My (unsolicited) advice for feeding baby – natural, homemade babyfood

A friend of mine recently asked me if I had any tips for making her own baby food.  I made “C” fresh, homemade babyfood. I was obsessive about it.  I thought about it constantly and researched everything you could think of about feeding baby.  I want to do every thing I can to make sure “C” gets the best start in life.  Here is a little bit of what I learned along the way:

Formula:  Yes, I was a dual breast-feeding/formula feeder from “C”‘s birth.  Seems hypocritical given my overall focus on being more natural and healthy.  It was a personal choice that I made and we went 100% formula after just 5 weeks.  Formula feeding was easier and happier for me and I was able to actually enjoy feeding my baby.  I felt that it gave me more happy, quality time with “C” which is just as important to me as living naturally.  Judge if you want, but I hope you won’t.  Anyway, when I finally realized that all the major formula brands use milk that has been treated with growth hormone, I did a lot of research and settled on Baby’s Only.  There are actually a lot of things to consider (which I didn’t think about initially because I just went with what the hospital used and was free) …what they use as the fat source, what sweetener they use, whether it has DHA and, if so, what method they use to extract the DHA.  I use the lactose free variety because “C” started blowing out diapers daily around 4 months-which went on for quite a while-and it stopped almost instantly when we switched to the low-lactose formula.  Abe’s Market is the best place I’ve found to get Baby’s Only since you can’t get it in any stores, at least none that I go to.  There is ALWAYS a coupon code if you google and they also sell lots of other great natural products, food and bath stuff for babies and grown ups.  You also earn reward points with every order that add up fast.
Cereal:  We did not use baby cereal as a first food (actually avacado and banana were the first two).  Just personal preference.  We do use cereal in her morning smoothies and mixed in to other foods to add calories and extra iron.  There are SO many options other than rice cereal: barley, oatmeal, multigrain (my favorite is Earth’s Best multigrain – oatmeal, barley and spelt) and even quinoa cereal.
Pouches:  Those baby food pouches are so popular right now but I was not interested in the store-bought food that came inside.  So, make your own!  The Infantino Fresh Squeezed pouch making system is amazing.  I love it.  It’s like a plunger system that you hook empty pouches up to and squirt your own, homemade, healthy food into.  Purees are the obvious fillers but think outside the box…you can add anything that is mushy or small enough to get through the top…think quinoa, well cooked oatmeal, yogurt.  Applesauce is “C”‘s favorite.  (Fill your crockpot with peeled, cored, chopped apples, add whatever and however much seasoning you want…I use cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla but I know they suggest holding off on cinnamon till 9 or 10 months…then set it for 8 hours and forget it.  Sometimes I even use two parts apples and one part butternut squash…after 8 hours and seasoning, no one can tell its in there.)  I did not give pouches until “C” was good at eating off the spoon and give pouches only as a snack.  I didn’t want “C” to learn to slurp her meals out of a pouch.
Puffs:  I was against using puffs as a first finger food and my attempts at homemade puffs were an epic failure.  We ended up using freeze dried fruit (melts in the mouth and it’s just 100% real fruit) broken up into baby bite size pieces.  Banana and mango were the best for first food but freeze dried must be becoming trendy because they have so much variety now, even some veggies.  Trader Joes is the best brand but Target actually now sells it under their Simply Balanced Brand.  Just read the labels because some brands and varieties may have sugar or sulfates which you want to avoid.  Warning, banana cause constipation…to cure, soak one unsulfered prune in about two ounces of hot water and use the water in the bottle-it counts as part of the water for the formula, you don’t want to dilute the formula.  When baby is old enough he can also eat the chopped up prune!  Or you can puree it and mix it in to his food.
Easy finger food meals: Dr. Praegers in the frozen section.  This brand has veggie burgers, veggie and potato pancakes, fish sticks, etc.  DELICIOUS (for grown ups too – my hubby requests their veggie burgers for dinner), low sodium, all natural, no GMOs. = best baby food website ever.  I looked at this site minimum once a day if not more.
Please Note:  If you make your own baby food, you need to aware of nitrates.  There are certain foods that are naturally high in nitrates (dark leafy greens are the biggest culprit but also beets, broccoli) and some that are high in nitrates based upon the way they are grown and the soil they are grown in (surprisingly carrots – though buying organic helps).  The Wholesome Babyfood website can give guidance on this issue.  You want to avoid nitrates until the baby’s body is able to get rid of them on its own but some they recommend waiting until a year for the veggies with the highest levels (like spinach).  Nitrates cause blue baby syndrome.  In this country (the U.S.), almost all cases of blue baby are caused by baby consuming nitrate contaminated well water but the only non-well water cases have been from improperly stored spinach (nitrates increase over time, especially if not stored properly).
Happy cooking!



CSA Winter Vegetable Barley Chicken Soup

For many years, I was a member of a CSA (community supported agriculture) in my area.  Basically, you pay a subscription fee up front to help the farm cover the cost of seeds, etc. and in return, you get a box of fresh from the farm fruits and veggies throughout the summer and fall.  Recently, I found a farm near my office (Snipes Farm in Bucks County) that does a winter CSA.  And the best part is, you don’t have to subscribe to the whole season, you just let them know that you are coming, pay $30 and you get your box of winter goodies!  This week, my CSA share included beets, turnips, celeriac (celery root), potatoes, kohlrabi (like a mild radish), tatsoi (an asian green), butternut squash, cabbage, end of season apples, and a half gallon of apple cider.

I happen to love beets.  Those bad boys will get roasted and eaten in no time.  I also puree and freeze beets and sneak it into things like pasta sauce, tacos, etc.  Cider, no brainer…mulled cider (pre-mixed mulling spices from Trader Joe’s).  I picked up some baby spinach at the supermarket to mix with the tatsoi for salads, easy. Butternut squash and apples became a big batch of “C”‘s favorite applesauce (recipe to come in a future post about my baby-food-making journey).  Maybe I’ll take another stab at sourkrout with the cabbage.  I’ve tried it before, one time successfully, one time not so much.

Ok, what to do with the rest?  I happen to be a soup freak.  I love it.  I make it all the time.  I eat it throughout the summer when everyone else is eating crisp salads and sipping lemonade.  Soup is also a great way to use up things that are in your fridge, freezer and pantry.  So this is what I came up with.  And I have to say, it was quite good!!  “C” ate a big person size bowl full of it for dinner with an “mmm” after every bite!  It even got my husband’s approval.  🙂

Winter Vegetable Barley Chicken Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pureed garlic (I use jarred)
  • 1/2 cup diced celeriac
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced turnips
  • 1 cup diced kohlrabi
  • 1 cut diced potatoes
  • 3/4 cup uncooked barley
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pre-cooked chicken breast, diced (I had previously roasted the chicken, simply seasoned with salt and herbes de provence)
  • Salt to taste

In a big stock pot, on medium heat, saute the vegetables in olive oil until the begin to soften, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the pureed garlic, then add the vegetable broth, tomato paste and barley.  Allow it to cook for about 5 minutes, then turn heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes or until all veggies are tender and the barley has puffed up.  Toss in the chicken and let it heat through. Taste and then salt, if necessary (my veggie broth was low-sodium so some salt was needed).

Note:  I HATE fennel seed.  Which means I normally hate herbes de provence.  So, I make my own mix and leave out the fennel seed.  Equal parts basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, savory, and marjoram.  I make a big batch and store it in the spice cabinet.



Who am I and why do you care what I have to say?

Welcome to my very first blog entry!  I have been thinking about blogging for a long time but have always come up with an excuse…I wouldn’t know what to say, who would read it, who has time for blogging anyway???  I finally decided that I ALWAYS have something to say, who cares if no one reads it, and if I have time to search Pinterest for an hour every night, I have time to blog.

So, who am I?  I’m a 30-something, wife, mom, attorney and homemaker-extraordinaire-wanna-be.  I live with my husband and darling daughter “C” in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia.  Sometimes I feel like I am trying to do it all and not doing anything well.  There have been times in my life where I’ve been uber-focused on my job, times where I’ve been obsessed with my baby (I have spent more time thinking about what”C” is going to eat, wear and do than anyone ever should…), times where I have been vigilant about natural living, times where I have been super-crafty and times where I have been really consistent with eating well and working out.  The problem is that I have never been able to do all of these things at the same time.  I need to find BALANCE in this crazy world!  I want to create a happy, healthy environment for my family while being a good employee and even finding a little time for myself.

The purpose of this blog is to document my quest for a well-rounded, natural life and to share the tips and tricks I pick up along the way.  I hope that someone out there can learn from experiences!