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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.Pin It
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.
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?
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!Pin It
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.
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.
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!
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.
Have you come up with some super snack ideas that your baby loves? Share them!
Spirulina is a nutritional enhancer that can be added to baby food (and adult food) and adds super nutrition to any meal. It is a blue green algae that springs from warm, fresh water bodies. This sounds exotic, but was is really exotic is what it can do for your baby and for you! Spirulina is a terrific source of protein, reinforces the immune system, protects folks from cancer, contains GLA, an essential fatty acid that is found only in mother’s milk and is a fabulous source of vitamin B and B complex to boot.
It is very easy to add spirulina to baby food and adult meals, simply sprinkle into your recipe and let the nutritional benefits abound. For baby, at about 6 months (ask your pediatrician, of course), start with just 1/4-1/2 teaspoon stirred into pureed foods, cereal and/or smoothies! For adults, try 1 to 2 teaspoons a day. Spirulina powder, like as found at GNC (Spiru-Tein) is also a popular way for adults to add spirulina to their diets! Just add one scoop and you are ready to go.
As if the nutritional benefits were not enough to get you excited about adding spirulina to your diet, I found an article by terranut.com that extols the following benefits of Spirulina, you can read the entire article at the link.
Terranut tells us that spirulina benefits include:
1 Cleansing: Spirulina promotes the body natural cleansing processes. You feel fitter, more cheerful, and you have more energy.
2. Restoring: Spirulina compensates for deficiencies in the diet and stimulates the metabolism. Your physical condition improves noticeably and you recover faster after exertion.
3. Fortifying: Spirulina boosts resistance and activates the body natural defense mechanisms. You feel stronger and are better able to cope with the pressures of everyday life.
Because of its cleansing, restoring and fortifying functions, Spirulina has a wide range of applications. It gives you new energy without taking pep-ups and makes you more alert and stable.
I know you are excited now! Who does not want to feel peppy and more alert and stable.
To feed spirulina to baby try combining:
1/4 Cup applesauce
1/2 tsp spirulina
1/2 mashed avocado
As you can guess by the above example, the possibilities for baby food recipes using spirulina are endless. Mamanatural.com posts a fantastic recipe for a tropical spirulina smoothie that she swears her picky baby loves! If you would like more example of adult spirulina recipes, I found a post by naturalhealthychoices.weebly.com that lists several great ones including Spirulina Salsa, Guacamole, and Vegetable spirulina Stir Fry.
Have you discovered any great spirulina baby food recipes? Share them!
Quinoa, a seed, is a complete protein perfect for baby food
In my last blog post I covered chia seeds, flaxseeds, and tahini (seasame seeds) and revealed how they may be prepared for baby food. I saved another seed for it’s own blog post becasue of the sheer overwhelming healthy, nutritive value of it…You might have guesssed I am talking about quinoa.
Quinoa, commonly referred to as a grain is actually a seed! It is a very special seed. Quinoa’s roots are Incan and its nutritive value, particularly its protein value is out of this world. It is considered a complete protein (all of the essential amino acids are represented and in correct proportions) and 1/2 cup will fulfill a child’s daily protein needs.
Quinoa fun facts:
- Quinoa is the seed of the Chenopdium or Goosefoot plant.
- Quinoa is pronounced “Keen-wah”
- Quinoa has a mild and slightly nutty flavor
- When quinoa is cooked whole it has the texture of couscus
- Beets, spinach, and swiss chard are all relatives of quinoa
- Quinoa varieties include pale seeds, red seeds, and black seeds
- Quinoa can be toasted, sprouted, grinded and then cooked or cooked whole.
For a baby, the healthy effects of eating quinoa are fantastic as you may have already guessed. I suggest grinding the quinoa to a powder, just as I suggest preparing super porridge brown rice cereal or super porridge oatmeal. Cook the powder (1 cup ungrounded) in two cups of boiling water, whisking throughout the cooking process to prevent lumps. As always, you may cook the quinoa whole and then blend to desired consistency for your 8 month old. Mixing the quinoa porridge with fruit, vegetables, or yogurt is always a good idea.
Unprepared quinoa should be stored in a cool dry place. Quinoa super porridge may be frozen. Moms have had some terrific results with freezing quinoa but the defrost time may be a longer than with super porridge. You may also prepare a few 1/2 cup batches and place in the fridge for a few days at a time. There are unlimited baby food recipes that you can create using Quinoa. Have you had any luck preparing quinoa for your baby? Share your recipe with me!
Dr Greene.com recently asked Ruth to be a special guest perspectives blogger on their informational website. Ruth was more than happy to provide 5 terrific blog posts sharing all kinds of great, detailed information on finger foods and tips for getting started with finger foods for babies and toddlers. In case you missed it, here is a description and a link to each fantastic blog post.
Super Baby Food is happy to be a part of the Dr. Greene team! Be sure to check out some of the other terrific information on Dr. Greene’s website.Pin It