Just as our grown-up taste buds are programmed to enjoy glorious, nourishing foods from Mother Nature, so are our babies’! Babies have a hardwired fondness for sweet tastes from the moment they enter the world. Their first sweet stop? Mother’s milk. From there, usually sometime after six months, babies begin to eat “solids,” which gives us parents an opportunity to guide their taste buds in a way that will allow them to explore and experiment with a broad range of flavors. The goal? By showing them what true, natural flavor really is, babies have a chance to fall in love – on their own – with foods that love them back!
Although pre-made fruit purees, mashes and juices abound, there are other delicious ways to tempt our little ones while at the same time broadening their palates and helping them to discover savory, spicy, bitter and other kinds of tastes. And freshness, in and of itself, guarantees better flavor than anything we can find in a can or jar. Bottom line: The more flavor, the more your baby will fall in love.
Here below I’ve shared some homemade baby food purees (suitable for about nine months and older) that bring a lot of discovery into baby’s first bites. I’ve chosen carrots and roasted peppers as the base of these purees, as they still deliver the sweetness that Baby wants, yet in a more subtle way compared to fruits. By adding in fresh herbs such as thyme and coriander that have fragrant, distinctive flavors, as well as leeks, which have a more refined and sweet flavor than their cousin, the onion, Baby gets a chance to learn how to fall in love with whole, natural flavors the way nature intended, setting him or her on the path to enjoy these foods for life.
Enjoy your baby gourmand!
Yield: Approximately four 4-ounce servings
Total time: 15 minutes
- 8-10 thin organic carrots (~12 ounces), washed, tops/tips removed, halved, no peeling
- 1 tablespoon organic pasture butter
- White portion of 1 leek, washed, sliced in half lengthwise, then quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced widthwise
- 3 or 4 whole sprigs fresh thyme, stems discarded
- Prepare a steamer basket on stove and transfer carrots to basket. Cover and steam until carrots are fork-tender and soft enough to puree. Remove basket and discard remaining water from saucepan.
- Using same saucepan, warm butter over medium-high heat, then add leeks. Cook several minutes, softening leeks. Then roughly slice carrots and add to saucepan. Mix, allowing carrots to become coated with fat, another minute or so.
- Transfer carrots and leeks to food processor. Add thyme leaves. Puree until desired consistency, adding a few tablespoons of water if necessary.
- I choose not to peel carrots, as many nutrients and fiber are contained in outer skins.
- Your gorgeous baby puree may be stored in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
Yield: Approximately two 4-ounce servings
Total time: 45 minutes
- 4 large organic red bell peppers, tops removed, sliced in half lengthwise
- Extra virgin olive oil for coating
- Several sprigs fresh cilantro (coriander), stems removed, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a sheet pan/baking sheet with parchment paper. Place eight bell pepper halves on pan and drizzle with oil – use your hands to coat evenly. Use only enough oil to lightly coat.
- Place in oven and let cook for 45 minutes or until sides of pepper halves begin to turn crispy brown. Remove and allow to cool.
- When cool enough to handle, scrape away any seeds and blackened sections of peppers you wish not to use, as well as peel away skins.
- Roughly chop all halves and place in processor along with coriander. Puree until desired consistency.
- Your gorgeous baby puree may be stored in fridge for up to 3-5 days.
What grown-up flavors does your baby love? Share them in the comments section below!