10 Ideas for Making Baby Food with Fresh Winter Produce
Many supermarkets carry popular fruits and veggies year round, but the best flavors always come from crops grown locally and that means buying in season. I’ve made baby food for three babies now and love having a baby food maker that I swear by on hand to do it. But all you have to have is a pan and a blender, so let's feed some babies.
Photo Credit: Petr Kratochvil
This was the first food for all three of my kids, and there are a few ways to make it: steamed simply in water, steamed in chicken or vegetable stock or roasted whole in the oven—simply mash up and add enough water to get the consistency you need. (Runny for new eaters, chunkier for those whose bunny plate has seen more action.)
Photo Credit: Anish.rocsta, Wiki Commons
Apples are an excellent add-in for any baby food because they’re sweet (which babies like) and they’re always easy to find (which moms like). To make applesauce at home, simply peel and cut apples. Put them into a saucepan with about an inch of water and boil for about 15 minutes, then mash. For a meal that’ll stick with them longer, add apple baby food to a bowl of cooked old-fashioned oats. Water it down, or blend again for new eaters, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Photo Credit: By Kander (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This root vegetable is probably the one that you grew up on, but don’t be surprised if your baby turns his head. The flavor is surprisingly strong for delicate palates and one that’s often best when combined with other foods. Great combinations are: carrot and apple or carrot with sweet potato and brown rice. Either steam and puree the carrots or try roasting them with a drizzle of olive oil in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes before hitting the blender.
Photo Credit: Foodlets.com
The best way to make acorn squash (or any squash) for babies (or anyone) is to cut it in half and roast it with butter and maple syrup. Make one whole squash for Baby and roast another one for the adults. That’ll be one very happy dinner table, highchair included.
Get the full recipe for roasted acorn squash at Foodlets.
Photo Credit: Foodlets.com
This superfood is so good for growing bodies (one serving has more calcium than a glass of milk!) that I loved throwing it in with just about any baby food blend I could. Kale is heartier than other leafy greens though, hence its availability in the dead of winter, so you’ll cook it a bit longer than spinach. I always had good luck adding things like apples or pears as well: In a saucepan, combine 2 cups of chopped kale and 2 cups of peeled and diced apples or pears. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Boil for about 5-7 minutes, until the kale is soft enough to be blended, then blend. Add powdered whole-wheat cereal as needed to thicken.
Photo Credit: Karelj
When it comes to getting the good stuff into your kids, it’s hard to beat broccoli. It’s an intense flavor though, so I’ve found the best success by blending with other fruits and veggies. Puree one part steamed broccoli with two parts sweet potato, butternut squash, applesauce or any combination of all three.
Another idea: Roast a pan of broccoli drizzled with olive oil in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Puree some for baby while those with all their teeth enjoy the rest—and I guarantee you will! Get the full recipe for roasted broccoli at Foodlets.
Photo Credit: NobbiP
Sweet and soft, pears are an amazing addition to winter produce, especially for baby food. Any baby will love mashed pears alone (you don’t even have to cook them), but because they’re so flavorful I’ve added them to trickier tastes like carrots, squash or kale. Simply steam your peeled and chopped pears together with the veggies until everything is tender. (Tip: Since the pears will cook faster, leave them in bigger chunks and wait to add them to the pan until after the veggies have cooked alone for about 5 minutes.)
Photo Credit: TRISKALIA
If your baby is ready for finger foods, new potatoes are an amazing source of potassium in a very tasty package. Just boil them until fork tender, then add a bit of butter before dicing. For those in the puree stage, you already know what to do: Make mashed potatoes. But go easy on the cream, butter and salt. Instead add water or milk to thin, then pour a teaspoon of olive oil on top for a richer flavor.
Photo Credit: Epukas
Apple and cabbage makes a great combination for baby food, one that’s packed with nutrition. Just peel and chop the apple, then slice the cabbage. Saute 1 cup of both in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Blend in a food processor or baby food maker and add water to thin as needed.
If you think cabbage might be good for the baby but just isn’t YOUR thing, try this mouth-watering recipe tonight: Sauteed Cabbage with Ground Chicken & Dried Cranberries.
Photo Credit: George Chernilevsky
Like sweet potatoes, this healthy winter staple is so easy to find and so sweet on a baby’s tongue that it’s a natural for homemade baby food. My favorite method is peeling and chopping a big squash, adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil then roasting everything on a sheet pan at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Mash in a food processor with enough water to liquefy. Or try one of these tasty combinations: steamed apple and butternut squash or butternut squash with oatmeal and the smallest drizzle of pure maple syrup.
While you’re roasting butternut squash, try making this deceptively healthy recipe for your own dinner tonight. It’s so rich and creamy that you’ll never believe it’s good for you too: Spicy Pasta with Chicken, Spinach and Butternut Squash
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