Keeping up the enthusiasm after that first month or two of weaning your baby onto solids is a challenge. By being adventurous at this early stage, your baby will be happier to continue trying new flavours as they grow up and they will therefore be more likely to have a varied, more balanced diet and a positive relationship with food. It also means that mealtimes are stress free with less need for cajoling, bribery and aeroplane dances with loaded spoons around the table.
Rather than continually serving up the same mush, or resorting to packet pouches or jarred equivalents, we opted for buying fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, then cooking and blitzing them in batches to produce multiple portions that can be popped into the freezer for use another day. Not only was this nutritionally superior, but also convenient and definitely more cost-effective.
The most valuable piece of equipment we purchased was an Annabel Karmel food cube tray and it was worth every penny as we are still using it now over a year later. There is immense satisfaction in knowing that you have a selection of different pureed fruits and vegetables in clever little portions at the ready in the freezer at any time.
We started with vegetables rather fruits, in a vague effort to delay the sweet tooth from developing too quickly, blitzed with some milk. We introduced a touch of butter or a few drips of olive oil to add a bit of flavour to the individual vegetables and then progressed onto some crème fraiche, cream cheese, or a little cheddar for interest.
Combining vegetables with a few other ingredients to jazz up the flavours was when it became more fun. I have listed below some of our most successful combination purees:
- Sweet potato and butternut squash, peeled, cubed and boiled with some sprigs of thyme. Remove the thyme before blitzing!
- Parsnips and carrots, peeled, chopped and boiled with a couple of sage leaves. Blitzed with crème fraiche
- Cauliflower, boiled or steamed, blitzed with crème fraiche, parsley and some grated cheddar
- Celeriac cubes, poached in milk with a bay leaf, and then blitzed. Again, removing the bay leaf first
- Peas, broad beans out of their shells, boiled then blitzed with crème fraiche and fresh mint
- Broccoli and new potatoes, boiled and then blitzed with spinach and cream cheese
- Red onions softened in butter, then simmered with red lentils, garam masala and cubes of tomatoes in water until smooth
- Chickpeas, leek, aubergine and roasted garlic softened in a pan with butter and then simmered in water with turmeric before blitzing
- Avocado, finely chopped coriander, cream cheese and bit of olive oil, smooshed with a fork. Without a doubt the quickest, easiest, and my favourite. When at toddler age, add freshly ground black pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice over the top and a little super finely chopped red chilli, and serve on toast fingers as a yummy snack
A few of tips…
- Try to combine similar coloured vegetables and offer a rainbow of them. If you mix colours too much you usually end up with brown splodge which looks pretty dull
- When boiling vegetables, keep the water to a minimum and then keep the liquid as it is rich in vitamins. This water can then be used to loosen the puree when blitzing to the desired texture
- Don’t over boil the vegetables until mushy as they lose significant nutritional value
- When roasting the vegetables, do so on a medium heat so that the pieces cook through but don’t get too crispy on the edges. Drizzle with a little olive oil at the start to enhance the flavours
- If you are interested and enthusiastic, your baby is more likely to be also
Watch out for some fruity suggestions in the next post…