Tag Archives: organic foods

How to Make Toddler Stage Baby Food

I’ve been making my daughter’s  baby food from the time she started on solid foods. It’s a lot of fun but some work also. But I love the extra control homemade baby food gives me over what goes into her diet.

Now that she’s a toddler, she is getting seriously more independent about her eating. She doesn’t want food spooned into her mouth with a few exceptions such as yogurt, and even that she’s getting stubborn about.

This is because she is so good at self feeding and dealing with chunky food. She doesn’t need my help and has made it quite plan that it is mostly no longer welcome. I have a very independent toddler.

When you go to the grocery store, you see all kinds of toddler stage foods available. Most of them frankly look gross to me. Overcooked vegetables, those funky looking meat sticks, and toddler meals with waaaay too much salt.

I’d rather make my own toddler food. It’s not like it’s difficult. Mostly it’s chopping up what the rest of us are having, but smaller.

Not all meals easily chop into something a toddler can easily handle, however. And so I keep some foods in the freezer prepared to make an easy meal.

Foods to cook until soft and freeze in cubes:

Lightly blended green beans
Lightlly blended peas
Diced carrots
Lightly pureed ground beef
Lightly pureed chicken

I don’t keep a huge selection in the freezer anymore because most meals can be eaten with the rest of the family. You may need to cook vegetables just a touch softer and make sure meats are very tender and chopped into small pieces, but toddlers can mostly eat what you eat.

Your crock pot is your friend when it comes to meats. You’ll almost always get meats that are soft enough for your toddler to handle once you dice it up.

To use the frozen goods, I mix them up as I did when she was a baby, except I use the rice so that it’s all a bit chunky. It’s messy, but this means she can pick up the food and cram it in her mouth. You know what messy eaters toddlers can be.

Couscous is a good alternative to rice. My daughter loves it. You could also use small pasta shapes and anything else that is small enough for a toddler to handle. You can freeze any vegetables your toddler likes; I just listed some of my daughter’s favorites.

It helps to peel some kinds of vegetables. My daughter loves zucchini, but the skins still give her trouble. Rather than peel them, I cut off the skins of the pieces I give to her, as the rest of the family enjoys it as well.

Remember that toddlers will put pretty much anything in their mouths, but can’t chew every food they try. Raisins are more of a choking hazard than a treat for them. Same for nuts. You’re best off chopping foods small enough that your toddler is not too likely to choke on them and keep foods soft enough that the toddler can break them down with just a little chewing.

Joining an Organic Produce Buying Club

I’ve come up with my first goal for the One Small Change for this month. I came across it pretty much by coincidence. My husband happened to comment that one of his coworkers had sent him an email about an organic produce buying club he was in and really liked, and forwarded it to me.

They look really good, and as much as possible they buy from local organic farms. And it’s only $22 a week for this co-op, plus $10 per year. They pool the money to get organic foods at wholesale prices.

Eating local is always a great goal. We used to do pretty well at the old house in Poway with our garden some years. Moving in mid summer meant that this year we didn’t get that benefit.

Anyhow, I’m paying my money and the first pickup will be on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it.

Can Baby Go Organic?

I’m greener these days than I was when I had my first two kids. It’s amazing how things change once new ideas get on your radar. It makes some things more complex.

I’ve blogged a lot about how we use cloth diapers with our baby. That’s still going really well. We also use a lot more homemade cleaners. But there are a lot more things we want to do this time around.

We’ve resisted the temptation to get organic sheets and such for her bedding. Just about all the baby clothes and other supplies we have are handmedowns, and have likely off gassed pretty much anything there could be to worry about with them. Shopping for organic replacements strikes me as a bit of a waste at this point.

Baby food, on the other hand…

Going organic here is going to be pretty affordable with any luck. We have a garden, and one of the big things I want to do with any excess is prepare it as baby food.

I figure it will be a great way to get cheap, organic baby food. No question of how it was grown or prepared.

We don’t have any fruit trees, so I will still have to buy fruits to prepare for her, but if the garden behaves we’ll be in pretty good shape with certain varieties.

For the early days we have the VitaMix blender. That should make some really good purees. As she gets big enough to have a little texture, our little KidCo baby food mill should do the job at each meal.

Yes, I know organic baby food is fairly easy to buy these days in jars. I’d still rather make what I can. It makes sense financially and I know to be very, very careful about keeping things clean when making baby food, as food poisoning is more dangerous to infants.

I have a bit of time yet before taking this step, but it’s definitely time to get planning. Selene is three months now and I want to be ready to get things started when she’s six months old, not still trying to figure the whole deal out.

This is One Reason Why Eating Local & in Season Matters

I came across this really depressing but informative article on Gourmet.com about the use of slaves to harvest tomatoes. Pretty much if you eat tomatoes out of season, you’re eating food that was picked by people who are effectively slaves.

The article was published in March, but I only came across it recently while using Stumble Upon. Amazing the things I find there.

Pickers are lucky to pick a ton of tomatoes on a particular day, for which they would earn about $50. However, they have to be available even when there isn’t work, and they are generally charged outrageous rents for extremely poor housing.

They can even be beaten for being too sick to work.

Your choices matter. Pay attention to where you shop. The Campaign for Fair Food has gotten some companies to agree to give pickers a pay raise, although many farmers are refusing to cooperate or be a conduit for the raise.

At this point, Whole Foods is the only grocery chain signed on to not buy from growers who exploit workers so badly.

Almost as bad as the treatment so many workers labor under, are the people in the comments who feel they deserve such treatment for being in the United States illegally.

Yes, it’s hard to think of paying more for your food. But if you think of the people involved in the entire process of getting food to your table it might be worth it.

Should You Avoid Food Additives and Coloring?

As a rule, I like to cook from scratch. Mostly because I enjoy it, but also because I like knowing what goes into the foods I feed my family. That’s not to say I don’t allow any packaged foods at all; my husband remains hooked on boxed mac n’ cheese, and so the kids love it too. We also enjoy boxed cereals. But I do what I can to avoid convenience foods and prepared foods.

Frankly, I find obvious food coloring to be pretty gross and unnecessary. We eat so many things that are a very different color from what they would be naturally and have been trained to think that that is how they are supposed to look. Kind of ridiculous when you think about it.

There’s a lot to be said for trying to get away from food coloring. There’s some evidence, after all, that getting certain types of food additives and coloring out of a child’s diet may help with ADHD. Not in all cases, but sometimes there appears to be a connection. If I had a child with ADHD, that is certainly one possibility I would test before using medications.

ADHD isn’t the only problem. As noted in Healthy Child Healthy World , which I reviewed recently, MSG is associated with reactions such as headaches and changes in heart rate. I remember my grandmother being very careful to ask at restaurants about MSG because it gave her so many problems.

I do notice that I feel better when I eat food I made from scratch, and I don’t think that’s just due to liking my own style of cooking. No doubt that’s a part of it, but I firmly believe that there is also something to do with the freshness of the ingredients and lack of preservatives, food colorings and other additives.

I don’t even like to use premade spice blends. Too many of those have too much salt or other ingredients I don’t want.

It doesn’t matter to me that my kids don’t have ADD or ADHD or any other conditions that might be made better by getting additives out of their diets. I don’t need most additives in my food. My kids don’t need them. Neither does my husband, but it doesn’t bother him like it does me. Can’t win all the battles, know what I mean?