Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stage 1 Squash for the Bossy Baby and Storing Homemade Baby Food

Little Miss is growing up and she has been very interested in what we are eating lately, however she barely has one tooth and a lot of diet restrictions so we had to make her something appropriate for babies.  The problem with MPSI babies is that their tummies are very sensitive.  The doctor suggested starting with squash.  So we have.  I burned my first batch of squash so I did buy her some organic baby food to hold her over until I had time to make a new batch.  It's not like the vegetable baby food is all that horrible, not like the nasty meat products anyway.  However I have issues with processed food and like food to be as fresh as possible.  Also I took a food science class and the instructor told us how many bug parts were allowed in canned baby food and that the companies often bought fruits and vegetables that were starting to go bad because they were cheaper and because they were softer which made them easier to turn into baby food.  That kind of stuck with me.  Here baby girl... how's your fly wing... ewww.

Here is the recipe I used to make the squash.  She loves it and it really couldn't be easier.  I baked it while I was cleaning up after breakfast on Saturday, cooled it to room temperature, set out enough for 3 days, and froze the rest.  I didn't check how much this squash cost but I am estimating somewhere between a $1 and $1.50, however a friend of mine said I could have some out of her garden so you cannot get cheaper than free. Reminder... baby food (especially first stage baby food) does not get any added sugar, salt, or spices (spices can come later... but not yet).

First cut the squash in half and remove any seeds.

Really scrap down the sides where the seeds live.  I don't like any stringy stuff that looks like pumpkin guts in my food and I'm guessing if the baby had any clue she wouldn't like it either.

Next put the squash cut side down in a pan and fill with water until it just starts to creep up the sides.  This causes a roasting/steaming action to cook the squash really well and bring out its natural sweetness that the babies just love.

 Roast at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until easily pierced with a fork.  I also pulled mine out and squished it with the fork to see if it was easily mashed. 

Let the squash cool until you can comfortably handle it.  I had to attend to children and such so I let it cool until nap time so it was basically room temperature when I worked with it.  However do not leave the squash out unrefrigerated for long.  It's still food, treat it with the same type of care as you would adult food.... maybe even a little more care than you would with your own food. 

Scoop out the flesh and place it in your processor of choice.  I used the Kidco food mill thingy (very scientific name).

Now blend until you have a smooth consistency.... got it?  Now blend more.  This is stage 1 food so you really want it smooth and fairly thin.  I did not thin out her batch of sweet potatoes enough and she gagged on them.  I thought maybe she hated the flavor but I realize it was too thick for her to swallow.  Babies need to learn to eat these things.  Now stickers left on their legs by their older brothers?  They can eat those no problem but actual food takes a little time to adjust to.  I blended it until I thought it was smooth enough, then placed it in a bowl and added water and stirred until I thought it was almost there.  I then pushed it through a strainer to ensure there were no hidden chunks.

Once it was pushed through I scrapped it from the bottom of the little strainer as it likes to cling to the mesh.  I put it back into a bowl and continued adding water until it was just a hair thicker than I thought it should be so that if it thinned out during freezing I could add more water.  You can always thin, but you can't thicken without having to add something else.  Before you feed your baby whether it is straight from prep, the fridge or the freezer, always thin with water, breastmilk or formula whatever you are using to the consistency your baby can handle.  For stage 1 it should be pretty thin, it definitely should not be able to cling to the spoon yet.

Now set aside a few servings for the baby to eat over the next few days.  Baby food can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container, or freezer for up to 3 months. You will want to freeze some so have a plan because there is no way your baby is going to eat this much in 3 days at this stage.

Here is the batch before I finished thinning it.  That is $1 worth of squash versus $1 worth of baby food (bought on sale mind you).  When I finished thinning the food before I froze it, it actually made closer to 3 cups.  So that is about 24oz of squash versus 5 oz of squash.  Not bad and no bug parts.   To freeze simple place in ice cube trays.  I measured ours and they hold 2 tablespoons per cube.

We have a ridiculous freezer and they were frozen solid in less than 2 hours but freeze until you can remove them.  Then simple pop them out and put them in a labelled freezer bag.  Once you get going squash, sweet potato, peaches, and such are all pretty much going to look the same.

When it's time to eat simply take out a cube or as many as you need and either thaw in the refrigerator or heat straight from the cube, again check it is the right consistency.  Sit baby in chair and serve.... and maybe pay attention to what bib you have put on before you take a photo... it is August for goodness sake.