Little City Kitchen Co. Blog

My stories about local food, fermentation, and formerly organic baby food
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Getting to the Root of the Recipe: Baby Food Flavors for Fall

In this blog, we talk about all things baby food; making it, storing it, the health of it, etc…  But the one area I’ve been reluctant to share is actual baby food recipes. Call it “trade secrets” or my entrepreneur protectiveness kicking in, but you normally don’t get specifics from me unless you take one of my cooking classes or attend a cooking demo.

People ask why I bother with teaching baby food making classes.  Seems contradictory since I want to sell them my own baby food, right?  I’m equally as (if not more) passionate about teaching & educating parents about healthy baby food as I am about producing my own.

So in that spirit, today’s blog is going to all about baby food ideas inspired by the fabulous fall flavors, and root vegetables in particular…  And hint hint, these can also be used for your own family dinners, just cook extra and reserve some for baby food.

The Scoop on Root Vegetables

Although I can’t stand the cold weather (one reason I moved to the Bay Area from Boston), I do love soup & stew season.  And a large component of any stew of mine is root vegetables. They’re earthy, hearty, packed with good nutrients, are super-easy to cook with…and they make excellent baby food!

My Favorites:  Golden beets, Tokyo turnips, purple kohlrabi and celery root
Other great options: Parsnips, sunchokes, rutabagas, and watermelon radish
Recommended cooking: Either roast in the oven or sauté on the stovetop for best flavor

The Root of Roasting:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Peel root veggies, chop into ¾ – 1 inch pieces
  • Toss with either olive oil or melted coconut oil, and add any herb or spice
  • Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet (not crowded) – I like to put aluminum foil or parchment paper on the bottom for easier cleanup
  • Roast in oven for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes
  • They should be slightly browned and soft when finished.  If they get too brown, turn the oven down 25 degrees.  If they start to get dry, add more fat like olive oil.

The Root of Sautéing:

  • Peel root veggies, chop into ½ inch pieces.
  • In a large skillet (10 inch or 12 inches) over medium heat, heat up enough olive oil or coconut oil to coat the bottom of the pan, approx 2-3 tablespoons.  (Be liberal; remember babies need lots of healthy fat).
  • Add root veggies and sauté for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes.
  • They should be slightly browned and soft when finished.  If they start to burn, turn the burner down. If they start to stick, add more fat.

For baby food, consider mixing some of the stronger root vegetables (like beet, celery root, parsnip) with milder and sweeter options (like sweet potato, kohlrabi, baby turnips or sunchokes).  It’s a good way to balance out the strong earthy flavor, and the kiddos seem to really like it.

Fun Fall Flavors

And finally, here are some recipe ideas you can play around with…baby food or a side dish for your family dinner, take your pick.

  • Roasted golden beet with apple, ginger & fresh parsley
  • Sautéed celery root & fennel with coconut milk, white sweet potato & cinnamon
  • Roasted parsnips with sweet potato, pear & fresh thyme
  • Homemade spiced pear sauce with coconut quinoa & clove (see baby cereals)
  • Roasted butternut squash with carrots, sautéed turnips and a hint of maple syrup

Happy cooking!

A Few of My Favorite Posts

Being a one-man show has its advantages…but not this week.  When you’re the “do-it-all” person and you come down with a stomach bug, your progress comes to a screeching halt.  On the road to recovery now, but suffice it say I haven’t been in the kitchen cooking at all, nor have I been feeling my most creative…which tends to put a damper on my writing.

So forgive me for cheating a little bit this week, but in lieu of our normal blog (and because we have a ton of new readers) I thought I’d assemble some of my favorite blog posts over the year to share with you.

Making Your Own Baby Food

So your little one is 5 months old and you’re getting ready to start solids.  Congratulations!  You want to make your own food, but where do you start?

First, checkout my review of baby food making equipment.  My favorite piece of equipment is the food processor, but if you don’t have one of those on hand, here are some alternatives that work well.

Next, learn all about my favorite cooking methods here.  People think that baby food can only be steamed, but there’s a whole world of roasting, sautéing and other methods to bring out the best flavors for little one.

You probably know that I’m not a fan of boxed rice cereal being a first food for baby.  Homemade grain cereals, however, can be a wonderful addition to baby’s diet, so check out my guide to making your own baby cereals here.

And finally, once you’ve made all this great stuff, how do you store it?  Read all about the best baby food storage containers here.  I have a “Best Buy” and a “Wanna Splurge” item in each category.

Scoop on Starting Solids

One of the most exciting parts of starting Little City Kitchen Co. is that I spend a lot of time educating parents.  I started my Scoop on Starting Solids blog series to help the many questions that I get asked.  The questions are answered by my favorite pediatrician, Julia Getzelman, or another expert in the field.

A lot has changed in the baby food world in the last three years.  It started with the revised AAP guidelines that were released in 2008.  Read here to find out the newest recommendations for introducing allergens.

I use a lot of healthy fats in baby food including coconut milk, coconut oil and olive oil.  You can learn a little more about cooking with healthy fats here.

Every parent wants to raise a child that makes healthy eating choices, but most people don’t realize that they can teach food preferences from the very beginning.  Read all about how to grow a broccoli lover here.

And finally, I talk a lot about why rice cereal isn’t the best first food.  You can read a little more about that and some other suggestions for first foods here.

Enjoy the recap…we’ll be back next week with lots of new goodies to read.

Baby Steps to Healthier Eating – Part 1: Food Entrepreneur Blog Series

I’ve been a foodie all my life, but until starting my own food-based business, I never had given much thought to what healthy food really was. It wasn’t until I started immersing myself in the food world did I come to my own conclusions…and you may be surprised by the results.

Like many, I relied in the past on the experts to tell me what was healthy: low fat, low carb, low calorie, etc…  That’s all healthy, right?  NOPE!  If all this food is healthy, how come we are the sickest and unhealthiest we’ve ever been in our entire history?

I have moved to a much more “traditional” diet, i.e. nutrient dense foods that our ancestors have eaten (and lived extremely healthy lives on) for thousands of years.  High quality meats, saturated fats – yup, even the stuff we’ve been told is bad for us like butter and lard – lots of vegetables, and raw, unpasteurized milk.  If you’re interested in reading more about this philosophy, check out the Weston A Price Foundation for more details.

You’ve heard me say before, “I’m a common sense girl”.  Until around the 1940’s, the American diet had been pretty much the same…and then came the advent of the microwave and TV dinners.  The result: we started to move away from eating real food and shifted to processed foods.   And to boot, it certainly didn’t help that we had a boom in marketing and advertising for these shortcut products.

Fast-forward to present day.  We’re still being told that shortcut products are healthier than the real versions; we’ve been trained well.  Don’t rely on advertising or food packaging to tell you that things are good for you (Dave: ignore the high antioxident message, trust me).  Use your common sense, and to me, there is nothing more common sense than eating “real food”; unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, meats, and seeds.

So how could the average person start eating healthier?  Start small.  Here are some examples of things you can do that take very little time and have very little cost…

Baby Steps to Healthier Eating

  • Buy one pound of grass-fed beef instead of conventional beef.
  • Pick a few fruits or veggies to buy organic each week: See the Dirty Dozen for a guide on what to buy organic.
  • Go to the farmers market one more time per month than usual (Great iPhone app recommendation: Farmers’ Market Finder – I love mine!)
  • Ask a meat vendor at the farmers market to tell you about their products; what they eat, how they live, etc…
  • Check out the Weston A Price website and research a traditional diet
  • Go to a restaurant one less time than usual per month, cook at home instead
  • Buy pastured eggs…not to be confused with organic, free range.  Read about the difference here.
  • Donate some of the unhealthy processed food you have in your pantry
  • Cook with one new whole grain every week.  This is my favorite website to learn about whole grains.  Quinoa, farro, wheatberries and black rice are my favorites.
  • Read a chapter from The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  Brilliant author, and a wonderful “real food” educator and advocate.
  • Given the choice between buying local grapes (from a farm 30 miles away) or cheaper grapes (from Mexico or Chile) in your grocery store, choose local.  Or chard, or apples, or carrots, you get the idea.

I’ve also assembled some general guidelines for people trying to eat healthier foods, but we’re going to cover that another week.  Reminder to hit up the Food Allergies Rock free concert this Sunday, November 6 at Golden Gate Park.  Until next week, happy (and healthy) eating!