I am an unrepentant foodie. Most of the television shows I watch are programs about food. I watch programs about how to cook the food, the people who cook the food, where they buy the food, how the food is different in other cities and countries, and the science that makes food do what it does. I buy cook books with compulsiveness of an addict, even going so far as to purchase instructive text books for culinary students. When we went to Europe, we visited the local food markets at every opportunity. I cook nearly all the meals in our house.
I like food.
If I like food so much, why should my son eat processed food pastes?
Logan started eating solid food recently, and while he seems more confused and curious about the experience than anything else, he dutifully eats his servings. I want my son to be healthy. I want him to have a fair chance of beating the odds against the diabetes epidemic that is sweeping our country. I want him to LIKE food.
So I make his baby food.
This is so much easier than it seems on the surface. About an hour of my time and $3 worth of produce can yield nearly 40 servings for the little fella. When I’ve completed the task, not only am I filled with the sense that I am having a positive impact on my son’s life during his most formative years, but I’m left wondering why anyone buys baby food.
First of all, it’s expensive. Even in bulk it can cost more than a dollar a jar for baby food, leaving me to believe that most of the purchase cost is subsidizing the miniature glass jar industry. The food in those jars has typically been processed to a high degree, and while it increasingly includes organic ingredients, the provenience of these fruits and vegetables is unclear. Where did that food come from? What shape was it in before being sent through a mass production process watched over by robots more interested in preserving profit than the health of the customers? And what of those preservatives? What is the long term impact of ingesting calcium benzoate or sodium metabisulphite?
So, I make my own baby food. Following is the recipe I used for sweet potatoes. You can use the same recipe and preparation method for virtually any vegetable, the only difference being the amount of time needed to steam the product. Some vegetables, like the delicious and nutritious avocado, don’t need to be steamed at all. If you don’t have a steam basket, buy one, they’re super cheap and it will last you decades.
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 1 1/4 cup of water
Peel the sweet potatoes and then cut into 3/4″ to 1″ cubes.
Place in a steam basket, making sure the water doesn’t rise into the basket. Steam for 20 minutes.
Add the water and steamed sweet potatoes to a blender, and blend until smooth. It won’t take long. I’m using a Blendtec blender, because I have one, and they are awesome. Realistically, once steamed the sweet potatoes are tender enough you could probably blend them with a fork.
While you’re waiting for the mixture to cool a bit, scoop some out and make yourself a snack. Here I’ve added a little butter, some cinnamon and maple syrup. It’s delicious and the perfect reward for doing the right thing for your child.
Once you’ve had your snack, the mixture is probably cool enough to prep. Line a baking tray with waxed paper and scoop out little portions in neat rows. I’m aiming for 2 teaspoons, and so I’m using a #60 scoop because it’s easy to use. You could use teaspoons, serving spoons or a garden spade, it really depends on how big your baby is.
I’m also using quarter sheet pans because they fit in my freezer just right. You can get either of these two important cookery tools at any commercial cooking supply store. Most sell to the public.
Pop the trays in the freezer and in about 20-30 minutes, you’ll have frozen little pucks of nutritious baby food. Peel them off the wax paper and pop them into a freezer bag for cold storage. They’ll last in the freezer for months. Probably longer. The three sweet potatoes I used yielded 36 baby servings and 2 adult servings and it cost me about $2.60.