Der Kleine Appetit - Part 1: Peas
When I was pregnant and Jeff and I established that I was going to be fortunate enough to stay home with Marlo, I decided I was going to make it as hard as possible for myself. No easy way out. I planned on breastfeeding, using cloth diapers, and making Marlo's food at home. Well, there's no such thing as a diaper service in Indianapolis, and there was no way I was going to scrape, scrub and bleach them myself all the live long day, so that went out the window as soon as it flew in. I'm proud that I was able to and continue to breastfeed Marlo. I felt like giving up in the first few months about 3 dozen times, but I stuck with it and we're doing good. Now that she's 6 months and starting to wean, I've been having fun making food for her. While it's not as easy as opening up a jar, and I have no idea if it's really all that much healthier for her, I feel good about feeding her something I made. I feel the same way when I cook for Jeff. We have lots of options for healthy and affordable take-out, but I find it deeply satisfying to create homemade meals for him. Cooking is by far a labor of love for me. I cook for you because I love you. I should've been born Italian.
Anyway - peas. I've found making baby vegetables a lot easier than making baby fruits. Before the peas yesterday, I attempted to make plums for Marlo. After staining clothes, towels and the countertop with plum juice, I managed to puree a sour, acidic, foamy mush that I could barely swallow let alone dare feed it to Marlo. So, she got a mushed up banana instead - much to her delight. I had much more luck with peas.
Marlo waiting patiently to try her new tasty bowl of mush. (She wasn't that patient.)
Use frozen peas. Canned ones are too salty and not as nutritious, and who are you kidding thinking you're going to shuck that many fresh peas. I just bought a 16 0z. bag of Meijer brand organic petite peas. Pour the peas in a saucepan and cover with water. Once boiling, I simmered the peas for about 8 minutes until they were tender. Drain the peas, reserving some of the cooking liquid to loosen up the puree if necessary.
I used my hand blender to puree in the pan, but you could also use a food processor or a food mill. I ended up adding about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to thin it out to a smoother consistency. This batch yieleded about seven 2 Tbsp. portions of peas, which for Marlo, is a week's worth of vegetables. Not bad for only about 15 minutes worth of work. Always freeze the excess puree. You can use ice cube trays, or special freezing containers called "Baby Cubes". Defrosting is a a cinch. I just plop the frozen cube of food in a small saucepan over low heat and heat through until piping hot. Of course, always cool to luke warm before feeding your baby.
It turns out that the puree was still a little too thick for Marlo. She gagged a little on the first bite, but nothing that mixing it with her cereal didn't fix.
This girl eats anything. She inhaled it. This feeding was a little more difficult than past feedings (note the amount of peas she ended up wearing), which may mean she didn't like the peas all that much, but the bowl was scraped clean, so peas are on the menu for the rest of the week!
For those of you with babies, or with babies on the way, I hope my experiences making baby foods will inspire you to try to do the same for your little one. My mother and my mother-in-law both purchased me Annabel Karmel baby food books for Christmas. They've got great basic instructions and ideas. I recommend First Meals and Top 100 Baby Purees.