cooking for your baby pt.1
Let's face it: babies eat a lot.
At the beginning it's pretty easy. You get the hang of breastfeeding or formula making and you're good as gold. And then they get older and they need more nutrients & you've just taken your effort exerted dial up to 10. Right now Lily is on three solid meals a day (plus snacks, plus cows milk) and man it's exhausting, but totally worth it.
To be honest, I've never been much of a cook. My parents used to have a restaurant in country South Australia when I was growing up, with my Dad being head chef and Mum front of house. I grew up with the most delicious home made meals. My Dad making fresh bread, gnocchi & boeuf bourguignon, while my Mum also being a killer cook with her homemade jams, chutneys and French Toast. And then 10 years ago I met the most amazing Israeli man (aka my now husband) who is on another level. He makes a mean hummus, baba ganoush and every kind of salad you can dream of. THEREFORE.. because I've always been surrounded by the most amazing home cooks, I've never felt the need to live in the kitchen (#princesssyndrome). Don't get me wrong, when I do cook (albeit rarely) I'm bloody good at it, but I don't feel the NEED to do it every second of everyday.
SO when the time came to introduce solids into Lily's world I didn't know how it would go down. Would I detest slaving away in the kitchen and result to buying pre-packaged purees? Or come into my own element and adore the look of delight on Lily's face when I present to her a home-made chicken stew. As you may have guessed, it was the latter. I don't know why I love cooking for her, oh hang on yes I do (cogs are moving in the brain as I'm typing this), just for the same reason that my parents loved to cook for me all those years.. nothing beats providing for the ones you love, especially your little baby. Also the fact that she can't talk and critique my cooking helps - so it's all YUM YUM YUM ;)
Considering cooking for Lily occupies so much of my husband's & my own time, I thought I would do a three-part series on 'Cooking for your baby'.
In no way am I claiming to be an expert in children's nutrition but these are things I've found work for me. I want the food I serve my baby to be free of any hidden nasty chemicals and as simple, nutritious yet delicious as possible.. WITH the least amount of effort required.
PART ONE: PREPARATION
Here's what I've found works when preparing for cooking:
1. Get yourself some baby cook books. You'll need as much inspiration as you can get. The books we use (Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner + a book by Michal Wassman in Hebrew) are so helpful when it comes to what foods to give when. I also like to use them as a general guide, and then mix and match based on what I've got in the fridge.
2. Plan out your week as much as possible. Before our weekly grocery shop I flick through the books to get ideas for the coming week and add anything I need straight to the shopping list. I also keep a running note in my phone of snack foods I want to try with Lily e.g. edamame beans, peach etc. I add one of those new foods to the shopping list also.
3. Buy local and organic when possible. I know it increases the shopping bill like crazy, but doesn't it make sense to want to give your baby food in it's purest, unaffected form? If organic everything is too much of a stretch, limit it to fruits and veggies that don't have a shell or hard skin e.g. purchase peaches, nectarines, broccoli instead of banana and avocados. Those ones will be safer from being infiltrated by many pesticides.
Stay tuned for part 2 COOKING and part 3 SERVING.
Photos: Avner Engel at West End Farmers Market