Baby food ~ steam cuisine
I was pretty determined when my children started solid food that I’d cook everything for them from scratch. I never eat ready-meals myself, so why would I subject my baby to them? I’d kept my daughter alive and thriving purely on my own milk for six months. The challenge was on to ensure the next ingredients that came her way were equally nutritious and free-range.
I loved stocking up the freezer with those first purees – there’s a real animal instinct of safety knowing that your cubs are provided for. As the weeks went on however, the reality of the time commitment kicked in. It’s amazing how quickly your stash of cubes goes down when they get a taste for the good stuff! To make my 100% home-cooked commitment more manageable, I got savvy with the steamer.
- I much prefer steaming to boiling vegetables as the layering saves you hob space and it doesn’t matter if you slightly over-cook the food as it won’t disintegrate or get water-logged.
- Carrot, celeriac, parsnip, sweet potato and broccoli are a good place to start. Load up your steamer with a different vegetable in each layer; you can then remove them one at a time as soon as they’re cooked.
- Puree with a stick blender, food processor or food mill while it’s still warm, adding a drop of water if needed.
- Freeze into single-portion, single-variety cubes in silicone trays. Small cubes work better – once you establish they aren’t allergic to each ingredient and their tummies grow, you can try out different combinations to keep things (relatively!) interesting.
- Transfer the cubes to freezer bags labelled with the variety and a date to free up the trays for more batches.
With both of my children, I intended to start with vegetable purees to get them used to solid food, as savoury can be a harder sell once they’re hooked on sweet fruit. In reality, I often gave them a bit of fruit puree after their savoury main, as we always have some homemade compote in the fridge to eat with yoghurt and granola for breakfast. Child no.1 to this day is rather suspicious of vegetables on their own, though she’ll eat any variety of fruit you can think of – maybe I should have held out a bit longer?!
Fruit face vs. vegetable face!