When my husband and I decided we were ready to expand our family and have our first child, I began to slowly improve my eating habits. I am not one to change everything drastically, all at once. I usually tend to make small changes, one at a time, until the changes are just part of my “new normal.” I find I keep up with things better this way, as they become new habits.
I began to drink less soda (I sometimes drank up to two or three a day at the time, so I started to cut back to one a day instead) and then once I became pregnant, I changed to caffeine free soda. I also started eating more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. It was easier to make these transitions knowing that what I ate affected the growing child I was carrying.
However, while I did make better choices when pregnant, I changed my eating habits even more once my son began eating foods himself. He always wanted what was on our plates, even if it was the same as what was on his plate, and that was the beginning of me realizing that my actions spoke louder than my words to my children (I know, I know, everyone tells you this, but some things you have to believe by experiencing them rather than just hearing them). I decided that even though I was working at the time and bringing lots of work home (teachers have to grade, plan lessons, etc.), I would make my son’s baby food out of fresh produce (organic when possible), instead of buying the pre-made stuff at the store. (The more convenient a food is to serve/prepare, the more processed it usually is, and I was trying to get away from processed food as much as possible).
When I began reading up on what foods are high in vitamins and nutrients for my son (and in what order and at what age I should introduce certain foods), I began to learn about, and buy, foods that I had never tried before. Here are five “new to us” foods that we’ve incorporated into our regular diet since making baby food for our son 4 years ago:
1.) Butternut Squash – This was one of my son’s favorite baby foods. Didn’t like peas, green beans, etc? I mixed in some butternut squash with them and he would eat it with no complaints at all. Now that he’s older, we add butternut squash to our homemade macaroni and cheese to add some nutrients to one of our favorite comfort foods (recipe to come later). I’ve also had it as an amazing side at a few restaurants I’ve gone to since. Before making my son’s baby food, I would have never ordered it.
2.) Papaya – This was another sweet food that my son enjoyed alone or mixed with veggies. I must be honest, I tried it then, but haven’t since, but I need to put it back on the list. Maybe if I found a few ways of serving it differently…
3.) Kale – I LOVE kale! I mixed it in with smoothies after having my son. I tried making baby food from it, but the consistency just didn’t seem right (and he did not like it!). However, one of his favorite snacks was kale chips. I can buy one bunch of kale for about 99 cents at Walmart most weeks and then make about two batches of chips from that one bunch. It’s super easy and only takes olive oil, salt, kale, and an oven. My son and I still enjoy kale chips as a snack from time to time. My husband and I add chopped-up kale in our salads.
4.) Pesto – My husband and I have always loved basil (enough that we plant it every year in the garden because buying one plant at the garden store is just as much money as buying the few leaves fresh at the grocery store, but you get so much more basil!!). We have a few favorite recipes we use it in, but we always felt like we were wasting the leaves leftover on the plant at the end of the summer when the plant began to die each year. Pesto to the rescue! We make batches of pesto throughout the summer and freeze them in cubes and then we use it to make pesto pasta throughout the year! Recipe coming soon, but its still a family favorite (my son would eat pesto pasta everyday if I allowed him to, and our daughter loves it just as much).
5.) Mangos – Another one of my son’s favorites that I had never eaten before I made his baby food. I don’t buy mangos often these days (I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of peeling and cutting them easily), but when they’re on sale, I usually pick up a few as a quick, healthy snack for the kids and I in the afternoon. I also blend up mango chunks in smoothies or to make popsicles for the kids.
What new foods have you tried lately? Let me know below in the comments and feel free to share how you like to prepare it or include a recipe.