Tag Archives: natural baby food

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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Baby’s First Seder Plate

Last year at Passover our Baby Bird was just starting to eat solids. She loved eating with us and participating in meals. So I wanted to be sure to include her in our seder. She pretty much only ate purées at the time, except for some naturally creamy foods, like avocado and banana, and had just started egg yolks. Here is what I came up with for her:

Ideas for Baby's First Seder on BabyBirdsFarm

  • Lamb Shank → Stuffed Lambie AND Yam (Yam is also an option for Vegetarian adults.)
  • Parsley → Avocado (Still represents the green freshness of spring)
  • Egg → Hardboiled Egg (But for her I chose one of the small eggs laid by our Ameraucana instead of a larger egg)
  • Charoset → Applesauce (Could also do an applesauce and date puree)
  • Horseradish → A puree using beets, as a beet-colored horseradish is fairly common)
  • Matzo → Rice cereal (As I recall it was mixed into the purée)

For comparison, here was the adult seder plate:


The mango you ask? Well, I didn’t have any oranges.

Oranges?? Why would there be an orange on a seder plate?

Being a good feminist I always put an orange on my seder plate! The urban legend goes that an old, conservative rabbi once said that “a woman belongs on the bimah [the podium from where the rabbi leads the congregation] like an orange belongs on a seder plate.” Another meaning is that by eating an orange and spitting out the seeds, all of the participants are rejecting homophobia.

I also make sure to have my prettiest crystal filled with a glass of water for Miriam (Moses’ brother who followed him down the river to protect him).

Anyway, these are just my ideas and opinions. I believe that a seder should be a ritualized tradition, but that it is an organic and changeable one. We find our own meanings, as we create and define them for our families.

And just for fun, here is a link to the full episode of the Rugrats Passover.

Borscht: Good for Your Belly and Your Budget

When I was a kid I hated beets. I went so far as to refuse to carry the serving bowl of beets when my mother asked us to help set the table. The bread I would carry, green beans, sure, but no way would I touch the beets. Now they are one of my absolute favorite vegetables.

Beet Borscht

Did you know that beets have been considered an aphrodisiac since the time of the ancient Romans? They have also been used for medicinal purposes, as well as a natural red dye since at least the 16th century. No wonder these all natural red velvet cupcakes I made for Valentine’s were such a hit!

I most often roast them in large chunks with a little coconut or olive oil and salt and pepper. Leftovers, if any, are great in salads the next day. The tops of the beets, or beet greens, can be sautéed like collards, kale or any greens.

My second favorite preparation of beets is being featured in this soup. Borscht has been made in Eastern European countries, like Russia and the Ukraine, since the 14th century. It’s hearty, economical, and for those with New Year’s Resolutions, filling while being low in calories. Although they are naturally sweet, and contain about 10% natural sugars, 1 cup of beets has only 50-75 calories.

For this recipe, and all of my recipes, please feel empowered to improvise and substitute ingredients. The only essential one is beets! The recipe works equally well with vegetable broth, making a satisfying vegetarian meal, although beef broth is nice, too. You can even throw in beef stew meat chunks, especially for a chunky borscht. I used a big potato, parsnips and some carrots from our garden, along with other veggies.



Beet Borscht Soup Recipe

  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 large beets, with beet greens
  • 1 large turnip and/or rutabaga
  • 1 large or 2-3 small potatoes
  • 3-4 parsnips
  • 1 quart of beef or vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cups of water, or as needed
  • 1 small red cabbage
  • 2-3 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice, or to taste
  • salt, pepper, paprika
  • greek yogurt, creme fraiche, or non-dairy sour cream (for a vegan meal)
  • fresh dill

In a large soup pot over medium heat, sauté the onion and carrots for five minutes in the oil with salt and pepper, and then add garlic. Add the hard, root vegetables (beets, turnips, potatoes, parsnips) and the broth. Add enough water to cover all of the vegetables. Bring to a boil and then lower to a steady simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes and then add the cabbage, simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and add paprika. Add the vinegar or lemon juice to taste.

Option 1: Serve as is as a nice chunky borscht.

Option 2: Puree the soup until smooth. (I like to serve it chunky on the first night and pureed the following. Two soups in one!)

Top with greek yogurt, creme fraiche or sour cream and fresh dill.

Tips for Feeding Baby:

This makes great baby food, from months 8 or 9 on.