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Archive for the ‘Kitchen Witchery’ Category

 

 
Blueberry oatmeal

Before the days of those cute little baby food jars, every mommy made their own baby food.  In a nutshell it is mashed up/pureed adult food.  That said there are obviously foods you want to avoid giving your baby, such as honey, cow’s milk, nuts, peanut butter or anything hard or with a jelly-like consistency.  There are many resources on the web which tell what foods are age-appropriate.   Making your own baby food is really not as daunting as it sounds. 

I always go with organic. There are a lot of resources on the internet about the myriad of “acceptable” pesticide, hormone and antibiotic levels in our fruits, veggies and meats.  I won’t delve into that here.  Do a little research.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t know that these things are acceptable (according to the FDA) in infant foods and formulas. 

That being said, consumers have gotten much wiser and have demanded more organic options, thus there are more readily available organic baby foods and formulas.  When my first child was a baby, organic formulas had just hit the market.  I was thrilled.  I had to order them and have it shipped to my door, but whatever.  I had the option.  Now you can walk into any grocery store and find one or two different choices.  Yay! 

Fresh is always best, but if you have to, go with frozen vegetables over canned.  The sodium content in canned veggies is unreal.  I was eyeballing some green beans the other day and the canned green beans had 390 mg of sodium per serving, the frozen had none. 

You don’t need any fancy equipment. A food processor, a really good blender or one of those hand held baby food grinders will all work great.  Some foods, such as bananas, can be mashed with a fork.  For a really good puree, though, I love  a good blender. 

You also need something to put your pureed creations in.  Ice cube trays work well.  There are also specific trays and containers made and available on the market for baby food.   Breast milk storage bags are also another good option.  Always check to see that whatever you use says “BPA-free” somewhere on the packaging.  BPA (Bisphenol A) is definitely something to be aware of, so I have included a link to more on the subject. 

Ideally food is best when it is fresh.  So if you have the time to make your baby’s meals fresh every day, then go for it.  I, however, like to make a large batch and freeze it.  It can keep quite a long time if stored properly.  But if you’ve just made a lovely meal for the rest of your family, there’s no reason why baby cannot enjoy the meal, too.  Just pick some portions out and puree.  Instant baby food. 

When I make batches of baby food, I usually puree say a bag of apples at a time, or a couple bunches of bananas at a time.  To keep bananas from browning, you can add a little organic lemon juice.   Some things you will find you have to add a little water to, others (pears for example) have sufficient water content and puree up nicely without being too thick. 

Now I have heard of people pureeing certain things raw,  such as apples.  I personally like to peel and slice them (being certain not to get any of the seeds), put them in the steamer basket and soften them up before pureeing.  So I guess you could called them “cooked.”  This is the way I’ve always done it.  Bananas, however, I like to just mash them up fresh.  You can get them quite smooth just by mashing them with a large fork.  I just like them better like this rather than freezing them, although freezing them is entirely possible and instructions for helping with browning can be found above.  Really ripe pears are another one that I have mashed without cooking them. 

I purchased some organic bananas at the market the other day for $.89/lb.  Considering one 2 oz jar of organic pureed bananas costs $.57, it can end up being quite the money-saver.   You can also mix fruits and veggies, such as banana apple or sweet potato carrot. 

What about meats?   Meats can be pureed just like fruits and vegetables can.   Always make sure that any meats that you prepare for your baby are properly cooked.  I like to use the slow cooker/crock pot.  I also only buy organic meats.  You may want to add some fruits to make it more palatable for your baby.   For example, I added some pureed apples to my chicken and vegetable medley.  

Chicken and vegetable medley before being pureed

 

After being pureed and poured into BPA-free plastic containers. Ready for the freezer!

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So we had chicken quesadillas the other night and the hubs thawed out an entire pack of chicken thighs and had some left over.  It really wasn’t enough to make another family meal, but it would do for lunch.   So I thought chicken salad might be yummy.

I cut up some green bell peppers, red bell peppers, celery, fresh cilantro, rosemary, dill and garlic (all fresh and organic doncha know 😉 )and tossed it all together:

Added in the chopped chicken (there was light and dark meat in there) and mixed all ingredients:

Then I added dijon mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste and gave it a good stir:

I tried a bite and YUM was it good!  Not bad for throwing a bunch of stuff together in a pinch!  I grabbed some whole wheat bread and remembered I also had a huge avocado in the fridge.  I sliced some up, laid it across the chicken salad, added some lettuce and voila! I wish I’d taken a picture of the final product but my battery died,  lol.  It was a gorgeous sandwich.  It would have been marvelous as a wrap, too.  The husband and I both had a delicious lunch, and it all started with a small amount of leftover chicken and me digging around in the kitchen to see what I had handy.  I think the whole process took 10 minutes.  The peppers and celery gave such a cool wonderful crunch to the salad and the fresh cilantro was heavenly.

Lunch anyone?

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Oh the many visions this term conjures up (Hah! Did you catch that? I said conjures! ) Pagans have embraced this term with growing popularity as of late, but with the economy in the state it’s in, many people are eating out less and eating in more (not just Pagans!). They are creating meals from scratch in an effort to save money and bring a sense of familial closeness. Many serious foodies would agree that magic happens in the kitchen. You’re using ingredients from nature, you’re ingesting them, you’re sustaining your family. With luck and a little skill, it ends up looking pretty and is healthy, too. See? Magic. While I admittedly do not particularly enjoy cooking (most of the time), I do enjoy eating. I readily admit to being a foodie and do like to try new things and create a satisfying meal from a bunch of single ingredients.   Stay tuned to see what I come up with…

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