Sunday, April 15, 2012

Slow Cooker Baby Food

As you may know, I've been making my own baby food.  It's been such a breeze; mainly because my daughter was only eating about 2 oz of solids a day.  Which means the batches I've been making have lasted forever.  Well, that happy period has ended, because she is now eating twice that amount; quickly depleting my frozen stash of pureed vegetables and fruit.  

The problem is, my steamer is very small.  I can only make small batches at a time, which wasn't a problem until now.  I hated the idea of spending money on another steamer, and shuddered at the thought of adding another item to my crowded kitchen.  I scanned my kitchen for possible solutions, and my eyes eventually fell upon my two trusty slow cookers.  Could it work?

A quick check with Dr. Google, and I was elated to discover you can make baby food in the slow cooker!  So off I went to the grocery store to buy large amounts of baby friendly veggies and fruit.  My baby just started solids last month, so we are still in the Stage 1 and the beginnings of Stage 2 of baby food; which means nothing too crazy yet.  

Up first was the most adventurous batch; Chicken with Sage and Butternut Squash. I poured just enough water so that the bottom was just barely covered, threw in a diced and peeled butternut squash and 2 large chicken breasts, a few sage leaves, and cooked it on high for 4 hours. When done, I removed the sage leaves and threw them away.  I took the squash out and pureed it, and froze it separately.  As for the chicken, I tossed in a bit of garlic powder, shredded the chicken with the leftover water and butternut squash pieces that had fall off the cubes, cooled it, and then pureed it in the food processor.  I had to add in some additional water while it was pureeing in order to achieve my desired consistency.

Verdict: I thought it was really tasty! However, my baby wasn't a big fan of chicken, but gobbled it up the butternut squash.  It was the first time she ever had meat, so I think she wasn't use to the texture. I'll try to give it to her again in a few weeks.

Next up was Applesauce.  I peeled, cored, and cut up 5 Braeburn Apples, put enough water on the bottom of the slow cooker to barely cover it, put a liberal amount of cinnamon and nutmeg, and cooked it on high for 3 hours.  I used the immersion blender right in the crockpot and pureed until smooth.  

Verdict: It was so good that I wanted to eat it myself for dessert!  Baby girl loved it too.  Plus, it was super easy to make. Total win!

Yellow squash is one of my child's favorites, so I cut up a couple pounds of it, threw it in the slow cooker with some olive oil, 1/4 c. of water, cumin, and garlic powder, and cooked on high for 3 hours, and pureed with the immersion blender.

Verdict: Tasty to both me and child, plus easy to make.  

Last up was Sweet Potatoes, my daughter's absolute favorite. Peeled, cubed, and tossed in the slow cooker with 1/2 c. of water and cinnamon.  Cooked on high for 5 hours, and pureed with breastmilk until it achieved a nice creamy texture.

Verdict: Eh.  Honestly, it's a lot easier to make sweet potato baby food in the oven.  The slow cooker method takes a lot more work.  When I make it in the oven, I poke holes in the (still-peeled) sweet potatoes with a fork, wet the potatoes with water, wrap them in tinfoil (while damp), and bake at 450 for 45 minutes.  Then I scoop the potatoes out and puree with breastmilk. Easy peasy.

Overall thoughts: I did all this in one afternoon; and I didn't even have to slave over the stove the whole time.  In fact, very little of the afternoon was actually devoted to this; I managed to have plenty of time to play with my child and go to the Frozen Yogurt shop.  Woo!

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