I love making my own baby food. I did it with Caleb, and am now making food for Corban. Particularly since I wasn't able to breast feed Corban, I want to get him off to a great start with his solids foods. I very loosely follow the ideas in the Super Baby Food book. There are a LOT of things I don't like about this book, that I won't go into right now, but what I do like is the section that lists each baby food, how to pick out good, ripe choices from the grocery store, and a detailed explanation of how to store, prepare, and cook the food before pureeing it. I'm not a natural cook, so these details are important to me.
Besides the cost savings, and knowing what I'm feeding my baby, a reason I like to make baby food is that I can make healthier foods that are not the usual choices in the baby food isle in the grocery store. One of these foods, is kale. Now kale is not a food that I EVER made for myself, but apparenly it is full of wonderful nutrition. Web MD calls Kale a "nutritional powerhouse" veggie. Here are just a few of the highlights as to what makes kale so great; it is low calorie, contains fiber, calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin A, C & K. It is a good course of minerals such as copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. So move over spinach, kale is king!
Kale has a strong flavor, so I usually sneak it in with other veggies or cereal. As my way to show you how to make baby food, I will use kale as my demo. However, keep in mind that this is the same method you would use with other foods, particularly vegetables. Of course some foods don't need to be cook before they are frozen, so pears and apples for example, you just puree and freeze.
1. This is what kale looks like when you buy it in the grocery store. I buy 3 bunches at a time (the photo shows one) because it cooks down so much after you steam it.
2. You'll need to clean it first. So after you remove the wire tie, place the kale in a sink full of cold water. Swoosh it around to remove any grit (you'll be surprised how much there is) making sure to open the leaves as you do this.
3. The next step is to "stem" the kale. Stemming is much easier to do before cooking! If you are right handed, you'll hold a single stem in your left hand, positioned like I have photographed below. Be sure the leafy part is folded, so you can pull both sides of the green from the stem at the same time.
4. Use your right hand to rip the greens from the stem. This is what it will remain.
5. Discard the stem and further rip the greens so they are in smaller pieces.
6. You'll want a large pot with a way to steam the greens. I use this metal contraption inside my largest pan. I only have about 2 cm of water beneath. Since any water that touches the food will remove more nutrients, you want to keep the water level low. We are wanting to steam the veggies, not boil them.
7. Once the water in your pot is boiling, be sure that the bubbles are NOT able to reach the veggies. Then place the kale into the strainer and put the lid on it. If you tore the kale into smaller pieces, steam them for 3 minutes. If you left the kale in large leafs, steam 7 minutes. If you find your baby doesn't like the strong flavor of kale, you can steam it without the lid, however, you'll lose some nutrients this way. If you are steaming a large patch (more than one bunch at a time) use tongs to turn the kale several times during cooking. If you are just cooking one batch, you don't have to mix them.
8. This is what kale looks like after cooking. Its spinach-like, limp, and kinda gross.8. Underneath the strainer, you'll notice that the water has turned a light shade of green. That means the kale leeched some nutrients into the steamed water. This is precious, don't throw it out. Use it in step 9.
9. Place your cooked kale into your blender or food processor and add some of the leeched nutrient water.
10. Blend it well. The amount of water you use is up to you. I find that adding more water makes it blend nicer and also makes it easier to pour into ice cube trays.
11. Now all you have to do is pour it into to the ice cube trays and freeze. I'm not crazy about eating kale myself, but really, just LOOK at that beautiful color! Its a deep, beautiful green! It has to be good for you, right?
12. Once the veggie is completely frozen, you remove them from the trays, and place them in FREEZER ziplock bags. Mark them with the date (they are good for up to 2 months). Add a cube in with any other veggie, and know that you're giving your baby a healthy meal! :)