Friday, March 15, 2013

Babyfood Friday: Bell Peppers

I make my own baby food.  I know a lot of people freak out when I say that, like I'm some super-star mom and how-can-you-have-time-for-that?  So, I thought, some of my friends out there might like to see how easy and not time intensive it is.  

What I typically do, is starting at about 4 months old, I start looking for super sales on vegetables, and then buy a bunch and make one batch of baby food every week.  Then by the time they are 6 months, I have a stash of 8 or so different things to pick from, (plus the stand-by rice cereal, mashed banana, and mashed avocado) and by the time I run out of them, they're old enough to eat "real food".

In fact, with Peach, we had a bunch of baby food left over, so I just threw it in spaghetti or macaroni and cheese for a little extra veggie power and nobody could even tell the difference.

Would you throw extra store-bought baby food into your dinner?  

I wouldn't.  That stuff is creepy.

Which begs the question...  if I wouldn't eat it, how can I expect my baby to?

Not only is it not painful at all, but it is SOOO much cheaper and tastes SOOOO much better than the stuff in a jar.  Have you ever compared the color of Gerber peas to frozen, microwaved and pureed ones?  They don't even look like they could have possibly come from the same plant.  Gerber peas look creepy and old and brown.  Frozen peas turn into a bright, fun, party green.  Are you going to feed your kids party peas or poop peas...  I wonder why kids don't want to eat them...

I know all kids are different, and I'm starting to notice The Frog and Peach snub their nose at new things I cook up for dinner, BUT they both eat their vegetables and I've never had problems getting to do so.  My untested hypothesis is that this is largely because 1)My husband and I eat our vegetables like it's no big deal.  They don't have any picky examples to look up to and 2) cooking my own baby food gives them a more pleasant first experience with vegetables.  

These past few weeks (including now!) Sprouts (used to be Sunflower market) is selling red bell peppers for 3/$1.  That is our first winner!  So this batch of baby food costs $1.33 and ended up making 11 servings.  I can't find any red bell pepper baby food to buy anywhere online (look what else!  if you make your own, you can expand your baby's palate!) but I found 8 servings of apple banana baby food at walmart for $3.92.  

Homemade - $1.33/11 = $0.12 per 1 oz. serving
Store bought - $3.92/8 = $0.49 per serving

and funny because bell peppers are much more expensive (typically) than apples and bananas.

Ok, ok... there is something to be said for convenience.  I agree.  But I think when you see how easy this is, AND the fact that I'm doing it ahead means the pressure is off to get it ready before lunch, it's a really easy, chill thing to get done.  And it happens in several quick steps, so it's the perfect project to take on when you have a baby, since you usually don't get long chunks of time to get things done.

Homemade Roasted Red Bell Pepper Baby Food.
1) Preheat oven to 500 degree.

2) Wash bell peppers.  Place on foil-lined or Silpat-lined jellyroll pan.
3) Bake in oven 30-40 minutes, or until blackened and shriveling.  (I did 40 minutes)  Your house will smell gooooood.
4) Cover with foil and let cool off until cold enough to handle. (or in my case, several hours until my kids were in the tub)
They should look all sad and puddley now.
ok, so far, each step has independently taken less than 1 minute.  This next step is the most painful, in that it might take you 6 minutes.  (I guess it depends on how many peppers you roasted)
5) Skin and deseed the peppers, and put the goods in your blender/food processor.  (I *heart* my CuisinArt 3-cup food processor)

I don't even use a knife for this step...  I just roll up my sleeves, hold the pepper upside-down, and pull the stem.  It will just slide right off and most of the seeds with it.  Then, just start pulling the skin off... it comes fairly easily, if you baked them long enough.
The goods
If you used foil, now just chuck that whole mess in the garbage.  If your me, you will now have to clean your Silpat.
The leftovers
6) Mixy mix until smooth.
So, I happened upon these silicone ice cube trays at T.J.Maxx (I almost always leave that store with something I never knew I needed...) because I had no ice cube trays in grad school, and I am often attracted to green.  Anyway...
7) Pour into ice cube tray, cover with plastic wrap and pop in the freezer until you have a moment to pop them out and stick them in a labeled freezer bag.

Now, when you need to feed your babe, you can pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  PS. I ALWAYS taste it first to make sure it's not too hot.  (and i would never do that with store-bought baby food.  have I mentioned it creeps me out...)


*update: the Walmart baby food ones are 3.5 oz per serving, which is WAY too much for a baby learning to eat, but maybe a good amount for older kids (except, I don't give older kids babyfood... it's easier to just give them what everyone else is eating!)  But, in fairness, this would make theirs only .14 per oz.  However, we're comparing bell peppers (expensive) to apples and bananas (inexpensive), and mine is still cheaper...

But really, even if it weren't cheaper, it would still be worth it to me to know my baby is getting fresh food with minimal processing.

so there.


Anonymous said...

You are doing great. I could never feed my kids store-bought food, since I wouldn't eat it myself. Plus, when you make it yourself, you have a greater variety and better taste. I think that has made all the difference for my kids.

People will mock you, but you are doing the right thing.


Lindsay said...

Mmm. Love the bright bell pepper puree. Makes me feel like making a red pepper spagetti sauce! Anyway, do your kids like meat? That's what I'm having trouble with Kate lately. She'll always willing to put it in her mouth once, and then she spits it out.

Maureen Hallworth said...

Do you think you could do any color pepper like this?

MommaMcCarthy said...

yes, any color would work, but I think red, orange and yellow have sweeter flavors (and orange and yellow are usually more expensive than red.)