Best Homemade Baby Food
Whether it's craft projects or food, I have always loved making things from scratch. And one thing I suspect the voracious Violet will appreciate in the coming year is homemade baby food. I was a pureeing fiend when Laurel was a baby, but this go around I'm even more excited about experimenting with baby food because I'll be able to draw inspiration from both the locally grown bounty of our CSA, and the remarkably good looking recipes in The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet.
When I pureed for Laurel, my tendency was to present her with single flavors, probably because I simply followed the order of presentation charts from one of my baby books (and maybe also because I was too tired to think creatively). Best Homemade Baby Food provides such a chart, but then proceeds to dish up over 200 easy recipes (for babies and toddlers 6-24 months) spanning simple introductory purees to a variety of fruit/veggie combos and big kid recipes that I'm actually interested in tasting myself and might try to entice Laurel to try (I'm always on the lookout for interesting ways to present veggies).
Recipes include cheerful titles (e.g., "Nummy Nut Butter Kisses"), simple to follow instructions, serving size recommendations, and nutritional information, and annotations about produce (e.g., which apples make for a particularly awesome apple puree) are helpful throughout. Recipes that freeze well are marked with a snowflake, and I especially like that recipes cross reference one another. For example, if you puree and freeze (using ice cube trays to create one tablespoon servings) a batch of Wee-licious Potato, it will serve well on its own, and also later when you're ready to try presenting the Green Pea and Potato Garden Puree, among other recipes.
Best Homemade Baby Food also includes helpful tips (e.g., how to introduce purees), nutritional reference information (e.g., what protein does for the body, which foods provide it, and how much kids need). And as a data collector by nature and training, I especially like the book's concluding feedback chart, which orders all the recipes in the book so you can keep track of recipes tried, any edits to presentation, and whether your baby/toddler did or did not like it (yay for rating scales!).
I know that making baby food can seem intimidating, but with a few key tools (e.g., a steamer and food processor), it's actually super easy and saves on cost and packaging waste. And if you gradually load up your freezer with ice cube sized serving nuggets, you'll have a wealth of options to encourage your little one on to having a happy relationship with both fruits and vegetables. The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet is a great guide for inspiration from the puree stage and beyond.