Okay, so my title sounds kind of gimmicky. I’m not running ads on my blog nor do I have that many followers, so there’s just no reason to be gimmicky. BUT – I still think this is the best baby food (which I will continue to make into toddlerhood and beyond as long as she likes it) I have ever made.
I’ve said some conflicting things about making my own baby food. I believe at some point I said it’s easy and there’s no reason to not do it. Another time I said it’s a pain in the butt. Well, it is both, depending on the day. Some of us like fooling around in the kitchen more than others. I happen to be one of those people, as well as slightly obsessed with nutrition, so it’s a given I’d make Catherine’s food. But I’m also busy, and I have a baby who only wanted purees for about two weeks before she decided she would like to feed herself, thank you very much. If you know babies, you know that a baby trying to feed herself a puree is a big, messy joke. So I had to get super creative. I had to figure out what sort of finger foods would be
- soft enough for her to eat
- bite sized, but still large enough for her to hold
- not a choking hazard
- packable – as in, she can eat them the next day with her nanny Juliana
I’ve learned a few things the hard way throughout this process, and gotten more skilled at putting together a meal for her, quickly. I’ve discovered things like rainbow cauliflower. Buy some purple cauliflower, slice it into small, holdable pieces, roast in the oven until soft. Her highchair tray – sprinkled with a rainbow of purple cauliflower, avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, and cannelloni beans (previously cooked and frozen for when I need them) – would be quite pretty to look at were it not made of grey plastic. I digress. She eats about a third of it. The other two-thirds end up in her lap. She’s learning.
All that to say: There is ONE food that she allows me, or anyone, to spoon feed her. And that is this cereal with fruit, the recipe for which I’m about to share. It takes a little effort on the weekend, and then you have cereal with fruit for weeks with zero effort. If I could suggest one recipe to anyone interested in making even some of your baby’s food, it’d be this one.
Multigrain Cereal With Fruit (for weeks and weeks!)
- A handful each of several whole grains – your pick. For example, I use farro, oat groats, millet, hulled barley, and brown rice. Quinoa would be another excellent pick.
- A whole bunch of your fruit of choice. Either a huge bag of apples, or several cartons of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Depends on if you want apple cereal, pear cereal, or mixed berry cereal. A warning. If you do mixed berries, you may want to do apples too, separately. That’s because cooked berries are not naturally sweet, and by adding some homemade applesauce you can sweeten them (without them tasting apple-y).
Now, here’s how you make it…
For the grains.
- Grind the grains together in the food processor, as close to a powder as you can get them. It may take 5 minutes or so. It’s okay if they aren’t all ground, especially as baby gets older.
- Add the powder to a pot with water and bring to a simmer, whisking as needed to prevent sticking or clumping. You will need to continuously add water as the mixture gets too thick, and taste for doneness. Just keep whisking and checking. It may take around 20 minutes. When the grains are all soft you will know that it’s done.
- Freeze this porridge mixture in ice-cube trays, then store in a glass-lock container to prevent freezer burn. These are your cereal cubes. 🙂
For the fruit.
- Let’s assume you went with apples. Core, slice, peel them, you know the spiel. Put the apples in a crockpot with some cinnamon and a little lemon zest and forget about them. Your house is going to smell amazing.
- When they’re soft, take them out and either mash or puree them depending on how small your baby is (if baby likes chunks or not).
- Freeze in ice-cube trays, then store in a glass-lock container to prevent freezer burn. These are your fruit cubes.
Now each morning, grab 2 cereal cubes and 1 fruit cube. Are you feeling sorry for my baby because she’s eating a frozen meal each morning? Don’t. It tastes amazing. Like a fruit cobbler for babies. You will want to eat it yourself. But you don’t get to because your baby will eat it all. And I am pretty sure frozen whole grains and fruit are better for her than the boxed stuff.
The mixed berry version:
- Toss several cartons of various organic (my doctor says its best to buy organic berries because of the pesticides used on non-organic berries) berries into a pot with a little lemon zest, orange zest, and a few cubes of the applesauce. Cook gently for a few minutes until the berries are soft and begin to fall apart. This won’t take long.
- Puree to desired consistency. Taste for a subtle sweetness. If the berries are still too tart, add more applesauce cubes. The sweetness from the applesauce will actually make the berries taste more like berries, believe it or not.
- Freeze in ice cube trays, then store in glass-lock containers to prevent freezer burn. These taste good 1 berry cube to 2 cereal cubes. Mix in a little fresh banana for a banana-berry cereal!
This is also really tasty for grown-ups.
If all that seems like a lot of work, well, it isn’t. Especially considering this will last forever, and you’ll be feeding your baby a really healthy meal that she loves every morning with absolutely no work, after the initial batch is made.
We’ve also done pears. Now that summer is here, I’m going to start mixing fresh fruits into the cereal. I’m thinking fresh mangos will be yummy!
*By the way, I also used to mash baked sweet potato or butternut squash into the grain porridge for another yummy, healthy option.