How to Make Baby Food

baby-food-1

Once you get your pediatrician’s approval to feed solids to your infant, it’s not difficult to make baby purees. With the right tools (and during the baby’s 30-minute nap) you can make fresh and healthy baby food for your little one. Not to mention it saves so much money, and you know that your little one is eating the freshest and healthiest food.

Tools Needed:
A food processor or blender, a saucepan, and a spoon

                         

Most likely you have these tools already. I like using the food processor over the blender because it gives a smooth consistency and it’s a great tool for home cooks because it can do several things whereas a blender just, well, blends. Which is fine for making baby food, but look into a food processor if you don’t have one already. I use mine for making pesto, salsa, nut butter, rice flour, pie crust, grating cheese, slicing veggies and so much more!

I would stay away from purchasing fancy baby food processors specifically for baby food because they have small capacities and it’s just another appliance in my kitchen that I won’t use after baby grows up. Same goes for a baby food steamer and blender-in-one. What will you use it for after the baby turns 1? Take that money and buy a real food processor or blender with a larger capacity you can use for years to come. You won’t regret it! Even this Cuisinart one is cheaper than a Baby Bullet.

Foods to Start With:
I like to introduce babies first to fruits because of the high sugar content similar to breast milk and formula. Some good ones to start off with are a banana, avocado, apple or pear, and even some sweet veggies like sweet potato and butternut squash.

Microsoft Word - how-to-make-baby-food.docx Here is a recipe chart as a guideline for how to start. I started the chart at 6 months but you can begin once your pediatrician gives the OK. Begin with 1 ingredient purees when introducing solids to infants. Switch the ingredient every 3 days to look out for possible allergies. After a couple months of trying out some new foods, add a new ingredient to the recipe. After another couple of months, you can try some proteins and nut butter. Since nuts are high on the list of allergens, start with just a 1/4 teaspoon to the recipe.

Prepare, Serve and Store: 
1. Boil hard vegetables and fruits for 5 minutes or until they are fork tender. A pinch of salt is optional but I recommend it for veggies. Never feed honey to infants under 1 year.

2. Blend ingredients with a little bit of the cooking liquid to retain as many vitamins and nutrients back into the food. For more nutrition, you can use breastmilk or formula instead of the cooking liquid. I like using breastmilk/formula with baby’s first foods because they are already familiar with the taste.

3. Serve at body temperature. If you microwave to warm the food up, do so in 20-second intervals while stirring in between.  Or place the baby’s bowl on top of the bottle warmer for a gentle heat. I check the temperature by putting the food on my inner wrist to feel for temp or taste it with a clean spoon.

If you’ve made a batch, serve what you think your baby will eat in one sitting and throw away any uneaten food so you don’t contaminate the rest of the batch with bacteria from baby’s saliva.

4. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to 2 months.

That is a basic introduction of how to make baby food. I’ve been having fun trying things on Drew lately and love watching her facial reaction when she tries something new. Peek over to my recipe for Broccoli and Avocado Baby Food to see how I make it at home.

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Berry Tart with Lemon Cookie Crust

Fourth of July is coming quickly and I always associate this summer holiday with barbecues and a fresh berry treat. This summer berry tart is perfect for the holiday. It carries all the patriotic colors and it’s fresh, cool, and delicious.

I’ve switched it up by using a Meyer lemon cookie crust. You can get some at on Amazon – I got mine at CostcoBut even a graham cracker or Nilla wafer crust will do. I think the lemon cookie crust adds a bit more sunshine to this summer dessert.

berry-tart-3berry-tart-5berry-tart-7berry-tart-8berry-tart-10berry-tart-cover

Ingredients:
Crust:
10 oz Salem Baking Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins
1/4 cup white sugar
8 Tbs melted butter

Pastry Cream Filling:
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbs cornstarch
2 large eggs
4 Tbs unsalted butter cut in 4 pieces
2 – 8oz carton raspberries
1 – 8oz carton blueberries
zest of 1 small lemon

Meyer Lemon Cookie Crust
In a food processor, slightly grind the cookies until course. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse until the ingredients come together to look like wet sand. Pour the crust into a spring-form pan or a tart pan and flatten out. If you’re using a spring-form pan (like me cause I don’t have a tart pan), bring the crust up the wall of the pan halfway to hold in the fillings. Bake at 350 degrees Farenheight for 15 mins. Cool in room temperature once it’s finished.

Filling
Cut the vanilla bean in half length-wise. Scrape out the glorious caviar inside each half of the bean. In a medium saucepan slowly heat the milk, vanilla bean, and sugar under low heat. Go ahead and throw in the empty vanilla pods in there too to get all the vanilla flavor out of the bean. Constantly stir the milk making sure it does not burn at the bottom. Once milk burns you have to start fresh, and that’s just a waste of vanilla beans! Do not let the milk boil. Turn it off once you begin to see little bubbles forming around the edges. Take out the vanilla pods.

In a medium mixing bowl, crack the eggs and whisk. Whisk in the salt and cornstarch. Temper the egg mixture. Meaning, pour about 1/3 of the warm milk into the eggs and stir. Then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan back with the milk. This prevents the eggs from getting shocked by the heat and scrambling. Turn the low heat back on. Now we want to slowly simmer this custard so the cornstarch activates and can thicken the mixture. Again constantly stir and keep an eye on the simmer. Once it comes to a simmer and begins to thicken you can turn it off and pour it in a mixing bowl as it will continue to cook. Take a tablespoon of butter and whisk it in until it melts. Repeat until you do all 4 tablespoons of butter. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent a film from forming and refrigerate for 2 hours.

After everything has cooled, it’s time to assemble! Pour the chilled custard into the tart crust. Spread out evenly with a spatula. Place fresh raspberries one at a time on top of the custard covering the entire surface. Sprinkle blueberries in the gaps. Zest a lemon over the entire tart. This is where I would tell you to chill the tart for another couple hours before cutting into it but I didn’t becuase I don’t have strong will power. So I’ll let you decide.

Broccoli and Avocado Baby Food

broccoli-and-avocado-baby-food-1My daughter started eating baby food at 5 months. I like to make it at home because I know she is getting healthy and fresh food. Don’t get me wrong, I will buy baby food pouches for when I don’t have time to make her food or when we’re on the go, but if you have 30 mins you can make healthy baby food for the next several days or make more and freeze it to last longer.

Here’s a simple broccoli and avocado recipe I used a few weeks into starting solids. Her first food was avocado so I knew she would like this version.

broccoli-and-avocado-baby-food-1-2Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 5-7 mins

Ingredients:
1 half avocado
1/4 head of broccoli, stalks separated
pinch of salt

Bring water and salt to boil in a small saucepan. Boil broccoli until fork tender, about 5-7 mins. In a food processor, puree avocado and cooked broccoli. Add the boiled water a little bit at a time until ingredients come together in a smooth puree. 

broccoli-and-avocado-baby-food-2Adding the cooking liquid incorporates some of the vitamins and minerals that has seeped out of the vegetables during the boiling process back into the food. You can also use breastmilk or formula as the liquid to add even more vitamins into baby’s food, but the cooking liquid is fine as she still gets most of her nutrients through her milk when she feeds. Introducing solids is just that, an introduction to get used to all the different flavors and to practice using her tongue to move food to the back of her throat.

So far, Drew loves avocado, apples, broccoli, mango, and hates carrots. LOL, much like her dad.

What was your child’s first solid and how did they like it?

Herb Roasted Veggies

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and every year I make the feast, but this year I have a newborn and a toddler; getting busier every year with a growing family. So every year I try to think of ways to deliver the feast without all the work, like the year I made a Thanksgiving meal in 1 hour.
Herb roasted veggies is one of my quick side dishes, getting it done in 20 minutes or less. This time I used brussel sprouts and baby carrots both bagged and prewashed from the grocer. I pretty much buy most of my veggies bagged and prewashed. It makes all the difference in the world to a new mom. Ain’t nobody got time to wash and chop veggies!

 

Herb Roasted Carrots and Brussel Sprouts
Serves: 3-4
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins

Ingredients:
1 bag prewashed brussel sprouts
1/2 small bag baby carrots
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried herbs 
2 Tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 F
Cut sprouts in half or in quarters for larger sprouts. 
Toss everything in a roasting pan ensuring all the veggies get good coverage of seasonings and oil. 
Roast in oven at 425 F for 15 minutes and flip veggies halfway through to cook evenly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it! It’s really just 5 mins of work while the oven does the rest so you can work on the other sides while this is going.

Try usung different veggies if you like, just make sure they are all somewhat the same size so they all cook evenly. Some other good veggies to use or to add on are broccoli, cauliflower, thinly cut squash, bell peppers, and smaller cubes of potato so they all cook in just 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Night Market

This weekend is the 626 Night Market. Similar to the night markets in Asia with dozens of food vendors, this is the largest one in the U.S.! I’ve been going for the past few years because I’m originally from the 626 (the area code of the San Gabriel Valley) and have always found the best Asian mom and pop eateries at the Night Market. This year the 626 Night Market team opened their doors for the first time to Downtown LA and Orange County. Here’s my recap of the DTLA Night Market from a couple weeks ago.

mango macaron ice cream sandwich
chicken and lamb skewers
Thai iced tea with a cream popsicle
dragon whiskers, a Chinese dessert
grilled pork belly
melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs
Hope to see you at one of this summer’s Night Market! Oh, and word to the wise, beware of the stinky tofu stench, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the festivities =D
Santa Anita Park
285 W Huntington Dr.
Arcadia, CA 91107
July 18 & 19
Aug 15 & 16
Sep 12 & 13
4pm – 1am

Coconut Coladas

Happy Summer! (insert emoticon of sun) I’ve been going kinda emoticon crazy on Instagram lately. I’m so excited for these warm nights, eating dinner outside, drinking cocktails with friends, and sharing some of my favorite summer recipes.
My friends at Veev sent me a bottle of their new Vita Frute cocktail to try out. This coconut colada flavor is made with coconut water and pineapple juice already mixed in with their Veev Acai spirit, and it’s under 125 calories per serving. Basically you can just add ice and enjoy! But you must know me by now. I like to “shake things up,” so I made a couple summer cocktails to pair with their coconut colada.
I love pina coladas so when I got this bottle I immediately started thinking of relaxing on the beach and cocktails that I would like to enjoy while on vacation. I created a Lime & Kiwi cocktail and a Lava Flow (which is pina colada with strawberry sauce). I also tried to keep the calories low by using real fruits and a coconut milk beverage instead of coconut cream which is typically used in pina coladas.  You can find the coconut milk beverage next to the soy milk and almond milk in your grocery store.
Lime & Kiwi Coconut Colada
4 oz Veev Coconut Colada
1 kiwi, scooped 
juice of 1 lime
3 Tbs simple syrup 
ice
 
Blend the lime juice, kiwi fruit and simple syrup in a blender. Pour into a glass filled with ice. Top off with Veev Coconut Colada and stir.
 
Strawberry & Coconut Colada (or Lava Flow Colada)
4 oz Veev Coconut Colada
4 oz coconut milk beverage
strawberries with tops removed
3 Tbs simple syrup
ice
 
Blend the strawberries with 4 oz of coconut milk beverage and simple syrup. Pour into a glass filled with ice. Top off with Veev Coconut Colada and stir.
 
Simple Syrup
4 Tbs white sugar
4 Tbs hot water
 
Dissolve the sugar in the hot water. There is a little extra so you can add more syrup to your drinks to taste.
 
How are you spending your summer? This was not a paid sponsorship so you can trust that all these ideas are my own =) Show me your coconut colada creations by tagging #crazy4coconutcolada

LA Guide: Doughnuts

Today is National Doughnut Day! So I’ve rounded my go-tos for some of my favorite doughnut spots in LA. I’m a classic, chocolate doughnut lover but I really love any kind of fried dough (I mean, who doesn’t?) Where are you going to celebrate National Doughnut Day?

1. Olympic Doughnuts #14 // A classic donut shop that is open 24 hrs. They’re doughnuts are fresh and satisfy your sweet tooth without being overly sweet.
2337 E 4th St Los Angeles, CA 90033 (323) 263-2365

 

2. Frances Bakery & Coffee // I wouldn’t really consider this a donut shop but I can’t help but love their specialty, the Frances Donut. Tip: ask if they have the strawberry flavor. They slice it in half and fill it with fresh strawberries. Yum!
404 E 2nd St Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 680-4899

3. Umami Arts District // Guess what? Umami has doughnut ice cream sandwiches! This one was an apple fritter with vanilla bean ice cream, but they also have a bacon doughnut with maple ice cream. NOM!
738 E 3rd St Lo Angeles, CA 90013 (323) 263-8626

4. Donut Snob // Gourmet doughnuts made with the finest ingredients like Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and chocolate ganache made from Belgian chocolate. Seriously amazing creations like the “Campfire” pictured above, think, the best s’more you’ve ever had.
Deliveries only. Los Angeles, CA (213) 373-4898

5. DK’s Donuts and Bakery // If  you are looking for variety, this is the place to go. They’ve got raised donuts, baked donuts, bear claws, O-nuts, filled donuts, you name it!
614 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90404 (310) 829-2512

6. Cafe Dulce // They’ve got some unique flavors. I specifically like their spirulina churro which is not a churro like you would think, it’s round, fluffy, chewy and covered in sugar. But spirulina is a seaweed that’s a superfood so it’s healthy, right?
134 Japanese Village Plaza Los Angeles, CA (213) 346-9910

Honorable Mentions:
Donut Friend // Custom made-to-order donuts with lots of vegan options. Just tell them what you want in and on top of your doughnut and your wish is their command!
517 York Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90065 (213) 955-6191

The Donut Man // I would drive out of the way just to get a strawberry stuffed doughnut when they are in season.
915 E Route 66 Glendora, CA 91740 (626) 335-9111