Although it is seeing a resurgence in popularity, making homemade baby food for your children is hardly a new concept. It is one of the best ways to ensure that the food your child is eating is coming from fresh, healthy, locally sourced ingredients that are prepared fresh without additives or preservatives that might cause digestive or allergen issues. On top of that, making baby food is truly an incredibly simple activity. Depending on the type you are making, you generally need either an oven or a boiling pot and a good blender. The creation of baby food is primarily taking a fruit, vegetable or other food item and softening it via cooking to the point where it is able to be pureed into a smooth consistency for baby to eat.
Tutorials for making food for your baby are popping up all over YouTube, mommy blogs and other popular websites, but with a little know-how and common sense, anyone who knows their way around the kitchen and a bit about nutrition and what is good for little tummies can turn nearly anything suitable in a puree that makes a perfect meal for their baby.
Yams, A Natural, Vitamin Rich Food
Although some people refer to the vegetable commonly used in the United States as yams, they are generally actually sweet potatoes, a root vegetable native to Central and South America which is now widely cultivated. The sweet potato contains vitamins B6 and C as well as beta carotene, complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, making them a very healthy choice for a growing baby as far as digestion, immunity and overall health are concerned. The soluble fiber contained in the sweet potato can also promote heart health, even in a child under one year of age.
Baking Your Sweet Potatoes
The process for making sweet potato puree using your oven is incredibly simple. All you will need is a few sweet potatoes- two is a good number to start with- as well as a fork, a sheet tray and your oven. Your blender will eventually come in to play, but not yet. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. While your oven is preheating, take the fork and poke some holes in your sweet potatoes. This allows steam to escape as the potatoes are roasting so that they do not build up too much steam within their thin skins and explode. It is important to leave the peels on during this step, as if the peels are removed, the natural sugars in the sweet potato will begin to caramelize the outside, an undesirable result when making baby food. By leaving the peel on, the meaty innards of the sweet potato are allowed to steam within their own container without boiling out so many of the ideal nutrients.
When your oven is preheated, put your sweet potatoes on the sheet tray and put it in the oven. They should take about 45 minutes to cook, but this could potentially vary more or less based on the age and temperature gauge of your oven. In order to determine if your sweet potato is done, take the fork you used to poke holes in it before, rinse it off, and gently penetrate the skin of the potato. If it enters easily and without resistance, the potato is done. If you have to force it in, the potato needs more time. If it is not done, check it in ten minute increments until it has finished cooking. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, safely remove them in the oven and put them in a place that is out of the way to cool for at least an hour.
When the potatoes have cooled, take a butter knife and gently remove the outer peel. Grab a cutting board and use the butter knife to cut the sweet potato into chunks. Now, grab your blender and set it up. Put the sweet potato chunks into the blender canister and place the lid on securely. Hit the puree button on your blender. If you are having issues with pieces not incorporating, make sure the blender has stopped completely, remove the lid, and use the rubber scraper to push any chunks toward the blade. Once you have replaced the lid, continue pureeing until you are satisfied with the consistency of the product.
Everyone chooses to store their baby food differently. Some people used portioned jars, others just keep it in an air tight container- some put it in individual plastic zipper bags and freeze it. Sweet potato baby food should be used or frozen within 3 days to ensure food safety and maximum freshness.