Homemade Baby: Roasted Eggplant Caponata


“How can people say they don’t eat eggplant when God loves the color and the French love the name? I don’t understand.”- Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet)

Caponata is an italian dish often served as a dip, made with eggplant, olives and onions seasoned with herbs.  Simply put – it’s delicious, so why not let your baby try some? Roasting vegetables instead of steaming adds a great dimension to baby food, one that will be greatly appreciated.  The veggies develop a nice sweetness and flavour from baking at a high temperature.

Suitable at 8 months*

Makes about 3 cups

1 baby eggplant, peeled
1 tomato
1 garlic clove
1 onion
1/2 red bell pepper seeded
extra virgin olive oil
pinch of oregano

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Chop everything and toss with one tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.  Spread onto a roasting sheet and roast for 30 minutes, mixing once. Transfer to a blender and puree (or mash with a fork) until desired consistency is reached, adding a little water if needed. Serve with a sprinkling of dried oregano.

*Always check with your paediatrician before introducing any new food to your baby. 

 

Healthy Quinoa and Zucchini Fritters

“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” – Barbara Johnson

This is a perfect finger food for foodie babies using leftover quinoa! Each fritter with packed with the wholesome goodness of quinoa and zucchini, and the parmesan cheese gives it a tasty bite! Alternatively, you can serve this fritter as an appetizer with a dollop of crème fraiche.

Adapted from The Scrumptious Pumpkin

Make about 12 fritters

2 zucchini, grated
1 tsp salt
1 cup quinoa, cooked
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp garlic, minced
4 green onions, fine chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a small mixing bowl, sprinkle salt over the grated zucchini. Let this sit for a few minutes and then transfer to a strainer. The salt will help extract the liquid from the zucchini. After 15 minutes, give the zucchini a squeeze to remove all the moisture and transfer to a medium-sized bowl.

Combine all the remaining ingredients with the zucchini. Form into ¼-in thick patties. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook fritters on a single layer for 4-6 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Homemade Baby: Berry Breakfast

“I’m just like you.  I enjoy the forbidden fruits in life, too.” – Mike Tyson

This is a healthy and delicious puree to mix into your baby’s oatmeal cereal for breakfast.  Blueberries, often referred to as “super foods”, are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  What a great way to start your little one’s day!

Makes about 2 cups
Suitable for 8 months 

1 medium royal gala apple, diced
1 anjou pear, diced
1/2 cup blueberries
pinch of cinnamon

Place all the fruit in a steamer basket over a pot filled with an inch of water.  Steam fruit for about 10 minutes, until tender.  Immersion blend, adding a little of the reserved water to create a nice consistency.  For an added flavour boost, add a pinch of cinnamon and stir into your baby’s oatmeal.  Breakfast is served!

Check with your baby’s paediatrician before introducing any new foods.

Tyler Florence helps your baby “Start Fresh” – A Cookbook Review

“It’s time to stop making excuses about what we put on our tables and in our children’s bodies and recognize that companies that produce cheap food are not doing you any favours.” – Tyler Florence

Tyler is one of our favorites here at Scratch is Better, so we knew in order to create some new baby food recipes, we’d have to give his cookbook Start Fresh a try. Tyler’s philosophy is simple: Forge a foundation early on with your children for a healthy relationship with food that will last a lifetime. This cookbook is good one to keep handy since it begins from single-ingredient purees (4-6 month old baby) all the way through 12 months and beyond. So it’s not just a baby cookbook, rather a cookbook that speaks to the whole family.

Tyler’s recipes explain the importance of making baby food taste as good as food you would serve to the entire family. Nothing is fake or processed and he encourages you buy certified organic whenever possible. We like that he simplifies preparing baby food. All you need is a steamer basket and a blender, which you probably already have in your kitchen. He also suggests roasting fruits and vegetables instead of just steaming – adding a different, yet tastier dimension to the food.

The single-ingredient purees are a no-brainer but the rest of the sections – the flavor combinations he suggests are pure genius! He claims his parsnip, pear and fig puree tastes like Christmas – we couldn’t resist trying it out! The mango, carrot and apple puree is so delicious even we licked the spoon! We really enjoyed his Turkey Meatball Stroganoff and it has definitely made its way into our weekly rotation.  Tyler even includes a recipe for Baked Halibut fish sticks, which is kid friendly and easy to prepare.  The mantra of sitting down and eating dinner together as a family never gets old and Tyler makes this act seem doable and necessary.

Even though Tyler focuses on fresh healthy foods, we found that a few of the recipes, especially the stage two section (6-9 months) contained a heavy salt and sugar content. Many fruits and vegetables already have a natural sweet taste so there really is no need to expose children to extra salt and sugar. He also encourages you to add Parmesan cheese and maple syrup to baby food recipes, which we thought was unnecessary. We just omitted these ingredients when trying out his recipes, and the results were still fantastic!

There are a lot of excellent baby food books out there, but we found Start Fresh to stand out. Tyler allows us to gain appreciation for creating not just edible food for children, but tasty and flavorful food combinations that are healthy. By the end of the book, you will think twice before opening up a jar of runny goopy fruits and vegetables that are slopped together. Of course we all just want what is best and healthiest for our baby and Tyler hits it with the nail on the head – by starting fresh.

Here is one of our favourites from the cookbook:

Carrot, Apple, Mango Puree

IMG_0007
Sunshine puree…

In his book, Start Fresh, Tyler claims this puree to be “one of the best things I’ve made”- so naturally we had to give it try! This beautiful puree has a wonderful sweetness that makes it very delicious. Your little one is in for a treat!

Taken from Start Fresh by Tyler Florence

Makes about 2 ½ cups

1 mango, peeled and cut into chunks.
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 apples, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a roasting sheet with parchment and add all the ingredients. Roast for about 20 minutes, until carrots are soft and tender. Puree with a hand blender or Vitamix.

Homemade Baby: Green Magic Puree

“First we eat, then we do everything else.” -M.F.K. Fisher

It’s called Green Magic for a reason. Once your baby gets a lick, it disappears! Try this puree for a healthy and nutritious way of introducing your baby to his or her first taste of greens.

Makes 4 cups
Age 7 months* + 

2 cups broccoli florets diced
1 cup green beans trimmed and diced
½ sweet potato diced
1 medium Anjou pear diced small
1 cup water

Place broccoli, green beans, potato, and pear in a medium sized pot and add water. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat about 15-20 minutes, until everything is tender. Using an immersion blender, puree the ingredients until it resembles a smooth thick soup.

*Check with your paediatrician before introducing any new foods to your baby.