Homemade baby food is the new playground for foodies. Not only does it encompass all the latest food trends like using seasonal, organic vegetables and ancient grains such as kamut and quinoa, but it also taps into our most primitive impulse: nourishing our children.
An article in Time magazine recently cautioned parents about an inconclusive, yet extremely frightening study, that warns about a chemical in premade baby food that might cause cancer. And according to The New York Times, baby food sales have dropped drastically since 2005. Not to mention that eating unprocessed, homemade baby food has been linked to having less food allergies later in life. Is this why busy moms and dads are now suddenly making their own?
Some parents make homemade baby food because they don't trust the colorless mush that comes in a jar. Others because frankly, paying upwards of $1 per jar is impossible when living on a tight budget. But the general consensus is that making your own baby food is the best way to feed your baby a healthy diet.
When we, as parents, are able to control exactly what goes into our baby's lunches and dinners, we generally feel more reassured in our parenting and the fact that we're doing the best we can for our children. That said, there are many of us who struggle with full time jobs, a long commute, and a myriad of meetings, leaving us with a total of 5 minutes to cuddle our babies when we get home. So sometimes, spending half an hour to make them a home cooked dinner is simply not an option. To parents in this situation, I say, feed your baby ready-made food, without the side serving of guilt.
But personally, I think making your own baby food is the best way to create a future food lover.
It's kind of cool to watch your baby chow down on a garlicky lamb and artichoke puree seasoned with fresh mint, or pig out on some spicy hummus. Talk about getting cred for raising a baby gourmet when your little one grows up to prefer a frittata instead of French fries. And when your friends' jaws drop after seeing this, you can smugly reply, "But of course my 1 year old loves quail egg omelets, why wouldn't he?" Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little; what sane child wouldn't go for the fries?
As a young mother, I like knowing what my baby is eating. I want to be sure that he's getting a balanced diet, including meat, fish, chicken, and lots of fruits and vegetables. But I also like testing my baby's boundaries to find out how far his mini taste buds can be pushed. I like to think that feeding my child interesting flavor combinations and textures will shape him into an adult who appreciates food. With every slightly spicy spoonful or piece of stinky blue cheese that I feed him, I imagine that I'm creating a child, and later an adult, who will savor and enjoy food with the same passion as I do. After all, what mother wouldn't be proud of having raised a future foodie?
If you're looking for a recipe to tickle your baby's taste buds, try this:
Lamb Couscous for Baby (9 months+)
2 tablespoons lamb
2 artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
1 small carrot, cut into small pieces
1/2 turnip, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons cooked couscous
2 fresh mint leaves, washed well
A small dash of powdered garlic
A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
In a steamer, cook the lamb, artichokes, carrot and turnip for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft enough to mash with a fork and the meat is cooked through.
Transfer the cooked vegetables and lamb to a large bowl (if you're using a hand mixer) or directly into the blender. Add the chickpeas, mint leaves, garlic and olive oil. Blend until you have a smooth puree. Add the cooked couscous, and then stir well with a spoon until incorporated.
This recipe is so good that you'll be eating out of your baby's bowl.