Gourmand. A person who loves good food (and occasionally enjoys it too much) — one who is flavor-obsessed, often dreaming about what to make for dinner while enjoying her lunch. Yup, guilty as charged, and it probably comes as no surprise that I’ve been impatiently waiting for the month when Phoebe could move past milk and start experiencing the pleasure of real food and the vast culinary world of tastes and smells. Several of y’all have left comments asking about whether I make Phoebe’s food and what she likes to eat, and now that she’s 10-months-old, she’s enjoying enough of a variety of flavors that I thought I’d finally share some of her favorites. Carrie came over one morning last month to capture one of our “cooking” sessions together.
I decided early on that I wanted to teach Phoebe that meals are for making and then eating together, and vegetables are really something to get excited about (seriously, they are.) Usually, I pull up her highchair next to the counter so she can see the action, and I describe exactly what I’m doing as she watches. Whenever I start chopping a new fruit, vegetable or grain, I give her a taste so she can learn to identify each flavor with its source (since it’ll ultimately be puréed with a mix of other things.) Besides, grazing while cooking is always more fun, right?
On this particular morning, I was working on one of Phoebe’s faves: avocado, pineapple, banana and yogurt “pudding.” I love storing her food in these weck jars if I’m keeping in the fridge, but if I’m storing anything longer than a couple days, I pop it into these Béaba Multiportion trays and place in the freezer so I always have something healthy ready-to-go at a moment’s notice.
What does Phoebe like? Well, so far, pretty much everything. I know, I know, some kids are naturally more picky than others, but one thing I’ve tried to do since she first started eating purées (at 6 months) is to give her a chance to try flavors multiple times even if she doesn’t like them at first. The first time she tried avocado, she squished up her face and refused to take another bite. But I tried feeding it to her again a few days later with a touch of salt and lime juice (baby guacamole!) and guess what? Loved it. Ditto with chicken, white beans and banana. Sometimes kids just need a few tries before they get used to a new flavor and acquire a taste for it, you know?
A friend gave me one of those awesome Baby Cook food makers, but I’ve ended up using my Vitamix blender to make pretty much all her food. Usually I have it out on the counter after my morning smoothie anyway, so it’s just easier. When I’m roasting vegetables for Adam and me, I always make extra so I can throw them in the blender to make a purée for Phoebe. A little rotisserie chicken left over from our tacos? Into the blender they go. I try to introduce a few interesting spices at a time so that she doesn’t become accustomed to bland food, like cinnamon with sweet potatoes, or cumin with roasted chicken.
My friends Morgan and Carrie design these darling monogrammed melamine plates, which make P’s mealtimes a little more colorful, and most importantly, unbreakable. I’ve run them through the dishwasher countless times and they haven’t lost any of their luster. Other mealtime essentials? Tons of simple white bibs, pink sippy cups for water and these Beaba spoons.
Phoebe and I inevitably end up eating a different version of the same flavors. On this morning, I threw slices of avocado, blueberries, banana and kale into the blender with coconut water for my own breakfast smoothie.
And now, for our current favorite flavor combinations… These are all packed full of nutrients and interesting flavors to get Phoebe’s taste buds working. Oh, and a note on organics: I honestly wasn’t that into buying organic produce before I got pregnant, but I did some research and learned how much more intensely babies experience harmful pesticides and decided to make the switch. I know, organic produce can be crazy expensive, so if you’re still on the fence, think about at least buying the “Dirty Dozen” organic — doing just that has been shown to reduce exposure to pesticides by more than 80%.
For each of these “recipes,” the technique is basically the same. Wash, peel and chop the produce, then either cook or use raw as noted below. If I’ve called for a vegetable to be roasted, spread 1″ pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes until tender and caramelized. Most of these purées require a little liquid to get them smooth – add water to the blender a little at a time until the mixture is the consistency you’re looking for (older babies can tolerate chunkier food.) You’ll notice that I don’t list amounts: this isn’t the time to worry about being overly exact. Just play with the proportions until it tastes good!
- Popeye Mix: Blueberries + Apricot Slices + Raw Spinach. Add a touch of agave syrup if the fruit isn’t super ripe.
- Squash ‘n Grains: Roasted Butternut Squash + Cooked Quinoa + a pinch of kosher salt and cinnamon.
- Sweet Pea Hummus: Frozen Peas (thawed) + 1/2 clove peeled Garlic + Tahini + squeeze of Lemon Juice + pinch of Salt & Cumin.
- White Bean Purée: Cannellini Beans (from a can, rinsed & drained) + 1/2 clove peeled Garlic + Lemon Juice + a few leaves Italian Parsley + Olive Oil + pinch of Salt & Black Pepper.
- Tropical Avocado Pudding: Banana + Avocado + Pineapple + Whole Milk Plain Yogurt.
- Figgy Pudding: Chopped Figs + Roasted Pears (peel first) + Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice + a touch of maple syrup.
- Green Machine: Kale + Peach Slices (peeled) + Whole Milk Plain Yogurt + a squeeze of agave.
- Just Beet It: Roasted Beets + Cooked Farro + Goat Milk Yogurt + a pinch of salt & squeeze of agave.
*photos: Sweet Louise Photography