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The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book: Make 3 Months of Homemade Purees in 3 Hours Hardcover – April 28, 2015
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About the Author
LISA BARRANGOU, PhD, is an experienced food scientist and culinary professional. After becoming a mother, she founded The Green Baby Chef, a homemade baby food company offering personal chef services for infants, as well as private cooking instruction and baby food-making workshops. She holds a BS in nutrition, food, and agriculture from Cornell University, and an MS and PhD in food science from North Carolina State University.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Creating a well-balanced, diverse offering of meals that baby will enjoy can be the most challenging part of feeding your baby. This challenge is largely responsible for why so many parents leave it up to food companies to create and supply their baby’s food for them. While commercially processed jarred baby food does offer convenience, homemade baby food made from fresh whole foods is far superior, both in nutrient and flavor quality.
Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined (or processed and refined as little as possible), and therefore maintain their natural flavor and nutrient integrity. Think of whole foods as those that can typically be found in nature, like whole fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains, and fresh cuts of meat. Processed jarred and pouched baby foods, while made mostly, but not entirely, from whole foods, are subject to very high temperature and pressure treatments, which allow them to remain shelf stable for literally years but result in substantial nutrient and flavor loss. The impact of this high heat can be clearly seen by comparing the color of processed jarred pea puree with homemade pea puree. The dramatic color change that results from excess heat directly indicates nutrient and flavor quality loss. In addition to extensive processing, jarred baby foods often include thickening agents, such as flours, starches, and gums, to increase stability (prevent them from separating during long-term storage), effectively diluting the nutrient density of the product.
Homemade baby food, on the other hand, can be prepared using gentle cooking methods, ensuring the maximum retention of nutrient and flavor integrity. Storing homemade baby food in the freezer is a gentle preservation method that locks in nutrients rather than destroying them, allowing this nutrient and flavor integrity to carry over until consumption. When babies are offered gently processed, flavorful whole food purees, they learn to accept and enjoy the natural, beautiful flavors that nature provides. This early acceptance, if cultivated, becomes a preference, and carries on with babies through life. Conversely, the bland flavors of jarred baby food purees often lead to an underdeveloped palate that is less accepting of the full flavors of healthy foods, and that, too, can be carried on through life.
Making homemade baby food provides an opportunity for you to prepare whole foods for your baby right from the start. Researchers have found that consumption patterns for fruits and vegetables often change adversely as babies transition from purees to a mature diet, primarily due to the introduction of processed foods. One study researched food consumption patterns of US infants and toddlers and found that, while deep yellow vegetables were consumed by 39 percent of babies at seven to eight months old, that percentage sharply declined to 13 percent at nineteen to twenty-four months old, when french fries became the most commonly consumed vegetable. This study also found that at nineteen to twenty-four months old, nearly one-third of babies consumed no fruit, while 60 percent consumed baked desserts, 20 percent consumed candy, and 44 percent consumed sweetened beverages on a given day.1 In our current Western food culture, many well-intentioned parents unwittingly fall into the processed food trap. And no matter how healthily you may have eaten before you had children, it can be even harder to find the time for fresh-food preparation once they come along. I hope this simple system will make it easier for you to quickly and confidently keep whole foods at the forefront of your child’s eating habits—even as life becomes increasingly more complex.
Preparing homemade baby food is very easy to do, but it does take time, the right cooking tools, and planning to provide a diverse, well-balanced offering of age-appropriate food. The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book does most of the planning for you, guiding you through a six-step process that will prepare you to make three months’ worth of baby food in just three one-hour blocks of time. After guiding you through preparing a large supply of individual whole food purees, this book shows you how to combine your individual purees into an endless variation of flavorful, nutritionally balanced meals, and then transitions you to preparing more advanced meals as your baby approaches readiness for a mature diet.
As you begin your baby food making adventure be sure to read chapter 2, which provides valuable information on feeding timelines, specific health concerns to be aware of, safe food preparation practices, and selection and preparation tips for whole foods. Please note that this book has been written as an informative guide to support your baby’s health and nutrition, but it is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of a physician. Always consult your baby’s pediatrician for health-related matters or concerns. Now, let’s get started!
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Top Customer Reviews
I used the 'The Best Homemade Baby Food' book for my first child 5 years ago, and was pretty happy with it. However, when I got this one, I was shocked that baby foods can be so diverse. Cooking method is mostly the same for all baby food books. Cut, steam and blend. What makes this book so unique, is that it introduces so many variety of vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes. Some of them I didn't even notice they existed. I love the fact that I can introduce all kinds of food out there to my 6 month old, and hopefully he'll develop a habit of trying a variety of healthy foods later in life too. My 5 year old daughter is still a very picky eater and she has a hard time trying new food. Sometimes I wonder if that could have been changed at least a little if I had this book when she was a baby. Probably not, but still...
On top of variety, this book also has 'Food Compatibility Chart'. You can pair and mix your cubes of babyfood to give them thousands of variety for their palate. This will be especially good when the baby rejects one flavor but you still want to give it to him. Mix it with something he likes in the chart, and he'll like it better than one flavor alone (such as kale or broccoli). (I haven't tried this myself though, as I only had this book for 4-5 weeks. My son liked everything I made so far, except sweet peas. I am planning to mix it with something else and try again soon.)
The only downside is, when to introduce which is not specified by month. If you are starting solids at 6 months, I think you can just follow sample schedule in the book (which is also amazing by the way). But because I started solids at 5 months, I referenced 'The Best Homemade Baby Food' book for introducing which food when. (I actually lost my copy but found that it was only $2.99 in kindle, so I bought it again.) I do recommend supplementing with another book if you are confused with the timing of introduction. Or maybe you can google when to introduce what.
This book is made beautifully, and I really recommend it. I read it everyday just because the book is so pretty, and it has very good information in picking and purchasing the right food. Although I didn't follow the make ahead schedule, I'm sure it would come in very handy for those who need it too. Recommended cooking tools is also helpful, as I love the silicone trays described here, opposed to expensive baby food freezing trays.