This post comes a bit out of left field, but I promised a friend I’d put it up. My youngest is now 21 months, so it’s been a while since I made any purees, but back when she was starting solids, I took a ton of photos of what I was making with the intention of sharing them here. I promise more comprehensive coverage of feeding your baby, coming soon(ish!) And for those of you who dislike babies and their eating habits, how about a Milk Chocolate Pudding Pie instead?
Lots of people make homemade vegetable and fruit purees for their babies, but almost no one I know ever makes meat. Why not? It’s so easy, freezes well, and they (the babies) really love it. Plus, my pediatrician swears that babies start sleeping better once they start eating real protein. I have no evidence to back this claim up, but I did notice a big difference in my own kids. Protein does digest more slowly, so it makes sense, no?
Ok, so meat…it’s not the prettiest puree. (My photos of making it are not pretty either.) But I promise you’ll feel much less grossed out by the whole situation if you make it yourself. Let me show you how.
Start with some nice boneless, skinless chicken thighs. This is about 1 1/2 pounds pictured. Are you surprised I’m using thighs instead of fancier, pricier breast meat? Thighs have fat (which babies’ growing brains need.) Fat also makes for a smoother, creamier puree. Pureed chicken breast has a weird sawdust quality to it–quite off putting, in my opinion! Plus, thighs are cheaper, so it’s easier to go organic.
Cube the chicken thighs into big chunks and put them in a medium pot with a lid. Add enough cold water or unsalted homemade chicken stock to cover. (If your baby is older, feel free to eventually introduce some herbs and spices like bay leaf, allspice, or thyme, or add a tiny pinch of salt or a drizzle of olive oil.) Bring meat and water/stock to a simmer over medium-high heat.
You can make chicken puree straight up, but I usually like to add a neutral-tasting vegetable to help make it even smoother and squeeze in some fiber–zucchini is my favorite (be sure to choose something your baby has tried before.) Sweet potatoes are also good, but be mindful that you shouldn’t be making every meal your baby eats sweet! So cube some zucchini and add it to the pot once the chicken has come to a simmer. Reduce heat and cover the pot; cook for about 30 minutes or until everything is really, really cooked. If you’re not sure, go a bit longer. Remove from heat, and let cool a bit before you make the puree.
Scoop the meat and veggies into a food processor, discarding any whole spices or herbs; process until smooth, adding enough of the cooking liquid to get the desired consistency (thinner for younger, thicker for older babies.) Strain and save any extra cooking liquid to add to pastina or use for cooking other vegetables. Transfer chicken puree to storage containers and freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and use within a few days.
Note: Meat purees are also a great place to add whole grains to your baby’s diet. You can simmer cooked grains like brown rice or millet with the chicken, then puree as directed.