Making Your Own Baby Food with a Food Mill

If you don’t already own a food mill, don’t necessarily rush out and buy one. In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we warn against buying something that you’ll use just a few short months—and really, babies graduate from pureed mush to bite-sized chunks relatively quickly. However, if you think you might get some use out of a food mill once your baby food days are over, then now is the time to get one. It’s one of the best tools for baby food cookery you can find. Why? A food mill saves a lot of work. No peeling and seeding—just steam some apples or sweet potatoes or green beans and run them through the mill. All the seeds, peels, and stringy bits get filtered right out–and it doesn’t even need any electricity to work!
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Homemade Pesto in Babyfood

pesto in baby food pesto with babyWould you like your little one to be a future gourmand?   Why not whip up some homemade pesto to stir into her sweet peas?  Don’t worry about it being overly spicy, nutty or cheesy.  You can limit or omit ingredients and still create a delicious green paste to mix into your baby’s food and your pasta.

Here’s a simple recipe from The Joy of Cooking.  We’ve tried it and found it to be quite delicious.

Load the following into a food processor or blender:

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (skip for babies less than one year old if worried about allergies)
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Brown Rice Protein Powder Boosts Nutrition in Baby Food

Back when I wrote my Fattening Baby, Naturally post, I was searching for alternatives to Pediasure.   Although Audrey’s pediatrician wanted her to drink Pediasure in order to gain some weight, I hesitated giving her something with non-organic dairy products, artificial flavors, sugar, and maltodextrin.  I ended up doing all sorts of things to boost the calories and fat in her diet, and I also made a discovery: MLO brown rice protein powder.

A 24-oz container of the powder costs about $10.  I found it in the health food section of my local grocery store.  It’s gluten-free, vegan, and contains two simple ingredients: rice protein concentrate and rice bran.  As rice is often a first food for babies, it seemed like the perfect thing to add to her food without bombarding her with unnatural or unhealthful ingredients.
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Eco-Recipe for Babies and Adults Alike: Cooking Dried Black Beans

My daughter has loved black beans since we started her on solid foods.  First we blended them up and added them to her oatmeal porridge (Mm-m, doesn’t that sound scrumptious?).  Later, she was able to pick individual beans up with her hands and gum them.  Once she was about eighteen months or so, she enjoyed eating black beans in salsa or chili.  We make three pounds of dried beans at a time, use most of them in Andy’s frozen burritos (we make twenty burritos at a time), and enjoy the rest in other recipes.

Using dried beans instead of canned has a few advantages.  First of all, it’s cheaper.  I estimate that we save a whopping $2.80 every time we cook our own beans.  We also avoid the toxins lurking in cans.  (Holly on the Ecobaby Blog wrote about her concerns with canned beans here.)  Last but not least, we’re keeping more than seven fifteen-ounce cans out of the recycling bin every time we cook a vat of tasty legumes. 
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Whole Wheat Pancakes from Scratch: Easy Homemade Baby Food

It takes almost no time to whip up a batch of pancakes from scratch.  Pancakes from a mix are filled with chemicals you don’t want your kids to eat, and they come in packaging you have to recycle or throw out.  For even speedier homemade pancakes, Joy explained how pre-mixing the dry ingredients can save even more time.  

Babies love pancakesThe version I use is adapted from the Joy of Cooking’s basic recipe.  I use 100% whole wheat pastry flour.  The pancake is a fairly versatile food–you can experiment with different flours and milks if your kids don’t eat wheat or dairy.  I’ve even forgotten the eggs and had them turn out all right!
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The Best (and Worst) Products for Making Baby Food

I’ve always wanted to be one of those minimalist cooks who owns nothing more than a good knife and one skillet.  After years of acquiring every kitchen gadget and appliance under the sun (including, but not limited to, a crepe maker, stand mixer, hand mixer, waffle iron, and panini press), I finally had to admit that I’m actually a kitchen maximalist.  The upside of this is that I didn’t have to run out and buy anything for my baby-food making needs. 

Below you’ll find my review of every conceivable food-masher known to home cooks.  Needless to say, it makes the most sense to start with what you already own and purchase something only if what you have doesn’t work.  I’d also recommend buying something that you’ll use in the kitchen for years, even after baby’s palate has matured.
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Fattening Baby, Naturally

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice—just my own experience! 

At my daughter’s one-year appointment, my pediatrician recommended that we increase her weight gain by giving her Pediasure instead of milk.  Considering this same doctor had once suggested feeding our baby Bugles, Pringles, and Lorna Doone cookies just to help her pack on the pounds, my first reaction was very resistant.  After all, I wouldn’t eat those foods—did I really want to start a junk food addiction in my young child? 

I went to the store to check it out, and found that the first three ingredients of Pediasure are water, sugar, and maltodextrin.  So what is maltodextrin, anyway?  It’s a common food additive that can be produced from starch—Pediasure derives theirs from corn.  I’d been careful to feed my baby nothing but organic fruits, grains, and vegetables during her entire first year—it felt like all that care about avoiding unnatural foods would go out the window as soon as she chugged her first bottle of sugary, chocolaty, maltodextriny Pediasure. 
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