Ruth's Blog

Avocado Is the Perfect First Baby Food | How To Select Prepare and Store Avocado Baby Food

Avocado are a great first food for baby

I have said it again and again on this site that an avocado is a great first baby food.  Not only is it easy to prepare, you simply have to slice open a ripe one and wash or puree with a bit of breast milk or formula, it is also crazy nutritious.  This original fun fruit, and yes, it is a fruit, is said to have all the nutrients one might need to survive.  It is a pretty powerful food! Avocados are an excellent source of unsaturated fatty acids and have a higher proportion of this “good” fat than any other fruit except for the olive.  It is a great source of fiber, folate, and vitamin K and touted for it brain development qualities.

Selecting Avocado

When selecting avocado look carefully for damage, which shows up as soft dark spots in the skin.  When picked up, an avocado should feel heavy for its size.  If you are not going to eat the avocado for a few days, select one that is firm but not rock hard and ripen it at home by setting it on your counter at room temperature for up to 6 days. Avocados are ripe when they yield to gentle pressure and feel soft all over.

Storing avocado

After ripened, store the avocado in the refrigerator in the vegetable crisper for up to two weeks.  Store cut avocados by leaving the skins on and keeping the pit in the uneaten portion.  You can brush the fruit with lemon juice (if your baby is old enough for citrus) to keep it from turning brown.  You CAN freeze avocado but the texture, once thawed, will be mushy.  If you are freezing mashed avocado (without any breast milk or formula added) your baby might not even notice the difference!

Avocado preparation ideas

Mash it

Scoop the ripe flesh out of the skin of the avocado and fork mash.  For a younger baby, you can puree it in blender or food processor, it won’t take long, and add a bit of formula or breast milk to thin to desired consistency and feed right away.

Add stuff

Try mashed avocado with banana, tofu, and cottage cheese to mix up the flavor and texture for your baby.  Of course, mashed avocado is a great addition to super porridge as your baby gets older.

Spread it

Mash and spread avocado as a “vegetable” spread. Use spread for the entire family as a mini dip for vegetables or as the secret ingredient of a fantastic sandwich.

Avocado Smoothie

Avocado is becoming a much loved ingredient for smoothies.  It gives the drink a creamy texture much in the same way yogurt might and of course, the nutrients are hard to beat.

The nice folks at Babble.com share 10 smoothie recipes featuring avocado.  Avocado can be mixed with fruits including: blueberries, peaches, raspberries, pineapple, and cucumber.  Spinach makes an appearance in these smoothies as well as chocolate!

Grow your own avocado plant

You can not open an avocado without having to maneuver around that huge seed!  Did you know that the seed WILL grow into an avocado plant?  Chances of the plant bearing fruit is pretty uncertain and could take years, however the plant itself is quite nice looking.  I have some detailed instructions in the latest version of Super Baby Food that tell how to grow an avocado plant.  For a quick look at what a growing avocado plant might look like check out La Femme BEEBO blog that features a great picture of a growing avocado plant from the seed.

I would love to hear how YOU have added avocado to your baby’s diet.  Share your ideas here.

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All About Spinach: Spinach Baby Food Puree, Spinach baby Food Preparation, Spinach Baby Food Storage and Selection

Popeye was right, spinach is good for you.

Greens are all the rage and with good reason, they are so darn good for you and for your baby.  Spinach is a super green that packs a nutritional punch, it is loaded with calcium, vitamin A and iron among other nutrients.

What you should know about homemade spinach baby food

Baby must be at least 9 months old to eat cooked greens, 10 months old for finely chopped raw greens. A young baby (0 -6 months) can not handle the nitrates found in spinach and other leafy greens. Spinach is one of the EWG’s Dirty dozen as well so buy organic!

Selecting and storing spinach for baby food

Buy organic spinach leaves that are loose and not in plastic bags, if at all possible.  Leaves should be young and tender with no thick veins, bright green, crisp and not wilted, insect-free, and have no bruises, decaying spots, or slime.  Rush home from the market and cook and freeze greens the second you walk in the door. If you must store them first, wrap them in white paper towels and place in organic, bleach-free wax paper-lined plastic bags in a cold part of the refrigerator or vegetable crisper.  Use them fast, within a day or two.

Preparing spinach baby food

Examine the spinach leaves and discard leaves with a lot of yellow or decay.  Trim any thick stems or small blemishes before cooking.  To remove any leftover sand, try placing the leaves in a large bowl filled with luke warm water so any sand falls to the bottom of the bowl.  Fish out the leaves and place them in a new bowl that is filled with cold water for one more rinse.  Coasely chop cleaned leaves, if desired.

Steam the spinach leaves in a covered container for about 5 minutes for whole leaves, 3 minutes for chopped leaves.  Steaming in an uncovered container will reduce the strong flavor of the greens but might also mean the escape of nutrients. Drain the steamed leaves, reserving the cooking liquid to be used for pureeing.

Parents.com has a great post with pictures of cooking a pureeing  spinach baby food.

Place steamed greens in a blender or food processor with a bit of the reserved liquid.  Place pureed baby food in a stainless steel cube tray and freeze for later use or storage using the Food Cube Method.

Other spinach baby food meal options

Spinach has a strong flavor as do many nutrient-filled greens.  Adding spinach to other great foods is a terrific way to make it more palatable for your baby.  Mixing pureed, cooked spinach with banana, sweet potato, oatmeal super porridge are just a few ways of masking spinach’s strong flavor. Adding cooked or raw spinach, when baby is old enough, into a smoothie concoction is another great way to serve spinach and its good for Mommy too!

Spinach Fun Facts

In addition to spinach being so nutritious, did you know that spinach can be terrific for your skin?   According to this post by Care2.com, eating spinach can leave you with a glowing completion on the outside as well as healthy on the inside.  This post lists 8 great benefits from eating spinach!

Have you experimented with spinach baby food?  Any tips on preparing, storing, or serving spinach baby food that you would like to share?

 

 

 

 

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Feeding Baby is About More Than Just Baby Food | Feeding Helps Baby’s Development

Feeding baby is about more than just baby food

If you are a fan of Super Baby Food you know that feeding your baby and toddler is not simply for nutrition but also for supporting development, learning, and bonding with Mom and Dad.  In addition to the signs of readiness that must be present to begin “solid” food, there are some additional “fun” guidelines for when you get started feeding solid foods, too.  One of my favorites, “Do Play with Your Food,’ allows parents and caregivers to “let go” a bit at feeding time allowing baby to develop, explore, and discover on his own in addition to adding to his nutrition.  In this post, I elaborate on the “Do Play With Your Food” directive  AND include a fun recipe that illustrates the point – “Canoes for Riding the Rapids” featuring banana, tofu, ground seeds, and wheat germ.

DO Play with Your Food

Babies are messy eaters. It is perfectly normal for a baby to dip his fingers into bowls of food, suck his fingers and fist, squeeze and smear food onto his face and the tray with his palm and fingers, mash it into his hair, spit it out or let it drool down his chin, blow it at you or on the wall, throw it on the floor along with cups and bowls, and spill his drinks. Be assured that to everything, there is a learning purpose. Your baby is not doing these things to provoke you—he is experimenting and learning about his environment and the texture and feel of his food. She explores her food just as she explores her toys. Restrain your impulse to be neat and encourage self-feeding. Your baby doesn’t need Miss Manners’ approval.

The right recipe can make eating and learning fun

Try this recipe for your older baby (>1 year) or toddler and watch as he discovers and learns all while eating great food!

Canoes for Riding the Rapids

A slightly curved, shorter banana is good for this recipe. Wash the outside of a banana. Make a vertical slit down one side of the unpeeled banana leaving about 1⁄2 inch uncut at each end. If the banana is curved, make the slit on the “upside” so that it’s shaped like a canoe. Open slit and carefully scoop out the flesh.

Fork-mash half of the banana and mix with 1⁄2 cup of mashed tofu, 2 tablespoons of ground seeds, 1 tablespoon of wheat germ, and honey to taste. Spread banana peel open gently and make bottom of canoe flat by pressing with fingers so that it will be stable, being careful not to rip ends.

Return mixture to inside of banana. You can trim around the slit with a sharp knife to make the opening wider.

Use the other half of the banana flesh to shape fish and rocks, roll in wheat germ, and place them around the canoe. These “dangerous” rocks must be avoided to prevent the canoe from breaking apart.

Make oars out of carrot or celery sticks.

Please feel free to add your own recipes that allow baby to play with his food!

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Probiotics for Beginning Eaters Including Yogurt with Active Cultures

organic yogurt with blueberryProbiotics for Beginning Eaters

Yogurt with Active Cultures

When it comes to yogurt, some experts recommend waiting until babies are 8 months old, others say yogurt is OK to introduce as early as 6 months. Ask your pediatrician for his opinion before you start feeding your baby yogurt.

When you do decide to begin yogurt as part of your baby’s diet, be sure to select yogurt with live probiotics by looking for words like “active yogurt cultures” or “healthy live bacteria cultures” on the label. Probiotics are absolutely necessary for a healthy immune system. These healthy, good bacteria keep the bad bacteria in your body in check. If the bad bacteria overtakes the good, all types of infections may occur, including the fungal infections thrush and candida.

The first probiotics in baby’s intestines come from mom’s vagina during birth or bacteria in the operating room during a cesarian section. Then baby gets additional probiotics from mom’s breast milk, formula, and the environment.

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Plain Organic Yogurt

Read the ingredients list on the label to make sure it is plain yogurt. Babies need fats, so buy the whole fat or low-fat varieties and not the non-fat type. You could also make your own yogurt by hand.  I have detailed instructions on how to make your own yogurt in the new edition of Super Baby Food.  A quick set of yogurt making instructions as well as pictures can be found on the TheFrugalGirl blog.

Greek yogurt is another choice.  It is thicker than regular yogurt and more appropriate for a Stage 2 eater. Before the advent of Greek yogurt, manufacturers would strain the whey from regular yogurt to make “yogurt cheese,” which is similar to Greek yogurt.

Yogurt – Flavor Your Own

Much of the “fruit” yogurt in supermarkets have gobs of unhealthy sugar and flavors added to them, even the yogurts that have healthy-looking pictures of fruit on their containers.

Ignore everything on the carton except the nutrition facts panel and the ingredients list, and this goes for all foods in packages at all stores, even health food stores. Flavor plain yogurt with the age-appropriate real fruit and veggies you freeze using the baby food freeze cube method.

TIP: Yogurt (and other light colored food) is a great food to have fun mixing food colors into, and I do mean food coloring, like the liquid from canned beets, turmeric, frozen berry juices. Let your child mix them together into yogurt for fun new colors and for learning color combinations.

Other Probiotics Food Choices

Examples of other foods that contain probiotics are kefir, sauerkraut and other fermented foods. All these foods in the supermarket might be fakes–they can contain only dead bacteria–including baby yogurts that are shelf stable. Buy only the foods that indicate that their probiotics are still alive and kicking, with your doc’s approval.

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Beets Are an Excellent Baby Food Choice | Choosing, Preparing and Storing Beets for Baby Food

beet root baby foodBeet Baby Food

Purple beets have such a lovely spring color.  I thought it would be nice to do an informative post on beet baby food – How to select the beets, how to prepare them, how to store them and why they are so gosh darn good for your baby.

How old to feed baby beets and why are beets so good for baby

The prevailing wisdom tell us baby must be 8- 10 months months old to eat cooked beats.  I say keep it safe and use the nine month mark as your guide.  Raw and grated beets, a bit more rare to feed baby, is for the 10-11 month old. Although beets are not one of EWG’s dirty dozen, there is a nitrate issue with beets.  By 9 month’s old however, that nitrate  risk is no longer an issue.  Beets are so darn healthy for baby (and you too!) because they contain calcium, potassium, Vitamin A and high fiber.  With such a great nutrition report card, I know you are excited to get started feeding beets to your baby.

The ins and outs of feeding your baby beets

Grated beets can be fed to your baby raw. Cooked beets are tasty and very colorful. They can be used as a decorative touch or even a food coloring in baby’s food. Beets do stain, so use a good bib when feeding your baby beets. Beet stains are impossible to get out of cloth, plastic surfaces and wood. Stool alert: Be aware that several hours after your baby eats beets, her stool will be quite red in color.

Choosing and Storing Beets 

Equivalents: 6 medium beets = 1 pound = 2 cups sliced.

In season: Available year round; peak June through October.

Choosing: Beets are sold with or without their green tops. The tops, called “beet greens,” should be fresh-looking, thin-ribbed, and deep green, with no brown or red edges, and with no trace of slime. If they are a little wilted, the flavor of the red root should not be affected because the greens rapidly deteriorate while the root remains good. Beet greens are edible.

Beets without their greens should have at least 1⁄2 inch of stem left on top and their bottom roots should be at least two inches long. The bulbous root should have a lush, deep red color and smooth, firm skin with no cuts or soft spots. Roots should have no scaly areas or circles on the top and they should be a nice round shape, not elongated.

Buy small to medium-sized beets, as large beets tend to be tough with inedible, woody cores.

Storing: As with other root vegetables, immediately remove the greens so that they do not pull moisture from the root. Leave an inch or two of stem on the root, or it will bleed during cooking. Store beets in the refrigerator wrapped in organic, bleach-free wax paper and then in a plastic bag for up to 10 days.

Preparing and cooking beets for baby food preparation

Preparation for cooking: Scrub well under cold-running water.

Steam: Wonderful for holding in nutrients but you need the time, it takes about 60 minutes!

Boil: Simmer whole beets for two hours. Peels will easily come off and juices will be better retained in whole beets.

Bake: Wash thoroughly, place on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 90 minutes to two hours—the larger the beets, the longer the baking time.

Peel and purée: After cooking beets, remove stems. If you wish, slip off peels under cold running water before puréeing.

Freezing: Use the Baby Food Cube Method or Tray-Freeze Method, and keep for up to 2 months.  Remember to store in a stainless steel ice cube tray and then store in a organic waxed paper lined plastic freezer bag.

For even more information, take a peek at Super Baby Food, 3rd edition. It includes a complete alphabetical list of fruits and vegetables with same information included as shown above!

 

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Amara Organic Dried Baby Food Apple and Banana Giveaway *Closed*

This Giveaway is Closed..Winners shown below.  Thanks for participating!

I am so lucky to be exposed to some terrific baby food products because of the writing of Super Baby Food.   One of those great products is Amara, an organic dried baby food product.  Busy moms are always looking for ways to feed on the go when necessary – for day trips or traveling or simply when in a pinch.  Amara organic food pouches are a convenient, clever way to feed baby organic food.  With this giveaway, Amara is offering five winners their apple and  banana baby food pouches.

Amara dried organic food is easy to prepare. Amara tells us, “Simply add breast milk, formula, or water and it’s ready for your baby to eat! Our lightweight pouch slips into your pocket or purse and is the perfect way to guarantee a wholesome meal for your baby without the hassle.”

You can learn more about Amara and the products they offer at their baby food link.

The Amara  giveaway will reward five winners each with both a banana and an apple serving. Giveaway begins today and ends March 20th at midnight…tell all your friends!  Winners must live in US  or Canada to be eligible to win!

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Vitamins Choices for Baby | Iron and vitamin D

Vitamin Supplements for Baby

My fans are the best…very smart and very hip. Recently, I was asked a question about suggestions for vitamin supplements for baby. As I write in Super Baby Food, I always suggest checking first with your pediatrician and here is why. There are very specific amounts of vitamin D, zinc, iron and other nutrients recommended for babies at certain ages by the American Pediatric Association.  I wrote about vitamin D and breastfeeding in a previous blog and want to mention how important iron supplements are for your baby too!

It is very important that your baby gets enough iron, but not too much. Too much can cause baby constipation and other problems. Iron is very important, though. Red blood cells need iron to transport oxygen throughout baby’s body for growth and development. Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in babies, which is why many commercial baby foods are fortified with it.

How can you be sure that your baby is getting enough iron?

The new mandatory Nutrition Facts Panel on packaged foods makes it easier to see just how much iron your baby is eating. Fresh homemade food does contain iron, but if your baby is eating all homemade baby food, and especially if your baby is a vegetarian, ask your pediatrician about over-the-counter supplemental iron drops.

Have you recently got a advice from your pediatrician on vitamin supplement drops for your baby?  Share with us!

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Super Baby Food Wins Awards | Five Book Giveaway | CLOSED 02/17/14

I know YOU love and trust Super Baby Food and YOUR stamp of approval is all I need. It is nice, however, to be recognized by the rest of the world.

Super Baby Food, 3rd edition has won the Gold Family Choice Award and the Gold Feathered Quill Award!

To celebrate the awards and Valentine’s day I am giving away 5 copies of the new edition.  Contest will end Feb 17th and is open to US and Canada residents.  Check back here for the winners on Monday!

This offer is now CLOSED. Thank you for all your wonderful comments. Winners have been contacted by email.

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Baby Food Preparation and Baby Food Safety Measures

Happy New year, Super Baby Food fans! It is a whole new year and you have decided to try making your own baby food. Good for you and your family!  You will soon learn that it is much easier than you thought to make organic, homemade, tasty baby food.  Before you get started, though, here are a few safety measures to keep in mind and put into practice when making your own baby food.  For those of you who already do make your own baby food, consider this a mini-refresher course.  Please add your own additional safety ideas and tips in the comment section.

Baby Food Preparation Safety TIps

  • Wash your hands…So simple, I know, but always the first step!  Wash, wash, wash!
  • Wash your produce – both fruits and vegetables – even if it is organic…wash, wash, wash.  As you may already know some fruits and vegetables are ‘dirtier” than others…Check out EWG’s dirty dozen and clean 15 for a refresher.
  • Thoroughly clean all food preparation surface areas and utensils with hot, soapy water – the counter surfaces, the high chair tray surface and all of your utensils and operating equipment, including blenders, food processors, etc. (For more information on high chair safety click on the link.)
  • Beware of bacteria! Moisture and warmth can equal bacterial growth! Yuck! To get food cooled as quickly as possible, store it in small and/or shallow containers (you know from the 3rd edition of Super Baby Food that I prefer glass or stainless steel containers)
  • Do not leave prepared baby food at room temperature for more than a few minutes. Serve it right away or freeze it for later use.
  • Thaw all foods in the refrigerator and never refreeze food that has been cooked then frozen and then thawed.

Baby Food Precautions

  • Baby food can be spoiled without necessarily smelling bad. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Any leftover homemade or commercial baby food or juice that has come in contact with your baby’s saliva must be discarded.
  • Commercial baby food jars (I know you are only using commercial baby food in a pinch;)) must “pop” when opened to insure the content’s freshness!
  • If commercial infant/baby/toddler cereal has been mixed with liquid, serve it immediately and discard the leftovers.

For many more safety tips on baby food preparation safety and baby food safety, be sure to check out the new edition of  Super Baby Food, now available on Smashwords!  There are  three chapters in an entire section of the book dedicated to safety. It is very important! Please share your own safety tips developed along the way with me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Super Snack Baby Food Ideas That Will Turn The Usual Baby Snack on Its Ear!

Baby Led Weaning

Super Snacks are an important part of the Super Baby Food diet.  Both in the morning and in the afternoon, super snacks (finger foods) can be fed to your older baby or toddler to maintain a balanced nutritional diet every day.

Just as breakfast, lunch, dinner, breast milk and/or formula meals are important, so too, is the importance of the super snack.  The common baby and toddler snack ideas are well known and include: cheerios, oatios, whole grain crackers, soft ripe pieces of fruits, etc.

Below are some out-of-the box super snack ideas that might turn your usual idea of “snack” for baby on its ear! Have you considered…

  • small tofu chunks
  • crumbled egg pieces, cooked solid or scrambled
  • well-cooked, small wheat pasta pieces
  • bits of well-cooked french toast
  • small lumps of cottage cheese, mixed with wheat germ, rolled in a ball
  • small pieces of soft cheese
  • Clean and cook vegetables until they are soft and cut into small pieces no larger than a Cheerio.
A list of additional snack ideas as well as what I like to call “Toddler Hors d’oeuvres” can be found in the latest edition of Super Baby Food.  Check the back on the blog for additional recipe ideas now and again. I will continue to post many of my favorites.

Have you come up with some super snack ideas that your baby loves?  Share them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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