Sweet Potato & Peach Puree


This weekend was crazy. Chris didn’t arrive home from his new out-of-town job until 11 on Friday after being gone all week.  Mason and I were still recovering from the wicked stomach bug that hit us both about 48 hours after Chris left. And we had to be somewhere every second of the weekend. But at least I got 20 minutes with The Moms. That’s how the manager at Cranky’s, a cozy coffee shop in Long Island City, refers to the small group of us who congregate there every Sunday morning with our babes to drink coffee and chat. Today, one of my fave duos, Florence and Charlotte, were there. Charlotte is a month younger than Mason and absolutely gorgeous — large chocolaty eyes, silky dark hair, and a smile that melts your heart. Food came up — it always does — and Florence and I discussed which food Charlotte should try next. Peaches came up so naturally I thought of Sweet Potato-Peach Puree, one of Mason’s faves.


Sweet Potato-Peach Puree

Ingredients

2 organic sweet potatoes
1 bag frozen peaches, organic (10 ounces)
Cooking liquid

Directions

1. Wash, peel, and dice sweet potato. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Set aside.
2. Cook peaches until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain liquid and set aside.
3. Combine cooked sweet potatoes and peaches.  Puree and add cooking liquid as needed until you reach desired consistency.

Yield: 14 ounces, $6.09

*If the puree appears to be too thin, thicken it with plain organic yogurt before serving.


This combo is lovely because the peaches add a pleasurable layer of sweetness to the sweet potatoes, but not too much. When I feed the blend to Mason, he clearly loves it and I feel good knowing that the mixture is full of beta carotene (sweet potatoes) and Vitamin C (peaches), among other nutrients and vitamins. I can’t wait to hear what Charlotte thinks of Sweet Potato-Peach puree (if she tries it), or just peaches alone.

Does your babe like peaches? If so, do you serve them alone or mixed with something else?

Baby Mashed Potatoes & Peas


As a kid, my husband Chris was as ambivalent about his green veggies as Mason is. Green beans were a total deal breaker — still are today for the most part. Peas were a no-go until Chris’ grandfather taught him to hide the offending veggie on his fork under a pile of fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes. The combo was genius. From then on, the peas disappeared from Chris’ plate and I imagine dinnertime at the Shott household was a bit easier.

This past Saturday I tried a baby-friendly version on Mason (sorry, Mason, no butter or salt). I cooked and pureed a bag of organic frozen peas then diced and cooked organic Russet babies. A quick mix and the puree was ready. It tasted exactly as you might imagine — creamy, mild potatoes with the lightly sweet tang of peas. Not exactly gourmet but still tasty.


Mashed Potatoes & Peas

Ingredients:

1 10-ounce bag organic peas, frozen
2 organic Russet potatoes
Premixed formula

Directions:

1. Cook the peas until tender. Plunge in cold water for at least three minutes. Puree until smooth. Set aside.
2. Wash, peel, and dice the potatoes. Cook until tender. Rinse with cold water, then puree until smooth.
3. Combine potatoes and peas until well-mixed. Add formula as needed to get a smooth, creamy consistency.

Yield: 22 ounces for $4.54

So far I’ve gotten mixed reviews. Yesterday Mason gobbled the stuff up at lunch. Today he cried when I fed it to him. It’s hard to say whether our third attempt will be a hit or miss but the recipe is exciting for me either way. I got the opportunity to reinterpret a childhood favorite for Mason and it was fun to do. I imagined my husband getting that lesson from his grandfather as a little boy and I wondered what sort of things Mason’s grandfather will teach Mason when he gets older.

Have you come up with any recipes for your babe that are close to foods you liked as a child?

“Zucchini Bread” for Babes

Zucchini-Carrot Puree

I couldn’t stop thinking about zucchini bread yesterday morning. It was a freezing March day, definitely not peak zucchini season in the northeast, but my craving for the dense, rich, raisin-studded goodness came from a wave of nostalgia. I had been thinking about Mason’s first birthday party, then about the day Mason was born (August 19). It was blisteringly hot outside and I was sitting in the waiting room of Beth Israel, about to have a C-Section, and all I could think about was food. I wanted my mother-in-law’s zucchini bread and a giant apple-cherry smoothie, and I wished and wished for it all to materialize. Of course my doctor wouldn’t let me eat or drink a thing and I couldn’t manage more than a few ice chips post surgery, so my fantasy never came to fruition.

I considered baking a loaf. We had some organic zucchini in the fridge and I could run to the store for everything else. Mason would probably have appreciated the outing. We had been up for hours and he was definitely over his Exersaucer, books, and everything else I presented as entertainment. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I had been craving zucchini bread that August day because Mason had an affinity for it too. If he liked the stuff as a fetus perhaps he would enjoy it now, even if it wasn’t tucked inside a sweet, cake-like bread. Perhaps zucchini could be a green veggie puree that Mason would love, maybe even crave.

Inspired, I ditched all thoughts of bread baking and got to work.

Zucchini — a rich source of folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C — is so mild that I decided to combine it with something more flavorful. Carrots, a powerhouse veggie of vitamins, minerals, and eyesight boosting beta carotene, were a great match. I started by washing and peeling the zucchini — the skins get rubbery when cooked, an unappetizing choking hazard, in my opinion. I diced, cooked, and pureed the stuff. It blended up lime-colored, mild and delicious. Then I stirred in a jar (to avoid excessive nitrates) of Earth’s Best carrots. Together, the veggies had a gentle carrot flavor, very simple and straightforward. The color was like orange crayon, not the fiery orange of carrots pureed straight. I was still hiding the green with a yellow veggie foil, but the puree was vitamin rich and yummy, success nonetheless. It reminded me of zucchini bread, but this one was for babes.

I made this new puree just in time for Mason’s Sunday lunch, and blessedly he gobbled it up. I hope your babe enjoys it too. Let me know — and please share your fun zucchini ideas!

Zucchini-Carrot Puree:

Ingredients

2 organic zucchini
1 4-ounce jar organic carrot baby food (I like Earth’s Best)
Pre-mixed formula or Greek yogurt

Directions

1. Peel the zucchini, dice, and cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Reserve cooking liquid.
2. Rinse zucchini with cold water to stop cooking. (This will also help retain bright green color.)
3. Blend until you reach desired consistency, very smooth and thin, akin to Stage 2 purees.
4. Combine zucchini puree and jar of carrots until well mixed.

Makes about 10 ounces of puree.

*Appropriate for babies 6 months

A Peachy Kind of Day

Cooked peaches, in a bit of cooking liquid, ready to be pureed

Ah, Friday — the gateway to two whole days of freedom. Bliss. Before the babe, my weekend adventures would begin as soon as the workday ended. I’d go to a fun wine bar downtown with friends, to parties in artsy Brooklyn lofts, or to a neighborhood restaurant for a cozy dinner. Other times I’d travel. Occasionally I’d spend the better part of the weekend lounging on the couch watching Top Chef or Million Dollar Listing marathons. Now that the babe is here, weekends are chaotic, unpredictable but more special than ever before. They’re all about Mason, at least until he goes to bed and then we enjoy a few hours to ourselves. Tonight after Mason went to bed, I felt like playing with a some fruit.

Pears and peaches are two of my favorites, and I want Mason to love them too. He’s already a huge fan of pears, but he hasn’t tried peaches yet. It’s not the season for peaches but frozen organic peaches are still rich in vitamin C so I picked up a bag last time I was at the store. It’s not pear season either but the market still has decent-looking organic pears (albiet crisp pears), so I picked up a few after work.  I cooked the fruits separately, blended each one into a very smooth puree, and then mixed them together with a spoon. The fruit was so tender after cooking that I needed very little water to get the right applesauce-like consistency. Combined, the flavors were very mellow and balanced but sweet enough to add a little pizazz to baby oatmeal or plain yogurt. Here’s to hoping Mason is as pleased with the blend as I am!

Peach-Pear Puree

The recipe*:

Ingredients

Organic peach
Organic pear
Cooking liquid

Directions

1. Peel the peach, if fresh. Steam until tender, around 15 minutes.
2. Peel the pear. Steam until tender, around 15 minutes.
3. Puree together or separately, using cooking liquid to reach your desired texture (think smooth, like applesauce).

*I’m a working mama so I always prepare extras to freeze. The three pears and three peaches that I cooked with tonight yielded 16 ounces of fruit puree.

What other yummy peach combos does your baby love?

1 Protein + 2 Veggies + 1 Fruit = 4 Meals

As a food editor I spend hours studying current food trends — which foods are the new superstars, how people are eating today vs. yesterday, and so on. Of course, not every trend is surprising. We all know that people are cutting back on what they spend these days so everyone is looking for creative, fun ways to cook inventive, delicious meals for less. Tonight I applied that same principle to what I was cooking for Mason. How could I take just a few organic ingredients and come up with several different yummy purees that were simple and nutritious?

For starters, I surveyed what we had on hand. The three organic sweet potatoes on the counter looked good. We had four organic Gala apples fresh from the, um, grocery store. Chicken was already thawed in the fridge so that was in. A solid, six-month-old-friendly protein. A hearty winter veggie. And a versatile fruit. I was set.

The first puree that I made was a no-brainer —  I’ve made it before, and it’s super easy:  Chicken and Sweet Potatoes.

Chicken-Sweet Potato-Apple Puree

Next I thought about the combination of food my hubby and I like to eat.  We like texture, contrasting flavors, fresh seasonal fruits and veggies. So I decided to add a little apple to the mix to create Chicken-Sweet Potato-Apple Puree. When combined, the apple added sweetness to the mix, while the sweet potato was smooth and mellow. And the chicken fit right in. Mason hasn’t tried this little number yet, but I assume he’ll like it. After all, he likes the three ingredients alone.
Sweet Potatoes and Apple Puree

From there I moved on to classic Sweet Potatoes and Apple. I wanted a blend that would be a  lovely balance of fruit and veggie. It would end my daily debate about whether Mason was getting an equal balance of the two, and there’s something so scrumptious about sweet potatoes topped with warmly spiced fall fruit. Mason’s variation wasn’t spiced, but it was equally good. I loved that it blended into a rich orange color– I used a bit more sweet potato than apple simply because that’s what I had on hand. Normally I’d do an equal balance of the two. I loved that the mixture was smooth and easy, with just a hint of sweetness. I loved that it was packed with beta carotene, vitamin C, and lots of other good stuff.

Chicken and Carrots

Three purees down but with some chicken left, I pulled out a couple of jars of carrot from the cupboard (remember, carrots have a high nitrate content so you shouldn’t make them on your own) and mixed up a Chicken and Carrot blend. Plain, straightforward,  nutritious. Mason won’t complain. He enjoys this combo, although it certainly doesn’t have the pizazz that the Chicken-Sweet Potato-Apple Puree does.

Not a bad night of cooking — and I ended up with 25 servings of baby food for about $12, including the carrots. How do you make the most of your kitchen staples when making your babe his/her food?

The recipes:

Chicken-Sweet Potato-Apple Puree

1/3 cup boiled, shredded chicken
1/2 cup cooked, diced apple
1/2 cup cooked, diced sweet potato
Water

1. Poach chicken for about 35 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Shred a cup’s worth, and set aside.
2. Steam 1-2 diced apples, depending on size, for about 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside 1/2 cup.
3. Steam a sweet potato for about 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside 1/2 cup.
4. Combine all three ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add cooking liquid or water until you reach your desired consistency. (Think smooth but without being watery.) Freeze extras for up to three months.

Sweet-Potato Apple Puree

1 sweet potato
1 apple

1. Dice apple, steam for about 15 minutes
2. Dice sweet potato, steam for about 15 minutes
3. Combine the two in a food processor or blender. Add cooking liquid or water. Blend until smooth. Freeze extras for up to three months.

Chicken and Carrots

2 chicken breasts
6 oz jarred baby carrots

1. Poach chicken for about 35 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Shred.
2. Combine chicken and 6 oz of carrots in a food processor or blender. Add cooking liquid or water and blend until your desired consistency. (Think pretty smooth without being watery.) Freeze extras for up to three months.

*Appropriate for 6 months and older

Easy Pear-Banana Puree

I was running late this morning.  Mornings now come with a wrinkle or two, things happen that I can’t control. I’m a working mom of a six month old, after all. I finally got out the door only to discover it was pouring rain and my umbrella was broken. I raced to the subway station and reached the platform just as the train was leaving the station (after climbing four staircases to get there). Then my train stalled one stop before my office. At least I had my coffee — and miraculously I made it to the office just in time for the  early morning conference call I was hosting.

And it only got better from there.

Lunchtime came and my nanny texted me with stellar news: The Minty Peas were a success. Mason gobbled them up this afternoon, along with a healthy helping of Sweet Potato-Chicken Puree. Home run! Victory! Score one for Mom!

Now on to our next food adventure: Pear-Banana Puree.

And that takes us back to this morning, before it became clear my commute would be…harried. Mason and I got up at 6 and cuddled. I hugged my baby boy, kissed his cheeks, celebrated being home with him again. We played as I simultaneously got ready for work and whipped up 14 ounces of pear-banana puree.

This magical mix of fruit was simple to make.  The organic fruits were fresh and delicious. The pear was juicy and sweet. The banana was just ripe and luscious. Together this wholesome fruit made a slightly chunky golden puree that was subtly sweet and well balanced. It will be a delish way to add new flavors to Mason’s beloved morning oatmeal. I can hardly wait to see Mason’s reaction when he has his first taste — stay tuned!

Ingredients:

1 organic pear*
1 organic banana*

Directions:

1. Peel and slice pear into small chunks. Steam until soft (about 15 minutes). Reserve steaming liquid.
2. Puree pear with sliced banana. Add liquid to get desired consistency.

To add oatmeal, prepare baby oatmeal from a box. Stir in two ounces of the fruit mixture before serving.

*I’m a working mama so I always double or triple my recipes and freeze extras. This morning, I used two pears and two bananas to get 14 ounces.

Appropriate for 6  months and up

What are your favorite fruit combos for baby these days?

Apple-Banana Oatmeal

Mason is dismayed — his oatmeal is all gone!

Breakfast is so fun.  Unlike lunch and dinner — where the veggies might not be sweet enough (say, mommy tries to coax Mason to eat green beans instead of sweet potatoes) — breakfast is a sure thing. You see, Mason knows he’s going to get oatmeal. And he loves his oatmeal. Loves it. He’ll eat it plain. He’ll eat it warm or cold. He’ll eat it with apples. He’ll eat it with banana. But his fave way to eat it is with a warm mixture of apple and banana. By itself, the organic banana is sweet and delicious. The apple, a Gala variety, is juicy and crisp. Combined the fruit makes a serendipitous match and mixed with the oatmeal it’s pure bliss, at least from Mason’s point of view. 

Apple-Banana Oatmeal

Ingredients

1 Gala apple
1 organic banana
1/3 cup baby oatmeal

Directions

1. Peel and slice apple into small chunks. Steam until soft (about 15 minutes). Reserve steaming liquid. Rinse apples in cold water.
2. Puree apple with sliced banana. Add liquid to get desired consistency (think applesauce).
3. Prepare oatmeal. Stir in two ounces of the fruit mixture. Freeze the leftovers.

Appropriate for 6  months and up

What does your babe like to eat for breakfast?

Chicken 'n' Sweet Potatoes


Chicken and Sweet Potato Puree

Best for Babies 6+ Months Old

At Mason’s six-month check-up on Tuesday, our pediatrician said to start experimenting with new textures and flavors. I was thrilled. No more boring one-veggie/fruit purees — this would be the beginning of savory veggie-meat blends, sweet fruity mixes, and so much more!

That night after work, I whipped up a batch of sweet potatoes combined with chicken. I decided to give Mason his first taste of the stuff for lunch today — hoping it would be better than our recent avocado-banana fiasco.

As it turned out, I was in luck. Mason loved this classic combo.

On the advice of my mommy friend Karyn, I poached the organic chicken to retain moisture then pureed it. Poached chicken that’s been pureed looks, well, disgusting. And it’s bland, which is why I mixed it with one of Mason’s faves, sweet potatoes, keeping the texture pretty smooth (like you would see from Level 2 commercial baby food), and it actually looked yummy. I tasted it — I’ve vowed never to make Mason eat something that I wouldn’t — and it was surprisingly tasty. Good enough that if I ever found myself home alone with no desire to eat takeout and nothing in the fridge, I would microwave some for dinner. Seriously.

I buckled Mason into his Joovy high chair (I mention the brand because we love it — the whole thing can go in the dishwasher!!), fastened his plastic bib (the Best Invention Ever for babies eating solids), and fed Mason his first bite. The portrait of him smiling above is what I got. My heart melted. He made my day, and maybe I even made his with this deliciousness.
Ingredients:

Organic chicken
Organic sweet potato

Directions:

1. Trim fat from 1 package organic chicken breast.*
2. Poach chicken for about 30 minutes.
3. Rinse chicken in cool water, slice, and puree.
4. Peel, dice, and cook three sweet potatoes under tender.* Rinse with cold water.
5. Puree sweet potatoes with chicken. Blend until smooth.
6. Divide into 2-ounce portions. Cool. Refrigerate two portions, freeze the rest.

Appropriate for 6 months and up

*I’m a working mama, so I always make extras and freeze.

C’mon mamas and daddies, what’s your latest baby food victory?

Avocado-Banana Mashup

Avocado aftermath

Mason digs banana. Really digs banana. He thinks avocado is pretty cool too. So it only made sense to combine the two, right? Avocado = Omega 3s (brain food!), and that’s just for starters. Banana = potassium and a long list of other nutrients and vitamins. Super good stuff. Plus I knew of other babies who liked the blend.

I set up the baby food maker and chopped up the fruits. I mashed it all up, blended it together, and filled up my special little baby food containers. Most of it went into the freezer but one precious cube made its way into our fridge, ready for lunch the following day. I envisioned Mason gobbling it up, getting smarter, stronger, happier, healthier by the ounce. The thought made me giddy.

On my way out the door this morning, I instructed Chris (my hubby) to text me after lunch with all the deets of Mason’s first taste of his new superfood. “Take a photo! He’s gonna love it,” I said. Around lunchtime, Chris texted me to ask where Mason’s green veggie was for lunch. Exasperated, I explained where the stuff was. Again. Chris’ response? “Oh. Weird.” And then silence. I called. No answer. Then Outlook dinged to remind me that my afternoon meeting rush was starting. So I went on with my day.

I got home from work looking forward to tales of a happy baby with a full belly. Instead, I learned Mason had been peckish. “What about the avocado-banana mash,” I badgered. “Um, he liked it…there’s a little more in the fridge though,” Chris said. I flung open the fridge to find a half-full container. Whatever, I thought. Chris just wasn’t doing it right. I snatched up the container and coaxed my smiling, gurgling baby to take a bite. He shuddered slightly and gave me a look that said, “Huh?” That’s OK, I thought. It’s all new. Let’s take another bite. This time Mason gagged. Then he started screaming.

Damn. This is not what I had pictured. At all.

In retrospect, I don’t blame the kid. After all, my own impatience was to blame. I got home from work Wednesday night determined to go on a baby food-making bender. And I did, making chicken, sweet potatoes, my now infamous puree. So what if the avocado wasn’t quite ripe? It would be fine, I assured myself. But in fact, the blend had turned out grainy. Think brown mustard. Had I used an avocado as ripe as my very overripe banana, it would have blended up light and fluffy. So next time I’ll do it right.

What about all you mamas out there? Any of your mash ups get a little mixed up lately?