This site is not going to become a baby food recipe site. I promise promise promise. It's just that...well, I tend to share a bit more of my personal life on instagram, and anytime I post a shot of what Camille is eating, you guys ask if you can come live with me. Full-grown adults ask if I can adopt them just so they can get a spoonful of Camille's eats! It's amazing.
The clamoring for baby food recipes has been heard, and I will answer it here. I will try not to answer it too often, for fear of scaring away those of who you come here for small cheesecakes, creme brûlée recipes that only fill 2 ramekins, and chocolate fixes for today not today plus 5 days. And, furthermore, whenever possible, I will cram multiple recipes into each post so that those of you sans bebe can get the big eye roll over with at once. (There was a time when I dreaded my favorite bloggers getting pregnant, because their blog morphed into a firsthand account of how their pregnancy has been so markedly different from the billions of other women who have given birth before them. Billions. Much eye rolling ensued. And still, sometimes. As I always say: I have bigger fish to fry). Moving on.
Everything in this post for Camille can be made for you and yours, no baby required. The major difference is that babies should not have sugar or salt in their diet. So, if you want to make Camille's eats for yourself, grab the salt shaker and probably a squeeze of honey for any of the sweet recipes. Camille doesn't know what she missing! Salt is just too hard on kidneys to those under the age of 1. And sugar, well, she has a whole lifetime of dessert-eating so let's not start now, ok?
Trying to describe how I make decisions on how to feed my babe is like trying to eat a mountain. Or trying to swallow the sea. So many factors went into my decision to start her on a spoonful of puree once a day at 5.5 months. Mostly, I was so dang tired of breastfeeding, and I was desperate for her to get calories elsewhere. Even if it was just a few spoonfuls, the relief I felt when she swallowed a spoonful of puree was enormous. That was just me. Maybe it's not you. I intended to never offer solids until she reached 1 year old, but man, I was in a bad place. But in the end, Camille loves food and was clearly ready for it: she held her head up, reached for the spoon, opened her mouth, and she smiled after each bite.
Today, at almost-10-months, she's eating 3 meals a day (plus 3 breastfeeding snacks, if you're interested).
Since Camille does not have salt or sugar in her food, I reached for the spice rack pretty early on. Her first food was sweet potato mixed with breastmilk. After that, avocado. After that, banana. And then I went wild making apple and pear purees. I thought she might like a little cinnamon or cardamom with her fruit purees, and off we went! I loved giving her sometimes bland food a flavor bump with spices. And she loved it, too.
She ate a few spoonfuls of fruit or vegetable puree once a day for months. She liked it. She started to look forward to it and lick her lips. She also did this thing where she stretched her arms out wide to tell you she wants food.
After the 6-7 month mark, I aimed to have her meals consist of fruit/vegetable plus a whole grain. Camille is still breastfed, so I wasn't too concerned about protein at this stage. I went wild with vegetable + whole grain combinations. Her favorite one that I stumbled upon is sweet potato + barley. I made a triple batch, and she lapped it up for lunch happily. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, and call me crazy, but barley has a sweetness, no? They make beer from it and yeast need sugar, so it makes sense, right?
This sweet potato barley soup with curry and coconut milk is the big-girl version of her favorite puree. (I didn't think you wanted simple puree recipes--cook two things until done and blend, am I right?). When she was younger, it was only sweet potatoes and barley, pureed. Now, I have a bit more fun and saute shallots in butter or coconut oil, add curry powder, and finish it with coconut milk. (Add salt and a squeeze of lime and Mom and Dad can enjoy it too!)
Camille goes to daycare two days a week now (gasp! I know!), and I commonly make large batches of soup to freeze to send with her. Soup is an easy thing to defrost and feed her, and I'm all about making the lives of those who care for others' children easy. That said, when freezing things with whole grains, they tend to get a little gummy and thick upon defrosting. I used to add a splash of water, but then DING! I had a lightbulb moment--the water should probably be a nutritious, rich vegetable broth to give her even more vitamins and minerals. I whipped up a no-salt vegetable broth for baby, and made ice cubes with it. Anytime I defrost something thick, I toss in an ice cube or two to help smooth things along.
SO, one-thousand words later, I am giving you a recipe for no-salt vegetable broth for baby and a recipe for curried sweet potato coconut soup--also for baby.
This particular pot contains sweet potatoes, leeks, carrots, watermelon radishes, celery, one garlic clove and a single black peppercorn. You can toss any fresh, nutritious vegetable in the pot--I did a version with parsnip, turnips, rutabaga, celery, carrot and garlic last month.
You might be thinking that's a lot of leek for a baby...so, one of Camille's first purees was pea + leek. It sounds strange to give kids onions, but the French consider leeks to be a mild vegetable and commonly include it in the list of first foods for baby. I'm so glad Camille is used to the taste of onions, because they're great for her immune system.
I cook everything on a simmer for 2 hours, strain it, and then mash it in the strainer to extract as much vitamins and minerals as possible. Look at that golden orange hue! Tell me that isn't nutritious!
Store it in glass jars in the fridge, or pop it in an ice cube tray to keep on hand for defrosting thick purees.
Let's get to the sweet potato barley soup!
I buy 10-minute, quick-cooking pearled barley for this recipe. I intended to use the real deal, whole grain barley, but found that it never quite softened enough for baby. So, the easy route, we took! Into the pot goes 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter (the best!), and one minced shallot. You can use a leek or small onion. Then, when the shallot is just starting to caramelize, I add 2 teaspoons of madras curry powder. Madras is the best curry combo, in my opinion. It doesn't have any spicy heat, just lots of depth. I saute the curry until it's fragrant, and then add 4 cubed sweet potatoes, 2 ½ cups of the no-salt vegetable broth, and ½ cup of barley. Now, we're going to cook it for longer than 10 minutes, because al dente is not exactly what baby has in mind. I cook this mixture for about 30 minutes, I'd say. Maybe a touch longer. It is falling apart when I stir it. Then, I stir in ¾ cup of full-fat coconut milk.
At this point, make your call about how chunky baby wants it. Camille doesn't have a single tooth yet, but at almost 10-months old, she can gum her way through anything. She stole a piece of lettuce off my plate tonight and managed to get it down. I leave a few big chunks of sweet potato in the soup for her to mash in her mouth. I really try to break up most of the barley. It's a little tough to chew, and I want to make sure her little body absorbs the nutrients from it. So, I actually pulled out a big scoop of sweet potatoes, pureed the remaining soup, and then stirred them back in. It's totally your call, and it depends on what stage your baby is at. They're all different, and no one is right or wrong, we're just all trying to survive this thing called parenthood together, am I right?
Today for lunch, I drizzled over a little extra coconut milk. I just want to mention something about fats--kids need good quality fats. There was a time when Camille seemed like a bottomless pit and would eat so.much.food. It kinda blew me away how much she ate, and she never once told me she was full. It turns out, fruits and veggies don't really fill you up, so she was just eating and enjoying the flavor sensations and never getting a full tummy. The minute I started giving her full-fat coconut milk, olive oil, salmon, and rich marbled cuts of beef, she found her off switch.
Speaking of off switches, I'm going to find mine.
No-salt vegetable broth:
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 large leeks
- 3 carrots
- 4-5 watermelon radishes
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 black peppercorn
Curried Sweet Potato Coconut Barley Soup
- 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
- 2 ½ cup no-salt vegetable broth (recipe above)
- ½ cup quick-cooking barley
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- ¾ cup full-fat coconut milk
- First, make the no-salt vegetable broth: wash all of the veggies very well. It can be hard to get all of the dirt out of leeks--slice them and then wash them.
- Chop all of the vegetables, and add them to the pot along with the garlic and peppercorn.
- Cover with water, about 6 cups of water will do it.
- Bring to a brisk simmer, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, strain the mixture, pressing the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Discard the solids.
- Store the broth in the fridge for immediate use, or pour it in ice cube trays to freeze for later.
- Next, make the soup: in a soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until almost caramelized.
- Next, add the curry powder and cook while stirring until very fragrant.
- Add the vegetable broth, barley, and sweet potatoes. Bring the mixture to a brisk simmer, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until everything is falling apart.
- Puree the soup according to your baby's need and diet.
- Stir in the coconut milk before serving.
- When reheating the soup, use extra broth to thin it out.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 277Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 47401mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 11gSugar: 16gProtein: 6g