Recipes

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Having a baby and all that goes with it can be daunting at times, just as we feel we have nailed one job our baby has already moved on and presents us with a host of new challenges.shutterstock_120722557

When it comes to weaning our babies, it can be a little scary, as they move from a liquid only diet to solids. I remember reading lots of cookbooks recommending how best to begin and it did make the journey a lot easier. Knowing I was doing right by my baby and offering foods that were not only easy to digest, but also nutritionally beneficial for my baby, gave me great piece of mind.

Home cooking is not rocket science, but it can be time consuming and as I know only too well, every minute is precious when your little one is small. What makes it even trickier is that weaning often coincides with the time when many parents are returning to work. So life is all the harder, trying to make food for crèche/child-minders or even for dinner when you get home at the end of the day can be very challenging.

This is one of the many reasons why I have developed Pip & Pear. I wanted a guilt free alternative to home cooking.

I am a big advocate of home cooking; it’s tasty, economical, nutritious and it helps baby to adapt to family meals and tastes, and in the long term I believe it also helps develop less fussy eaters, but I am also realistic about how time poor we all are and how there are lots of compromises we need to make in order to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Here you will find some recipes, tips and ideas I’ve used for my family and if you do have a little free time on your hands and are looking for easy recipes I hope you find them useful.

If you can make lots of homemade baby food every week that’s great, if you manage to do it occasionally that’s great too, if you don’t manage to do it at all or only rarely that’s ok. Please don’t feel guilty, I am on your side and Pip & Pear is here to help. The most important thing is that you do your best and that you get to enjoy your baby and so don’t beat yourself up about it.

Important

• Always wash your hands before and after food prep and always wash babies hands before eating.
• When handling Meat, Fish & Poultry, always wash your hands and utensils, in order to avoid cross contamination.
• Wash vegetables before use
• Make sure all cooking & eating utensils are clean before use
• To thicken first purees use a little baby rice or for thinning purees use cooled boiled water or a little breast or formula milk.

To freeze your freshly homemade baby food;

Spoon you’re freshly made and cooled baby food into a silicone or plastic ice shutterstock_140931490cube tray, cover and transfer to freezer. For ease of use when frozen decant from tray into plastic freezer bag so you can mix and match flavours and can see easily how many cubes are left. Make sure to label and date contents, they can be safely stored for up to 6 weeks.

When needed, defrost the required amount of purees in the fridge and then reheat until piping hot and cool down before serving. Only reheat a puree once. When a food has been thawed never refreeze.

Once baby has transitioned through first tastes and is showing an acceptance of spoon feeding and new tastes, you will be looking to introduce a broader range of ingredients, flavours and textures to baby’s repertoire. Initially it is important to keep purees smooth until baby is ready for a thicker and lumpier consistency. From 6 months you can begin to add proteins such as fish or chicken and you can start to introduce cow’s milk and dairy into your cooking.

When you get to stage 2 and stage 3 you might consider using pots for freezing portions. You can reuse Pip & Pear pots or alternatively, there are a wide range of suitable pots on the market and they are a good investment, you will find lots of uses for them long after weaning is finished.

Foods at this stage must be easy for baby to digest and made from just a few ingredients, which will allow baby to get used to new textures and flavours.

When baby first starts this process single flavours such as; carrot, pear, parsnip, banana and apple, have a sweet and pleasant taste which babies enjoy and are easy to digest. They are also incredibly easy to prepare.

Carrot Purée

Makes approx. 6 portions suitable for freezing.shutterstock_97806197

3 medium Carrots

Peel and chop carrots into small pieces. Using a steamer over boiling water (or a pan with just enough water to cover veg) cover and cook for around 10 to 15 minutes until fully tender. Blend with a hand blender until completely smooth, use some of the cooking water if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Once cooled you can use a portion straightaway and pour the remainder into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze.

You can apply this same easy recipe to other vegetables such as; Parsnip, Cauliflower and Butternut Squash. You can then mix and match flavours such as Carrot and Parsnip using equal quantities of both to expand baby’s palate.

Apple Purée

Makes approx. 6 portions suitable for freezing.shutterstock_105528737

3 medium Apples

Peel and chop apples into even size pieces.
Using a steamer over boiling water (or a pan with just enough water to cover fruit) cover and cook for around 5 to 8 minutes, stirring once or twice until soft. Blend with a hand blender until completely smooth, use some of the cooking water to achieve desired consistency.

Once cooled you can use a portion straightaway and pour the remainder into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze.

You can apply this same easy recipe to other fruits such as; Peaches & Pears, however if they are fully ripe you may not need any water to cook and they may need less cooking time. Using the same cooking method using equal quantities of each ingredient, try combining rhubarb and apples or parsnips and apples as some new combinations for baby.

Important

  • Once completely cooled purees can be kept in the fridge for 24 hours or they can be frozen.

Easy Cheesy Veg

Makes approx. 6 portions suitable for freezing.

1 medium Carrot18492601_xxl
1 medium Potato
3 medium cauliflower florets
3 medium broccoli florets
20 g of Cheddar Cheese
2 tbsp. of milk

Peel and chop carrots & potatoes into small pieces. Using a steamer over boiling water (or a pan with just enough water to cover veg) cover and cook for around 10 minutes and then add cauliflower and broccoli florets and cook for a further 7 minutes until all vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and drain the majority of the water. Add milk and cheddar cheese and blend with a hand blender until smooth.

Sweet Chicken

Makes approx. 6 portions suitable for freezing.shutterstock_117959623

1tbsp vegetable oil
1 Chicken breast
1 Sweet potato
1 Carrot
1 Parsnip

Peel and chop carrot, parsnip and sweet potato. Using a steamer over boiling water (or a pan with just enough water to cover veg) cover and cook for around 10 to 15 mins until tender. Remove from heat and drain majority of water. Cut chicken into chunks and fry a little oil until cooked through. Blend chicken and vegetables together until smooth consistency adding some cooking liquid to achieve right consistency.

By now your baby will be more used to the whole concept of eating, therefore it is important to introduce more texture and tastes to their diet. Breast or Formula Milk will still be an important staple in your baby’s diet but now baby’s stores of iron are starting to deplete and must be sourced in solid food intake.

Baby will also start to enjoy some finger foods at this stage such as rice cakes, banana chunks or cucumber sticks. This is an ideal way for teaching self-feeding.

Important

  • Never leave your baby alone for even a moment, when they are eating, in case of choking.

Broccoli & Salmon Mash

A good recipe if you want to introduce oily fish into your baby’s diet, it is packed full of omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, and beta-carotene.

Makes approx. 6 portions suitable for freezing.19775575_xl

75ml water
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
10 small broccoli florets
100ml milk
100g fresh skinless salmon, filleted and de-boned (alternatively, use non-oily fish, such as haddock or cod)

Place sweet potato and broccoli in a steamer over boiling water (or a pan with just enough water to cover veg) cover and cook for around 10 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and drain. Place the milk and fish in a pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 8 minutes, until cooked. Mash cooked fish, milk and drained vegetables together until you have reached required consistency. Check carefully for any bones.

Easy Chicken

This is a really easy one pot dish and a winner every time.

Makes approx. 6 portions suitable for freezing.

1 tbsp rapeseed oilshutterstock_97806197
50g chopped onion
100g chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
300g sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 small dessert apple, peeled and chopped
1 small yellow pepper, chopped
200ml unsalted chicken stock (see recipe below)

Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion until softened. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes. Add the carrot, sweet potato, pepper and apple, pour over the stock and bring to the boil
Cover with a lid and simmer for around 12 to 15 minutes, making sure the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Using a blender, blend to the desired consistency.

Homemade Chicken Stock

When making stock I apply a 2 ingredient rule (2 of every vegetable listed below makes it easy to remember, obviously this doesn’t apply to the chicken! I’m not overly worried if I don’t have all of these veg in my cupboard at the time I’m partial to using whatever is closest to hand)

This stock is suitable for home freezing and is useful in many dishes adding an additional layer of flavour.

Leftover chicken carcass
2 onions
2 leeks
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 tbsp. chopped, fresh parsley
2.5 litres of Water

Wash, peel and roughly chop the vegetables. Place the carcass into a large stock pot, add the vegetables and parsley, and then cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat until the liquid is simmering. Simmer, uncovered, for about 4 hours, checking it occasionally adding more water if necessary and skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Remove the bones and strain the stock through a sieve into a clean bowl. Leave to stand for a few hours and skim off any extra fat sitting on the surface. Check carefully for any bones.

At this stage your baby is starting to become more independent in every part of their life and this includes feeding time, they might be insistent on feeding themselves and this can be very messy indeed, but the more your baby experiments the quicker they will learn to feed themselves.

It is vitally important by 10 months that baby eats more textured food which will help with the development of fine motor skills. Babies do not need to have teeth to learn to chew. The first steps of chewing require only tongue, jaw and cheek movements. Teeth are used later for more complicated foods with fibres that must be broken up by the teeth.

Remember variety is the spice of life so adding new food to your baby’s repertoire goes a long way to insuring a less fussy eater later on.

The recipes below are dishes I make for us as a family and both children and parents enjoy them a lot, just remember when portioning up for baby not to add salt. You will need to mash or blend baby’s portion of these dishes further.

Chicken & Broccoli Bake

Serves a family of 4 with extra portions for baby37521410_xl

I tbsp. of oil
250g quills or shells
280g broccoli, cut into florets
1 onion finely chopped
300g of chicken

Cheese Sauce

30g butter
25g gluten free flour
350ml milk
1 tbsp. wholegrain mustard (optional)
140g cheddar or Edam, grated

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5/fan170C. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Throw in the pasta, stir well and return to the boil. Cook for 6 minutes, then add the broccoli and cook for 5 or 6 minutes more until the pasta is just cooked. Drain well, then return to the pan. Heat the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 min, then gradually add the milk, stirring well between each addition. Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer for 2 minutes, before stirring in the mustard and half the cheese.

Heat the oil in a wide pan, add the onion and fry until soft. Add the chicken pieces and fry until lightly browned.
Mix the pasta, chicken and broccoli into the sauce and spoon into an ovenproof dish. Scatter over the remaining cheese and place into the oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove the portion for baby avoiding any crispy cheesy pieces, and chop until desired consistency, you might add some milk to loosen sauce out.

Cottage Pie

Serves a family of 4 with extra portions for baby19775575_xl

1tbsp of rapeseed oil
700g beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.5 tbsp. gluten free flour
1 tbsp. tomato purée
425ml beef stock (low salt) or chicken stock as on previous recipe
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Few thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves

Mash

900g potatoes, peeled & chopped
115ml milk
15g butter
100g strong cheddar, grated
Freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Heat a large pan and fry the mince until browned. Put oil into the pan, add the vegetables and cook on a gentle heat until soft for about 20 minutes. Add the garlic, flour and tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few minutes, then return the beef to the pan and add the stock, Worcestershire sauce and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. By this time the sauce should be thick and coating the meat. Check after about 30 minutes – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the sauce a little more. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stalks.

Meanwhile, make the mash. Using a steamer over boiling water (or a pan with just enough water to cover potato’s) cover and cook for approx. 15 -20 minutes. Mash well with the milk, butter, and three-quarters of the cheese, then season with the nutmeg.

At this point take out the amount for baby and blend for a few seconds to give it a slightly softer texture. You can add potato after.

Spoon the rest of the meat into ovenproof dishes, leave meat to cool as this stops potato sinking when spread on top. Pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Put in the oven to cook for 25 to30 mins, or until the topping is golden.