If you're just joining us, welcome to my blog and the tenth day of blogging for "Vegan MoFo" (Vegan Month of Food).
I know some of my blog readers are Mammas (or Dads) with little ones at home, or on the way, so I wanted to share one of my all-time favorite "Baby Food" recipes. It also happens to be called a GRAVY recipe, so fits in great with my Vegan Month Of Gravy blogging.
Actually I'm not sure this qualifies as a "gravy" though I've certainly used it as such - it's basically a low salt, preservative-free vegetable and lentil puree that's packed with nutrition, is filling and tastes great.
This was a staple when my kids were babies and they all loved it; (and as you can see, they seem to have turned out healthy enough - yes, just an excuse to post another picture of my kids - what can I say?)
I would thicken it with baby cereal, add potatoes, veggies, used it as a "base" for EVERYTHING! As they got older, I baked it into "pot-pie" fillings, poured over toast or biscuits or used as a base for stew.
You can use it plain, when your little one is starting solid foods, or add soft cooked veggies if your child is ready for them. And depending on your time and schedule, you might not have to buy as many of those odd-looking, strange smelling, jarred baby-foods.
Making my own baby food was important to me because I wanted to know what my kids were getting, (there weren't as many organic, healthy options twenty years ago) and I wanted to keep sodium and sugar ot a minimum. Low salt foods are important for babies because their salt requirements are VERY small (less than 1g per day up to the age of 12 months) - and these needs are met by breastmilk or formula.
We adults sometimes find food bland if it's cooked without salt, but remember that your baby's palate is undeveloped and that he hasn't yet acquired a preference for salty tastes. And who knows, you may find yourself preferring lower-salt foods after cooking them for your baby!!
Keep in mind too, that commercial baby foods and mashed-up adult foods often tend to have too much of those extra, unneeded ingredients like salt, sugar and preservatives. Bleh.
Baby's First Simple Vegetable Gravy
- olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium carrot, diced (peel the carrot if it is not organic)
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
- (Optional: 1 beet, turnip or parsnip, peeled and chopped, definitely adds more nutrition and sweetness, but if you don't have it, no worries)
- 2 cups homemade vegetable stock (I prefer homemade for baby recipes, less salt and no strange ingredients, I would use a stock with no tomato or soy products for those just starting out)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup of red lentils, rinsed
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- (Optional: a couple handfulls chard or spinach - if you don't mind the color of the puree being an awful beige-khaki-green)
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- pinch or two oregano, sage and basil
Heat the oil and saute the chopped vegetables over medium heat for about 10 min. until they begin to soften.
Add stock, water, oats, lentils (greens, if using) and seasonings and bring to the boil.
Simmer gently, covered, for around forty minutes, checking frequently and adding more water if the mixture seems too dry.
When the lentils are cooked, transfer the mixture to a food processor or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth, thinning with as much water as necessary to achieve your desired texture.
You can now serve, or make it "chunky" by adding cubes of soft cooked potato, squash, peas, carrots, beans, rice or pasta if you wish.
It's also a yummy soup-base for the whole family, just season a bit more, and add veggies (or whatever) as desired.
This freezes great, so make a big batch - it's nice to have some small containers stashed away!