Monkey dining

I know I can cook, and Hubby generally really likes what I make. But Monkey hates the homemade baby food I’ve tried so far. I’ll admit my attempts have been pretty half-assed. (After all, I’ve tasted what comes out of those jars of baby food, and Monkey eats those just fine at daycare.) But I’m now thinking a little bit more time and finesse may be necessary for our miniature food critic.

Monkey loves the organic baby food that we’ve bought for him (Hubby and I do too – they’re incredibly yummy). But they’re expensive, and at the rate that Monkey is plowing through them, a homemade approach is called for. Plus, homemade baby food provides the option of increasing texture, which seems to be one of Monkey’s biggest resistances to certain solids (he spits softened bananas back at us in contempt). If we can get him to fall in love with some nutritious and flavorful purees, we may be able to (slowly) wean him from his aversion to textures.

I have very few ideas for recipes, save the few that are in the book “Hungry Monkey”, so I’m calling in bloggy reinforcements for homemade baby food recipes. I’ll try just about anything your own little ones love(d) to eat, with just a few rules:

  • As Monkey doesn’t do very well with chunky food textures yet, it must be able to pureed pretty smoothly. Bonus if it’s something that will adapt to a soft but textured meal over time.
  • Even though I’m okay with meats, I want to focus on some veggie/fruit recipes. I already know Monkey will eat chicken (the only non-pureed table food he’s taken to so far). I’d like to him to experience lots of veggies as early as possible.
  • Although I’m willing to try just about anything, Monkey has made it clear that he hates peas. No peas, please. Or I’m sending you the carpet-cleaning bill.
  • Of course, there’s an added benefit if the food comes in adult form. Most of the recipes Hubby and I make are pretty spicy or contain dairy or pasta – things that we can’t expose Monkey to just yet. Also, if it is something that we can adapt from our own menu, please make sure it can sit in the fridge overnight. Monkey goes to bed before Hubby and I eat dinner, so we’ll be prepping the food for his next night’s dinner.

Send your recipes to microdro AT gmail DOT com, or leave/link to them in the comments. Hubby and I will start trying recipes as we receive and find time to prepare them, and I’ll blog them AND the “Monkey dining” results.

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25 thoughts on “Monkey dining

  1. I made my kids’ food too, since I wanted them to start out eating things that I knew what was in them. I also didn’t like all the wasted food from the jars if they weren’t hungry or needed more than one jar, but not two. One easy thing my kids liked is mashed sweet potato (Just nuke one or two for 6-10 minutes until soft all the way through and mash. Thin with expressed milk/formula/water as necessary. Add a dash of nutmeg for taste, and add some butter when Monkey is eating dairy for a calorie boost.) They both also liked avocado (pick a ripe one and mash it. Add expressed milk/formula/water to thin if necessary. You can control the texture pretty easily). Good luck!

  2. Food is tough in the beginning–but then they just start to eat everything, at least for a while. My husband did most of the concocting, but he would mix avocado with almost anything-like banana for example, and W would lap it up. We would make this fresh to prevent the browning, but it takes less than 5 minutes. When were able to mix in citrus, we would add peach to the mix. Something really simple to do is take acorn squash, halve and bake it with a little butter (use the fake butter if you are worried about dairy-but almost all agree that a little butter at this stage is not horrible) and brown sugar. Mash it up and watch the results. We found peas went down better once W was at a stage where he could pick them up with his fingers. This is so fun. Enjoy!

  3. Avocado – yummy!! Of course, finding them ripe is difficult, but we usually buy several on sale and make guac as they ripen. We should pull some aside next time and mash without all the spices for Monkey.

  4. Oooh, the acorn squash sounds yummy!

    When did you start giving citrus to W? I hadn’t thought about that one…

  5. I’m no help with purees. But when Monkey’s about 9 months old, you can add finger foods, and we have had the most luck with taking a page from the baby-led weaning people and giving large, easily held things. Petunia loves pancakes, and has since she was old enough to hold one and gnaw on it. Her favorites are Carrot Cake Pancakes:
    http://www.wandering-scientist.com/2010/08/dinner-during-dora-carrot-cake-pancakes.html

    Also- both of our kids have been huge fans of smoothies. You can put all sorts of things into smoothies, but here is our base recipe:
    http://www.wandering-scientist.com/2010/09/dinner-during-dora-smoothies.html

  6. We were fortunate, Epsilon was a good eater. We made all our food, and a pressure cooker and food processor were our best friends for a very long time. We would cook and blend on Saturdays (right after the farmer’s market) for the entire week, and freeze all but the next two days worth of food.

    Things I learned while cooking: 1) Don’t rush the texture. It will come when it does. Pushing it early doesn’t work.
    2) When you have two different veggies, but not enough of each to fill a full canning jar, DON’T mix them. Epsilon didn’t like Beatnips.
    3) Try giving him thing that are not obviously sweet. It’s amazing how sweet things like zucchini are. If he may or may not be willing to eat things that aren’t sweet. If he isn’t then you have to throw away a batch of veggies, if he is, you’ve saved yourself a battle over food variety in a few months.

    Recipes that worked for us:
    1) Roasted bell peppers, (the non green kinds): Roast in your oven until they are soft, and the skins peel off. Cut open, and pour the juices into your blender. Remove skin and seed. Blend the flesh.
    2)Zucchini: Roast in the oven until they are soft and start to wrinkle. Cut of stalk, blend.
    3) Eggplant: Roast in oven until soft. Peel off skin. Blend well. (If you have a good blender, you should be able to puree the seeds as well.

    Veggies that go well in the pressure cooker:
    Cauliflower, Turnips, Beets, Sweet potato, carrots, apples, pears

    Peel turnips and beets. Cut everything up into large pieces and put in pressure cooker with a little water. The sweetness of the sweet veggies will help the flavor of things like cauliflower. Cook for 10 mins. (This is variable based on how large you cut the pieces and the specifics of your cooker) Blend and store veggies separately. Use the excess juice to add liquid if you need a softer consistency.

    Other veggies:
    Tomatoes: Just blanch, peel and blend. In a few months, you should be able to get good herilooms, if you are interested
    Large pit fruit (eg. peaches, plums, nectarines): Same as tomato. Though epsilon would eat a ripe peach out of my hand (hey, that was MY breakfast!) and spit out the skin, long before he would touch any other solid food.

    Things that don’t do well in pressure cookers:
    Broccoli and cabbage: get bitter.
    Asparagus and Kale: They just have too much texture

    Good luck

  7. I don’t think you should worry about it! Food should be fun at this age, and they should still be getting the majority of their calories through bm or formula. Some kids do have problems with textures, but that’s not something to worry about for some time yet. Mine didn’t even want anything to do with food until 8 or 9 months and that’s ok! When he did start with food he ate everything he could put in his mouth.

    You can get a food mill and just put whatever you’re having through dinner in it. Some stuff he’ll like and some he won’t and the more you try the same stuff the more he’ll like it. Some stuff takes multiple tries. No biggie.

  8. I feel like he was around 9 or 10 mo’s…in small amounts, like peaches or a splash of lime in the avocado….he’s only had orange juice once-and it was watered down. He was 14 mos at that point, and we aren’t big orange juice drinkers as it is……

  9. We never did too much pureed food, since my little guy liked table foods so much (this, despite the fact he developed chompers very late- he had some powerful gumming skillz).
    For the brief pureed food phase, sweet potatoes were the first hit, and greenbeans were as well (peas were tolerated, but never as happily as greenbeans). We made a lot of mushy (but not pureed) sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and carrots. Applesauce worked well, and we added that to other things to sweeten them.

    Currently (he’s 20 months) he likes soft cauliflower a lot, and bananas. Also, it might not work just yet (unless you make it very thin?) but we added mushy beans to a lot of meals (think refried bean texture).
    And an aside- my mom started giving my little guy bits of tangerines (to suck the juice from) when he was like 4 months old (long before most foods). We think that the whole ‘wait for citrus fruits’ thing is silly. Also, he often got lemon slices at restaurants, but that might be extreme (sometimes funny to watch).

  10. I agree with weirdness of ‘wait for citrus fruits’. We kept waiting for big diaper rashes or other difficulties and they never happened. The diaper rashes came whenever he was getting a new tooth, not because we fed him–strawberries, for example.

  11. I have to be honest, I didn’t really realize there was an issue with citrus. We haven’t given him anything really acidic yet (except some strawberries, which he didn’t really like), but I’m not sure that was on purpose. The diaper rash thing makes sense, but I feel like we may have already blown this one at some point…

    Which brings me back to the fact that most of this still feels like voodoo to me. Monkey’s already had a taste of vanilla ice cream (which he loved), and that didn’t cause an issue. But it’s dairy. *sigh*

  12. I love your dinner during dora series, and have started perusing the old blog posts for ideas. In fact, I’m now thinking my Monkey dining idea might be a bit of a rip off. What’s that TS Eliot quote?

    Carrot cake pancakes sound totally yummy. 🙂 I also never thought of doing the smoothies sans yogurt – will have to try soon.

  13. So, we were berated for giving W peanut butter at one year instead of after year 2…..As far as the diaper rash goes, I would just put some bag balm on the bum and keep on trucking. W had vanilla ice cream at 9 months. He was getting cheese by then too–and YoBaby. Prob the only rule that we adhered to was the no honey b/f 1. And actually we have never given him popcorn–it just freaks me out.

  14. Have you looked at http://weelicious.com/ ? Friends of mine with small children *rave* about their recipes, which are grouped by child ages. Many of their recipes are supposed to be “friendly for the whole family”. Their recipes look delicious – hell, I don’t even have kids, and their recipes are making me hungry…

  15. No peas? I wonder if it’s because most canned peas are so horribly overcooked that they take on a funky, slightly sulfurous taste. Worst thing you can do to any food, really, is to overcook it.

    I make this summer squash dish that my nephew (well, 2nd cousin) loved pureed. It’s actually an adult dish. I was sitting for him one time and figured I’d puree it to see if he’d eat it. And he loved it. Annoyed my cousin, though, as he hates veg and now had to cook them for his son.

    Preheat oven to 400F. Dice 3 squash and 3 zucchini into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread the squash and zucchini over a sheet tray and add salt and pepper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Roast for 20min or until soft. Puree half in blender or food processor with 1/8 cup aliquots of water until you have a consistency you’re happy with. Serve the other half for your dinner with the hubby.

  16. I like the book feeding the whole family. It has lots of recipes for “adult food” then gives suggestions on how to make parts of the meal OK for kiddos of various ages. so it tells you to set a bit of X and Y aside before adding Z. it’s a whole foods cookbook and mostly vegetarian, so it may or may not be your cup of tea. you could check it out from the library before buying. I don’t usually cook directly from cookbooks, but it gave me lots of ideas on ways to cook for the family and it does have some good recipes in it that I do use somewhat regularly.

  17. Thanks for all the ideas! We have a large food processor that’s in storage (since our condo’s on the market and we needed to clear off the countertops). But we also have a nice little Cuisinart processor that can handle small scale stuff. So I had steered away from large scale purees.

    We just used the Cuisinart after cooking dinner to puree mushrooms and spinach (trying it out on Monkey tonight), and it worked great. In fact, I think it can handle several days worth of food. So we’ll have to try out some of the root veggies really soon!

  18. The main thing we’re worried about is not spending loads of money on store-bought baby food, since Monkey really has taken to the organic purees we found. Our little food processor seems to be working well on lots of things (just tried it out last night), so I’m betting we’ll be in puree mode until Monkey takes to finger foods.

  19. Oh, no canned peas. No canned veggies in our household – except tomatoes, but they’re technically a fruit. So yeah, no canned veggies.

    I’ve tried flash-frozen peas, which Hubby and I really love (although nothing’s as good as fresh from the patio garden). I didn’t cook them too long, just enough to make them puree-able. Problem is Monkey hates the texture of anything that’s not solid. Of course, I can’t vouch for what the jarred peas taste like – they may taste like the nasty canned crap.

  20. Pingback: Monkey likes it, he really likes it!!! | The Tightrope

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