Tag Archives: Homemade Baby Food

Anasazi Bean Burgers

Skip to the recipe. Update 13 years after this was first published: we still make this anasazi bean burger recipe on the regular! We often refer back to this post for the recipe, even though it’s pretty simple. My husband over the years has pointed out a few places clarifications were needed. Here are the primary changes in the 2024 update:

  • Fixes for clarity and tips after making it on rotation for over a decade.
  • Doubled the recipe because we always double it now. (You could cut in half if cooking for two, or else freeze the uncooked patties.)
  • I’ve added how to cook the beans with a pressure cooker – because pressure cookers, like our basic Instant Pot (Amazon link), are time saving!
  • Confession: we don’t grow our own beans any more. We usually buy the anasazis in bulk online and store them in mason jars with silicon lids.
Anasazi Bean Burger from BabyBirdsFarm.com

(Original post): My mom was visiting last weekend. We had a nice visit and she checked out this blog. She let me know that I am again taking after my great-grandmother, Alpha, who wrote an article on Victory Gardens during World War II. I have always felt an affinity for this ancestor despite never meeting. Alpha (her father planned on working through the Greek alphabet except she was an only child) was an artist who studied under John Sloan. She was also a Long Island socialite who threw legendary Prohibition Era parties, attended by artists like author Thorton Wilder, who was supposedly in love with her. Before our urban farm days, I was known to host a party or two.

So I am all the more happy to carry on the tradition of championing Victory Gardens today. As much as we love fresh salads, tomatoes, and herbs like basil and mint, “salad” type items are actually not the best way to maximize a home garden. To really get the benefit of a “victory garden” try to plant calorie dense items, like potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans. Beans are an amazing source of protein, fiber and nutrients and my favorites by far are Anasazi Beans. They are a slightly sweet Heirloom bean, pretty and speckled maroon and white. If I were to describe the taste, I’d describe it as how the most awesome pinto bean should taste. They cook faster than other dried beans (they don’t need to presoak) and don’t have as much of the compounds found in other beans that can cause gas.

anasazi beans are easy to grow in zones 9-10

Plus, there is the legend of the beans…. Botanists may dispute the factual basis, but the story is that a dusty, sealed crock was found by archeologists in the ancient ruins of the Anasazi Indians, and lo and behold, the beans were viable and reintroduced to our diets. I have fond memories of exploring Mesa Verde and the dwellings of “the Ancient Ones,” carved into the stone, with my family as a child.

You can find Anasazis in the bulk section of a lot of grocery stores now, as well as online. Papa Bird has been growing them the last few years. One of the things I find “magical” about a bean is that it contains its future in itself. The bean is simply the seed. You can sprout and plant the beans from the grocery isle if you like. (I think we started from a bag I bought at the farmer’s market.) We try to remember to reserve a few from each harvest to plant the following year.

anasazi bean burger ingredients

Anasazi Bean Burger Recipe

My husband usually feels more satisfied with a little meat in a meal, but he makes an exception for Anasazi Bean Burgers. They are my favorite veggie burger and I hope you enjoy. Adapted from Moon Time/The Elk Restaurant.

Servings: 8 burgers

  • 2 cups dried Anasazi beans
  • filtered water, enough to go up twice the height of the beans in the pot
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin(optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Magic seasoning blend (link to our fav), smoked paprika (link to similar), and/or cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • Approximately 1 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • brioche or other yummy burger buns
  • your favorite “burger fixings” such as a sharp cheddar, caramelized or pickled onions, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, aioli…

Step 1
Distinctive-looking Anasazi beans have a unique, slightly nutty flavor and firm texture, and don’t need to be pre-soaked. You could pre-soak, in which case, cut the cooking time in half. Rinse the beans in fresh water. Add to pot with enough water that it is twice the height of the beans. Add 1/2 tsp of cumin, garlic and bay leaf to the water. If using a pressure cooker (Amazon link), cook 30 minutes at pressure (30 minutes if unsoaked – 15 minutes if presoaked), let sit for 5 minutes, and then release pressure. If boiling in a normal pot, boil uncovered for 1 hour (unsoaked) or 30 minutes (if soaked.) They should be soft but not mushy. Strain and let cool enough to handle. Discard the bay leaf and squeeze the gooey goop from inside the garlic cloves onto the beans, discarding the hard coating.

Step 2
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Sauté the diced onion, carrot, bell pepper, and add remaining cumin, spices, and salt/pepper. Let cool slightly.

Step 3
Mash the beans with a fork, or a mashed potato masher, or break up the beans using your hands. Add the sautéed veggies to the chopped beans. This is a great time to taste the mix and add more spices and seasoning. Once tasting good, stir in the eggs and bread crumbs.

Step 4
Form the patties (I usually do 4 patties the first night and save the rest of the “batter” in the refrigerator for night two. We have also made sliders). Next, sauté the patties in oil until they’re golden, about 5 minutes on each side over medium high heat. I find starting the patties in a cold pan gets a nice crust. Tips: try not to move them around too much before flipping and add another splash of oil before placing the second side down. Add a slice of cheddar to the top of the patty when almost done and melt it a little in the pan. Serve on a bun with typical burger “fixings” (i.e. tomato, lettuce, pickle, avocado, mustard, ketchup, siracha, etc.)


Although Anasazi beans don’t cause as much gas as other beans, it never hurts to add a little cumin, bay leaf and/or epazote to the cooking water. All three are classic flavorings for beans and are carminative, meaning they help reduce gas when cooked with beans.

Feel free to substitute another bean in this recipe if you can’t find Anasazis, but you will probably want to presoak them before cooking.

Tips for Cooking for Baby:

Reserve some of the “batter” with all the ingredients added, minus the egg. Blend or grind in a baby food mill. Add a little breastmilk, maybe some avocado. Delicious! Babies love the naturally sweet taste of beans and they are an excellent vegetarian source of protein.

For a baby that is ready for finger foods, cooked beans (e.g., Anasazi, black or pinto) and sautéed, diced veggies are excellent ways to practice pincher skills. If it is the first time, if your beans are still on the crunchy side, or if you are just paranoid, feel free to cut the beans in half or squeeze each one between your fingers to mush it a little and make it easier for baby to gum.

Updated 2.19.24 to optimize the anasazi bean burger recipe, including the option of a pressure cooker. Updated 1.5.13 to add a photo of the burger. Originally posted 8.21.12. -Mama Bird

Pomegranate and Lamb Moussaka with Cardamon

Finally! This is a recipe I have been wanting to share since I first made it six months ago. I made up this variation of lamb moussaka after going to a new Middle Eastern grocery store in town and finding pomegranate concentrate.* This pomegranate and lamb moussaka with cardamon instantly became a “keeper,” a regular go-to meal in my rotation. I have since made it about ten times and my family loves it.

Pomegranate and Lamb Moussaka

Traditional Greek Moussaka layers sautéed or fried eggplant, a meat and tomato sauce, and is topped with Béchamel or white sauce (butter, flour and milk.) Some say it is analogous to lasagna for Americans, but I say it is more like a Shepard’s pie. My take on the classic Greek dish highlights tart pomegranate instead of tomato paste or sauce and flavors the meat with fragrant cardamon. I also lighten it up by making a quick egg and milk custard with Greek yogurt instead of Béchamel, and by roasting the eggplant slices instead of frying. Both changes also make the recipe a little faster. I was inspired by two of my favorite Middle Eastern restaurants, a Persian restaurant, Soltan Banoo, that serves an amazing pomegranate soup, and a Lebanese joint, Mama’s Bakery, where I love the beef shwarma, heavily scented with cardamon.

*About pomegranate molasses vs. pomegranate concentrate: Pomegranate molasses is a sweet and sour syrup used in Middle Eastern cuisine. As a “secret ingredient” in stews and sauces, it gives an amazing flavor that can be hard to place. Pomegranate concentrate tastes similar, but is made solely of reduced pomegranate juice, without the added sugar, preservatives and flavor enhancers molasses often has. If you don’t have either, substitute pomegranate juice, ideally reduced a little to make it more concentrated in flavor. Or just use the more traditional tomato paste!

Pomegranate and Lamb Moussaka

Pomegranate and Lamb Moussaka Recipe

  • 2 medium to large eggplant
  • coconut oil spray or 1 Tablespoon avocado oil, coconut oil or olive oil

For the meat layer:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • onion, carrot, celery, garlic
  • 1 pound ground lamb and/or beef
  • 2 teaspoons cardamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate concentrate, molasses or juice (find at middle Eastern stores like North Park Produce and if you can’t find it, substitute tomato paste)

For the custard layer:

  • 6-8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • Pistachios, chopped kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese

Peel, slice and salt the eggplant. Let sit for 30 minutes to draw out excess moisture and bitterness. Then pat dry and roast in a 425°F oven with a little oil until soft, flipping the slices once. (Notes: Lately I like spraying both sides of the eggplant with a little sprayable coconut oil. It distributes a nice, fine layer. Otherwise eggplant can soak up a lot of oil. Olive oil is classic, however, I try to not to use it over 325°F. Both coconut and avocado oil have higher smoking points.)

Sautée the onion, carrots, etc. in a large pan. Add the meat and spices until the meat is just browned. Add the pomegranate concentrate or tomato and turn down to a simmer until cooked through.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the yogurt, milk and seasonings.

To assemble, put the meat layer down first in a 9″ by 13″ pan. Top with the eggplant slices, then pour the custard batter into the pan. Sprinkle on the toppings then bake 25-30 minutes at 350°F until the egg is set.

Click on any photo in the gallery below to expand and see the steps.

Pin the recipe to save for later!

Pomegranate and Lamb Moussaka

Enjoy! This dish freezes well. I made a double batch in preparation for new baby. After baking, I froze it whole. To reheat it, I let it defrost in the fridge for a day and then warmed it in the oven until the center was hot.

Sprouted Hummus, Raw and (Pregnancy-Friendly) Nearly Raw Versions, Step by Step with Pictures

Who doesn’t like hummus? If you have made it at home, then you know how much more delicious and economical it is compared to store-bought hummus. Try this recipe, starting from dried chick peas or garbanzo beans to take it to the next level. Sprouting them gives an extra nutritional boost, as well as an extra sweet, nutty creaminess. And starting from dry saves a lot of money and improves the taste and texture. I have really been preferring dry beans over canned in general, and they just shine in this sprouted hummus recipe.

Sprouting Chick Peas (Garbanzos)

Sprouted Hummus: Step by Step with Pictures

  • 1 cup dried chick peas or garbanzo beans
  • fresh, filtered water (reserve cooking water if cooking)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup tahini
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of 1/2-1 1/2 lemons
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cumin, cayenne, paprika
  • (optional) zatar for serving

Special equipment: blender or food processor; coarse cheesecloth; colander

1. Sprouting: Rinse and then soak the chick peas in a bowl in fresh water, covering them up at least twice their height. We have a water filter for drinking water, and I prefer to use that. Soak for about 8 hours, they should grow and plump up. Rinse the beans in a colander, rinse out the bowl and then return them to the bowl. Add a very small amount of water, they should not be covered, just a little wet at the bottom. Cover loosely with a coarse cheesecloth and place in a cool (room temperature) place, out of direct sunlight. Every 8 hours, rinse the beans and the bowl and repeat. Continue until you see 1/4″ sprouts on most of the beans, about two days. Discard any mushy ones.

Sprouting Chick Peas on Baby Birds Farm

2. Cooking: (optional) Any kind of raw sprout is unfortunately on the “avoid” list for pregnant women, as —cats out of the bag— I know now. To eliminate any risk of bacteria AND retain much of the nutritional value, simply cook the beans for one minute only. Rinse the sprouted beans and cook in fresh water. Bring to a boil for one minute. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.

Nearly Raw Sprouted Hummus on Baby Birds Farm

3. Blending: In a good blender or food processor, add the beans, 1/2 – 1 cup of the cooking liquid (use fresh water if you did not cook your beans) and the rest of the ingredients. Start with the smaller suggested amounts. When using dried beans instead of canned, you will need to use more liquid then you are used to. If you find your blender struggling, add a little more of the cooking liquid or water. For reference, on a variable speed Vitamix, I blend for 30 seconds on “4”. Taste (and have your kitchen helper taste.) I often decide to add more of one or more ingredients, so try adding up to the larger suggested amounts.

Hummus and Toddlers: a good blend

4. Yums: Serve topped with zatar, paprika and/or a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!

Sprouted Hummus on Baby Birds Farm

Cooking with Very Small Children: Baby Bird’s Applesauce

No, the title does not refer to cooking up children for dinner. I’ll try some adventurous food, but I’m no cannibal. I’m talking about how wonderful it is to have children, even infants, helping in the kitchen. You’ve heard of farm to table, but how about tree to highchair? In one of my proudest parenting moments, my 11-month-old helped pick apples from a tree and made them into applesauce.

Baby Bird sorts her apples

We like to involve her in cooking, showing her the whole foods and every step of the process. It makes her more excited to eat the food. And we love to show her plants growing, so that she knows tomatoes come from a plant, carrots from the ground, as well as eggs from chickens. It was a wonderful experience to take her to a local orchard last fall for apple picking. Babies at this age love putting things in bowls and bags (and taking them out again.)

Baby Bird loves to help cook

When letting babies and toddlers help in the kitchen there are plenty of chores that do not involve heat or sharp knives. Since moving things from one container to another is a fun game at this stage, have little one (from 9 months on) move the apple pieces from the cutting board or a bowl into a (room temperature) pot. The pieces were too large for swallowing, in case she wanted to chew on or taste one. Mine also liked to move scraps and peel into the compost container. After 12-15 months, toddlers love to stir things, too. At 18 months, Little Bird loves to help scramble her eggs. We put a heavy bowl on the kitchen floor, let her watch us crack the eggs and she “stir, stir, stirs”!

Homemade applesauce

Baby Bird’s First Applesauce Recipe

  • apples, peeled, cored and cut in chunks
  • a few splashes of apple juice or water
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon grains of paradise
  • (optional) 1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the apples in a medium sized pot. Add enough juice or water to cover up the apples 1/3 to 1/2 the way up. No sugar is needed, as apples are naturally sweet, but if you prefer the sauce to be sweeter, choose apple juice over water. Add  the grains of paradise and salt to taste. Bring the apples up to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until they are soft and start to fall apart. Mash with a fork or the back of a spoon for a slightly chunky sauce.


Grains of Paradise are a pepper-like spice. They have less bite than black pepper and are absolutely wonderful with apples (as well as on eggs, in guacamole, and almost anywhere you would use pepper.) After trying them, I no longer like cinnamon in my apple pie or applesauce, but feel free to substitute. We keep ours in an extra pepper mill and grind as needed.

Baby Bird enjoyed her first adventure apple picking, apple bagging, sorting, eating and cooking!

Our “Baby-Centered” Approach to Introducing Solids

When our Little Bird was 4-months-old, her pediatrician (who we weren’t really crazy about already) told us that she was ready for us to start introducing solids. I was surprised, since I had heard in breastfeeding support groups to wait until 6 months. In research afterwards, the current consensus in the medical community does seem to recommend 6 months. The doctor also told us to start with rice cereal, and I had already decided NOT to start with a “white” processed food. To make it worse, she suggested sneaking a little rice cereal into her bottle, which just seemed dishonest.

Introducing Solids

We ended up switching doctors for other reasons and although I didn’t follow her advice, the visit did prompt me to start researching all about introducing solids. My previous experience feeding babies was limited to one very messy afternoon of spoonfeeding my niece, over 8 years ago, from a jar. Most of it went all over her and the kitchen and she let very little of it in her mouth. Cute, as the auntie that got to leave afterwards, but less fun day in and out. (And as it turned out she never enjoyed “baby food” –even the organic baby food her mom got her from Whole Foods– and she quickly switched to small chunks of her favorite foods.)

Here is what I knew I wanted when introducing solids:

  • To use organic, pesticide-free and non-GMO food as much as possible.
  • To use vegetables from our garden as much as possible, as well as eggs from our chickens.
  • To make as much as possible myself from scratch, time permitting.
  • To have my daughter enjoy eating, vs. forcing anything on her.
  • To follow in my mom’s footsteps, who brought a small food mill to restaurants, and fed us whatever our parents were eating.

Here is what the internet told me:

  • I could prioritize baby and our breastfeeding relationship by introducing solids according to Baby Led Weaning, where she was only given large pieces of food, and if she couldn’t chew it, oh well, she didn’t need it…
  • To make my own baby food, I should make a large batch and freeze it in small, individual servings and defrost for each of her meals.

Baby's First Taste on BabyBirdsFarm

Here is what I did that worked for us:

  • I didn’t stress!
  • We let her “eat” when we ate.
  • I followed my baby’s behavioral cues of when she was ready to start “experimenting” with solids. (For example, showing interest in our food: Baby Bird at 4 months once grabbed a handful of spicy tahini sauce from my beef shwarma, stuck it in her mouth, and said “mmmmmmm.”)
  • We did end up offering food at 5 months, but we defined “eating” in the first few months as anything from merely tasting to just playing with food.
  • From day one we involved her in the process of cooking and preparing food. It makes her more excited about the finished product. (See my post on Baby’s first Applesauce for a “tree to highchair” recipe.)
  • The first month or so, we only offered food once a week. For example, if we were eating avocado, she got to try some. After 6 months, we offered food once or twice a day.
  • I decided to go with intuition and common sense when deciding when, how and what to introduce, but I did boost my confidence on the order for introducing solids by reading a few good baby food books, such as this one from Sage Spoonfuls.
  • We kept a list on the fridge of all the foods she had tried and tolerated, introduced only one food at a time, and then waited a few days before introducing another.
  • I usually mixed breastmilk into her purees.

Baby Bird's First Puree: Avocado and Breastmilk, mashed with a spoon

  • I didn’t stress about whether or not it was strict “baby led weaning”, which I found restrictive, and offered a mix of purees and whole, soft foods, such as bananas, avocado, pears.
  • I didn’t buy a fancy baby food maker, but used the magic bullet we already owned. It was the perfect size for her meals.
  • I did end up buying a simple food mill, like this one, for about $12. It worked well for rice and meat. (I also purchased the small storage containers from Sage Spoonfuls.)
  • I tasted EVERYTHING I gave her. I figured if I didn’t like it, why should she? For the record, neither of us liked powdered, reconstituted rice cereal. Yuck.
  • I never ended up freezing much food for her ahead of time. Like the point above, fresh food just tastes better. Instead, I gave her some of whatever I cooked for us. Sometimes I reserved some for her before adding salt or ingredients she hadn’t had yet.
  • Up until 9 months, I made sure that all her caregivers understood that introducing solids was to be treated as a fun activity or an extra treat, and that her “job” was to still to consume breastmilk.


Here are some of my recipes for Homemade Baby Food and Recipes for the Whole Family.

Although strict Baby Led Weaning was not practical for us, I really wanted to like it and I still admire some of the philosophy and believe it is worth reading up on. We ended up doing a combination of BLW and purees. Every baby is different so see what works for yours! Try this article for a good balanced view.

I only recently stumbled upon an article on the Montessori approach to weaning and found it resonated with me.

And here are two overviews for introducing solids from Kelly Mom and Dr. Sears.


I’m honored to have since joined a taping of the Boob Group podcast as a panelist for an episode on “Breastfeeding and Introducing Solids.” The episode is now available to listen and download here. I am a big fan of the podcast, hosted by Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC, and owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center (also check out her awesome blog.) The episode features expert Barbara Robertson, IBCLC, Director of The Breastfeeding Center of Ann Arbor, and Director of Professional Development for the United States Lactation Consultation Association. She had a lot of great, evidence-based information. I won’t provide spoilers, but one tip I got that I will do differently with baby #2 is to start proteins and good fats early. With baby bird #1, I focused on vegetables, fruits and a few whole grains in months 6-8. I’ve since learned babies really benefit from easily digestible proteins (lamb, liver, etc) and fats such as coconut oil and olive oil. There was a lot more great info, so be sure to check it out!


I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. Please consider the opinions of your own healthcare practitioners and your own child’s unique needs when introducing solids. I’m just a mom who put a lot of thought and research into it, and found a simple approach that worked for my child. She happens to be a great eater, but who’s knows how much all of the above contributed. Please remember that every baby is unpredictably different. If I leave you with any message, it’s that there is no WRONG approach. You may find a few ideas that work for your family–or not. Just like with all of parenting, there are so many different ways of doing things. Go with what works for you, whether it’s strict BLW or strictly from a pouch, or all of the above like us.

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