ pieces. Steam them until soft enough to puree (I find that carrots need to be very soft in order to puree them smoothly).

3. Peel and chop 2 bananas into 1/2″ pieces.

4. Once the squash is finished, scoop the meat out of the shell.

5. Remove carrots from your steamer, but reserve the water.

6. Puree all three together, adding reserved water from the carrots, to reach desired consistency.

Bananas, Avocados & Tofu

1. Peel 2 bananas and 1 avocado and cut them into 1/2″ pieces.

2. Mix the bananas and avocado with 8-12 ounces of tofu. Silken tofu works nicely, but you can also use tub tofu (just drain it well).

3. Puree all three together until you reach a soft consistency. Use breastmilk, if necessary, to thin it out.

For more ideas, go here! Don’t be afraid to make your own combinations.

Lesson 58: Tips on storing your homemade baby food

When I first started making baby food, I purchased a bunch of little storage bowls like these and these.

Baby food bowls

And I thought I was being clever because they were so much cheaper than the ones I found in my local stores. What I soon discovered was, not only were they an unnecessary expense, but they also took up entirely too much space in my freezer (which was already stocked full with bags of breastmilk).

English: A Ziploc plastic bag.

English: A Ziploc plastic bag. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I soon discovered that it was much easier to freeze the food in covered ice cube trays overnight, then pop them out and store them in labeled Ziploc freezer bags. Or, for larger sized portions, I use silicone muffin trays wrapped in aluminum foil to freeze them before storing the food in freezer bags. Ice cube trays make about 1 ounce portions and muffin trays make approximately 3.5 ounce portions.

Now that J is older and able to manage solid foods rather than purees, I make a lot of one-pot meals (complete with proteins, grains and vegetables) which are frozen in the muffin tray portions. I also spend some time once every other month chopping or slicing a variety of fruits (grapes, melons, mangos, berries, peaches, pineapples, etc.–I try to stick with what’s in season). I divide them into portions using snack-sized Ziploc bags, then stack those bags into gallon-sized freezer bags. You can do the same thing with vegetables (for instance, I cube carrots and sweet potatoes and freeze them together so that I can grab a handful out to roast for him as a quick snack). This allows me to easily pull out a snack or side dish for a meal.

It’s that easy–no reason to complicate it!

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Lesson 57: Not everything has to be organic

When I first started making my own baby food, I went crazy trying to buy all organic, all the time. And then I realized that, not only was that not budget friendly, it also wasn’t necessary. If you, like most of us, are on a budget and need to prioritize your organic purchases, it’s easy to do so.

The “Dirty Dozen” (i.e., the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables)

I typically only buy organic fruits and vegetables from this list:

  • apples
  • celery
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • grapes
  • hot peppers
  • nectarines (imported)
  • peaches
  • potatoes
  • spinach
  • strawberries
  • sweet bell peppers

The “Clean 15″

These foods are generally considered safe to buy as non-organic:

  • asparagus
  • avocados
  • cabbage
  • cantaloupe
  • sweet corn
  • eggplant
  • grapefruit
  • kiwi
  • mangos
  • mushrooms
  • onionss
  • papayas
  • pineapples
  • sweet peas
  • sweet potatoes

I use the Dirty Dozen app on my iPhone. It’s a free and easy resource.

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Lesson 56: Be creative with your purees

I bought a book on making baby food in the beginning, but then quickly realized that it wasn’t necessary because there are a lot of websites that answer questions and offer free recipes and ideas. Some of these sites are Nurturebaby, Homemade Baby Food Recipes, Weelicious, and Wholesome Baby Food.

Wholesome Baby Food offers a handy little chart that tells you when many foods are recommended. I stuck to it like crazy and only offered a new food every 3-4 days. However, food allergies aren’t typically an issue in our family, so you can bet I will not worry about it nearly as much with the second baby. Even so, I do believe it’s better to be careful about the types of food you introduce in the beginning just because Baby’s digestive system is still developing.

Using the information provided on Wholesome Baby Food’s chart, I created my own chart (I find it easier to read it by age rather than food type). If your family does have a history of food allergies, it’s probably a good idea to keep track of any reactions your child might have to certain foods. Here you can find my baby food chart.

Consider having your child taste the new food alone before you mix it with anything. It was really important to me that J smelled, touched and tasted the food by itself. If he didn’t like it, I kept offering it anyway. More times than not, after offering it a few times, he ate it. And for the few times he didn’t develop a taste for a particular food, I could easily get him to eat it in combination with another food.

Once you’ve introduced a food to your child, don’t hesitate to experiment with mixing purees. You can make fruit and veggie purees to put into cereals, you can mix different fruits together and you can even make vegetable and fruit combinations (which can come in handy during the picky toddler years). It’s really fun to experiment with the combinations. I’ll post some of my favorite recipes in the near future.

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Lesson 55: Make your own first foods

Making your own baby food may sound daunting, but it’s really easy and not that time-consuming. I’ve found that I love making J’s food for him! Not only do I know exactly what goes in the food, but it saves me money. As he’s grown older, I’ve found that I really look forward to experimenting with new recipes. I love being able to just open the freezer and pull out a meal that I know is nutritious and yummy. As an added bonus, it has encouraged me to cook healthier meals for the whole family.

If you wish to start off with some type of cereal for your baby’s first food, you can easily make your own.

Brown Rice Cereal

Brown rice.

Brown rice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We started with brown rice cereal and it’s super easy to make. All you need is a small bag of brown rice. Throw it in the blender and grind it up until it’s fine. Then just store the rice in a tupperware bowl. To make the cereal, you’ll need 1/4 c of the ground rice and 1 c of water. Boil the water in a saucepan, then add the rice. Whisking constantly, simmer for about 10 minutes. Add breastmilk or formula until it reaches the desired consistency.

Oatmeal Cereal

Just like you did with the rice, grind your oatmeal in a blender until fine (do not use instant oatmeal) and store it in a tupperware bowl. To make a batch of cereal, boil 3/4 c water and add 1/4 c of the ground oats. Whisking constantly, simmer for about 10 minutes. Add breastmilk or formula until it reaches the desired consistency.

Barley Cereal

Barley is a major animal feed crop.

Barley is a major animal feed crop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, ground your barley in a blender and store it in a tupperware bowl. When you’re ready to make a batch of cereal, boil 1 c of water and add 1/4 c ground barley. Whisking constantly, simmer for about 10 minutes. Add breastmilk or formula until it reaches the desired consistency.

Quinoa Cereal

Another of our favorites is quinoa, but we didn’t introduce it until he was a little older. To make this cereal, boil 2 c of water and add 1 c of quinoa flakes. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Like the other cereals, feel free to add breastmilk or formula.

I got all of these recipes from Wholesome Baby Food. This is my favorite go-to website for baby food. But remember, you don’t have to start with cereal! Check out this Wholesome Baby Food page for other ideas for first foods.

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Lesson 53: Starting your baby on solid food

We definitely rushed the process when we started J on rice cereal at 4 months, hoping to help his acid reflux. He ate it like a champ–and then farted all night long. And it absolutely did not help his acid reflux at all, since he spitup twice as much the next day as he usually does.

J

So we held off another couple of months and tried him on the rice cereal again at 6 months. Again, he ate it with no problem, and then farted for the rest of the day. He was in obvious discomfort.

The next day, I tossed the box of Beech-Nut rice baby cereal in the trash and made my own cereal using brown rice instead of white. He tolerated this much better and we had fewer problems with discomfort and gas. Now, I don’t know if that’s because we swapped to brown rice or because his little body was adjusting better to the solid food. Either way, I never went back to boxed cereal and I’m pretty sure that’s the moment I fell in love with making J’s food myself–I loved knowing exactly what was in it and it was much less expensive. Mostly, I just really enjoyed making it–and I still do.

J

Throughout this process, I learned a few things and will definitely do things differently with any future babies. This is my To Do/Reminder List for My Future Self.

1. Don’t rush it! Don’t start feeding solids until Baby is at least 6 months old unless he shows major readiness signs (such as showing interest in what’s on my own plate) before that. If he can’t hold his head and neck up well, he’s not ready.

2. Do not begin feeding solids at dinner time. In the beginning, always start with one meal a day and make it early. That way, if Baby has a hard time digesting, it at least won’t keep her (and you!) awake all night.

3. The first time you offer solids, do it some time between his typical meal times–that way he’s neither starving nor stuffed. After that, always offer to nurse (or bottle feed) before offering solids (until he reaches 1-year-old or begins to lose interest in nursing).

4. Skip the bland cereals and make Baby’s first food a yummy fruit or vegetable. Maybe an avocado?

5. Don’t worry so much about food allergies if you don’t have a family history of them. Yeah, skip the peanuts at first, but only until Baby’s 1st birthday.

6. The decision to skip juice was a good one–J loves water! Skip the juice.

7. Research and consider skipping the purees and going with baby-led weaning (i.e. harass Emily into telling me detail-by-detail how it goes with Baby E–hi Emily!). Any of you have experience with baby-led weaning? Please tell me about it in the comments!

J

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