Tag Archives: Homemade Baby Food

Anasazi Bean Burgers

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.

Anasazi Bean Burger from BabyBirdsFarm.com

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. The 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 much 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.

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 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. From Moon Time/The Elk Restaurant.

Servings: 4 burgers

  • 1 cup dried Anasazi beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • Approximately 1 cup dried bread crumbs

Step 1
Distinctive-looking Anasazi beans have a unique, slightly nutty flavor and firm texture. Cook the beans in plenty of water for about an hour until soft but not mushy.

Step 2
Coarsely chop the drained and cooled beans. You can use a food processor, using only a couple of pulses, but I never have. Mash them with a fork, or a mashed potato masher, or break up the beans using your hands. Add the sauteed veggies to the chopped beans and then add the egg, seasonings and bread crumbs.

Step 3
After forming the patties (I usually do 4 large patties, but have also made sliders), saute them in oil until they’re golden, about 3 minutes on each side over medium high heat. I find starting the patties in a cold pan gets a nice crust. Add a slice of cheddar and finish the bean burger in a 400° oven for 2 or 3 minutes. Serve on a bun with typical burger “fixings” (i.e. tomato, lettuce, pickle, avocado, mustard, ketchup, siracha, etc.)

Notes:

Although Anasazis 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. Never salt your water when cooking beans. Only add salt and acid (like tomatoes or vinegar) once they are fully cooked. Otherwise they will be tough and not cook properly.

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 1.5.13 to add a photo of the burger. Originally posted 8.21.12. -Mama Bird

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

Quinoa is an all around great for you food. It is an ancient grain, originally the primary nutrition source of the Incas, and has been popular the last 10-15 years–with good reason. It is naturally high protein. Unlike other vegetarian sources of protein, like lentils and other beans, which must be combined with something like rice in order to provide a complete protein, quinoa is one of the few grains that is a complete protein on its own. Although we are not vegetarian, there are many reasons why I try to reduce how often we eat meat, including environmental, economic and health concerns.

Quinoa is also a great source of fiber, iron, magnesium, essential amino acids and other nutrients. It is naturally low fat, low calorie and gluten free. I serve quinoa as I would rice, along side fish, chicken or vegetable mains. It is also great mixed into salads. I love it most, however, mixed into stuffings and veggie burgers. Whenever making it (which I usually do simply, with just water in a rice cooker) I make extra so as to have leftovers.

This recipe is a twice baked butternut squash with quinoa and parmesan cheese mixed in. I made it super simple as I was juggling a squirmy little one. I would normally sauté an onion, at least, and maybe a carrot, some celery, garlic, etc. and mix it in. But it tasted surprisingly flavorful as is!

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash Recipe

  • 1 large Butternut Squash (any winter squash will do)
  • 1 cup cooked Quinoa
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, paprika and/or a seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Reserve the seeds and toast them for snacking (click here to read how.) Salt and pepper the squash and place on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat. Bake until soft, or when a fork is easily inserted, about 35-50 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.

Remove the squash from the oven. When cool enough to handle, scoop out most of the flesh into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, mix, and then refill the shells. Bake another 20-30 minutes, or until the stuffing is heated through.

Tips for Feeding Baby:

This is a great dish for babies. Even the earliest eaters (6-7 months) will enjoy the baked squash mixed with quinoa (reserve some for baby before mixing in the egg.) Quinoa on its own is impossibly messy, but mixed with squash it sticks together much better (and tastes better), especially for the independent babes who want to feed themselves. My daughter enjoyed this both with her hands and practicing her growing spoon and fork skills. We served her just the stuffing, while the presentation in the half shell of a squash is pretty enough for company!

How To Boil the Perfect Fresh Egg

On our little backyard homestead, summer brings not only a bounty of vegetables and herbs, but also a plethora of eggs. Chickens respond to the longer days and increased light and are at their peak of production. This is one reason why commercial egg producers will keep lights on the hens, day and night. We live in San Diego and have never felt the need to add artificial light, but if you live more to the north, it might be something to consider for a few hours a day during the winter months.

This year I have been having fun swapping or trading extra eggs with other local urban homesteaders. In exchange for eggs and some dairy products, we have received homemade jams, fresh salad, kombucha, lemons and lemon curd, AVOCADOS (our absolute fav), home-baked bread, homemade granola, fresh bay leaves, chicken broth and more.

But one of my favorite ways to enjoy extra eggs is to hard boil a batch. Hardboiled egg yolk has also been a staple in baby’s diet, especially during months 6-10. Plenty of people use the following technique, but it was my grandmother who showed me how.

Boiling the Perfect Egg

Step 1: If using fresh eggs, wash them.

Step 2: Place the eggs in a medium-sized pot. Try to have enough eggs so that they are somewhat cozy, without too much room, and only in one layer.

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Step 3: Cover the eggs in cold water.

Step 4: Put the pot on high heat and bring to a boil.

Step 5: As soon as the water boils, take it off the heat, cover with a lid and set a timer for 12 minutes.

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Step 6: Have a bowl ready with cold water and ice. As soon as 12 minutes are up, pour out the hot water, rinse once with cold tap water and then transfer to the ice bath. If you leave them in the pot to cool, the water will quickly heat up again from the residual heat in the pot and continue cooking the eggs.

Ways to Enjoy the Eggs:

For baby the yummiest combo is half a hardboiled yolk, mashed avocado and breastmilk. My baby is “so over” purées at 11 months but will make an exception for this silky, creamy concoction. No special equipment needed other than a fork for mashing, making this a great combo to take on the road.

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Hardboiled eggs make a great quick snack. Just like the raw energy bites, I love having instant food on hand. Oftentimes, when I am making baby something with the yolk, I just pop the white of the egg in my mouth. :)

My go-to summer lunch includes a green salad topped with sliced hardboiled eggs, an artisan balsamic vinegar and olive oil and fresh veggies. You can use any dressing you like, but try a really good balsamic and oil. There is something magical about the way the bits of yolk mix with the vinegar. Perhaps it is emulsifying a little in the mouth?

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This salad has spring mix, avocado, hardboiled egg, tomatoes from my garden, snap peas from my mom’s garden, an espresso balsamic, blood orange olive oil and a little truffled goat cheese. The oil and vinegar are from a local shop.

Notes:

Occasionally fresh eggs will be hard to peel. One tip is to reserve the oldest eggs in your fridge for boiling. Papa Bird shares that thin shells can be a symptom of a calcium deficiency in the chickens. A simple remedy is to feed the hens shells that you have rinsed and crushed up. Since he has been doing that our eggs peel easily now.

Egg yolk can be constipating for babies. At one point we had to cut back from eggs daily to every other day.

And finally: Papa Bird’s tip on how to tell if an egg is raw or hardboiled. Try to spin it like a top… if it spins, it’s cooked. If it wobbles and can’t get a decent spin, it is raw.

Never Go Hungry Frittata: Backyard Chickens Save the Day

It has been a little over two years since our family grew to include an average of five chickens. Having hens means there is always something to make for dinner. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought there was nothing to eat in the house and was able to pull something delicious together thanks to our eggs. Backyard chickens really do save the day–or at least dinner.

Occasionally I will have dough for a single pie crust (either homemade or store bought) in the freezer and will make a quiche, but I most often make a frittata or tortilla española. Both of those are simply different names (Italian and Spanish, respectively) for the same thing, which is essentially a crust-less quiche. Without the crust it is a little healthier and definitely faster, easier and potentially more affordable (especially if you buy the crust or crust dough.) We also do a lot of scrambles, but a frittata or tortilla just seem a little more “dinner.”

Between baby and work I don’t always make it to the grocery store before the fridge starts looking empty. This week was no exception so I picked a few veggies and herbs from the garden and collected a few more eggs. Zucchini goes particularly well with eggs. :)

 I also found a few potatoes and snap peas in the fridge. I don’t have a picture of the frittata fully completed since a little Baby bird started getting cranky, but here it is nearly done:

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Never-Go-Hungry Frittata Recipe

This is more of a template than a recipe. Feel free to improvise with the ingredients and make it your own!

Step 1: Pre-cook hard vegetables like potatoes or broccoli (boil, roast, etc.) Please also clean out your fridge of any already cooked leftovers. Oven roasted veggies are awesome, as is any leftover meat. This is a great use of a little meat that would be less than a full serving if eaten alone. (My husband finds it more substantial when I use potatoes.)

Step 2: Sauté aromatics, like onion, in a healthy amount of olive oil or coconut oil (it will also be keeping the egg from sticking) on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add other veggies and cook until soft. (Options are endless, but try zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, bell pepper, kale and other greens…)

Step 3: Beat eggs with a fork vigorously until light and fluffy. Use at least 2-3 eggs per serving. You want to have enough eggs to cover all the filling that is in the pan. If you need to use more eggs than you will eat that night, do it. Leftover frittata is great. If you run out of eggs and need a little more volume, add in a little milk. Season with salt, pepper and spices and then pour into the pan. Turn the heat down to low.

Step 4: Finish by adding fresh herbs, tomatoes and cheese. (All I had was my truffled goat cheese. Cooking it essentially wasted the truffle salt. Adding any kind of heat takes away the flavor of truffles which is why they should be used only as a finisher. But, hey, I needed the cheese!)

Step 5: There are at least three options for cooking it all the way through:

  1. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on super low heat until the top appears set.
  2. If you have an oven proof pan (i.e. the handle is entirely metal and not covered in rubber) you can transfer it to the oven and broil a few minutes to cook the top.
  3. If you are daring, try the Spanish method. Once the bottom half of the tortilla is cooked, take a large plate and flip the entire tortilla onto the plate and then slide it into the pan so that the other side is now down. Finish cooking until the center is done. (This is heavy and awkward for me personally, so I use one of the first two methods.)

Serve cut into wedges. Goes great with a green salad.

Notes:

If your zucchini grow a little too big, like ours often do, I recommend peeling them and cutting out the seeds at the core. The rest of the flesh will still be good.

Want to know a trick for fluffy eggs I learned in Spain? When I was an exchange student I watched the señora I lived with make tortillas like this: she tipped a bowl so that all the yolks drifted to one side. Then she beat the side with the whites with a fork vigorously until they were completely broken up. Next she incorporated one yolk at a time. Essentially, she beat the whites alone without going to the trouble of officially separating the eggs. I’ve done the same ever since.

Tips for cooking for baby:

Pediatricians recommend avoiding egg whites until baby is one year old. We have given her plenty of egg yolk since around 7 months but we still do not feed her whole eggs. I often reserve the filling just before pouring the eggs in. Potatoes, zucchini and other sauteed veggies make great homemade baby food! In our case this week I wasn’t fast enough. She was getting super tired and the only thing done was the boiled potatoes.  Lucky for her she likes baby mashed potatoes….

And here it is:

Baby’s First Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Scrub organic potatoes until clean.  Potatoes are a priority to buy (or grow) organic, even if you don’t normally do, since they are sponges for pesticides. Roughly chop and boil in water until they are fork tender. Drain and let cool. Pull off the skin. Mash them in a baby food mill, with a potato ricer, or with a fork. Add a good helping of breast milk until they are smooth and creamy.

Cauliflower is also yummy mashed, either alone or mixed with potatoes.

Raspberry Oatmeal

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Lately I have been very interested in meals that Baby Bird can eat as well as us. Because, seriously, having to make separate food for her after pulling together our meal got old quickly. We are lucky that our Baby Bird likes to eat just about everything. I have also been interested in eating oatmeal since she was born, as it is a well-known galactagogue, or substance that promotes lactation, and is tastier than fenugreek.

When we first brought Baby home from the hospital, instant oatmeal was my middle of the night snack. Those first few days I was still taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen around the clock and needed something in my tummy. Waking every two hours to feed her worked up an appetite, too. Oatmeal was warm and cozy in the cold of the night and I could also take out a packet and microwave it with one hand, holding my tiny babe in the other. But in retrospect, microwaved instant oatmeal was probably not affecting my milk supply as I was hoping.

I think I was scared of oatmeal. Didn’t you have to cook steel cut oatmeal, slowly stirring, for 20 minutes? My next step was to buy some quick oats from the bulk section of the grocery store. (Bulk homemade oatmeal is a much better value than packaged instant oatmeal.) It actually was pretty easy. I just heated it to boiling with water, turned the heat down, stirred a minute and it was done. I was feeling very happy with myself. Then I learned that quick oats don’t promote lactation as much as rolled oats.

So today was my first attempt at cooking the real thing. Why was I so scared? Cooking rolled oats couldn’t be easier! And as a bonus, Baby loves it, too! I used the same technique as cooking the quick oats and was surprised that it didn’t take much longer. The texture is better too, in my mind. Today I mixed in a small handful of organic raspberries at the end. They easily broke up and added a little flavor to each bite. I didn’t sweeten it, but if your berries are tart, you could. Just avoid honey if you will be sharing with a baby under 1 year old. This recipe can easily be multiplied for more people. Papa Bird wasn’t in an oatmeal mood so Baby and I shared one serving.

She loves to eat out of my bowl, but I put baby’s oatmeal in her own small bowl so it would cool faster. I mixed in a little breastmilk to make her oatmeal creamier. She is very interested in feeding herself these days, so we did a combination of Mama feeding her oatmeal by spoon and dropping small “oatmeal cookies” on her highchair tray for her to pick up herself. I ate out of the pot. One less dish to do.

Raspberry Oatmeal Recipe

1 serving

  • ½ c. rolled oats
  • 1 ¼- ½ c. water
  • handful of raspberries

Add oats and water to a small pot on high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, stirring. Cook for a couple minutes until desired consistency. Feel free to use more or less water, depending on preference, or add sweeteners to taste. Take off heat and stir in berries, or any addition you like. Oatmeal conserves heat, so be sure to check temperature before offering to a baby!

Disclaimer: I’m sure you will use common sense in giving any new food to a babe. For reference, mine is 10 months old, has 1 and a half teeth, can gum food well, and was well used to chunky purées before I gave her oatmeal.

Links:

http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/oatmeal/

http://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/herbs/herbal_galactagogue/

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