applesauce

Make Your Own Applesauce!

Now that we have a billion apples, we eat applesauce with almost every meal. I've been using a dozen apples for each batch but that lasts just a day or two! The hardest part of this recipe? Waiting. Great applesauce takes a long time because you have to cook them slowly to yield the best flavor and texture. My family likes it chunky and with cinnamon. We don't add sugar or sweetener of any kind because the natural sugar from slow-cooking, caramelized apples is perfect as is. 

Here goes: 

Peel a dozen apples. 

peeled apples

Hmm... probably a good idea to peel an extra apple or two to accommodate hungry apple thieves in your kitchen!

apple thief!

Cut the apples into chunks and place in a pot. Smaller chunks will yield a smoother sauce. 

chopped apple

Add 1-2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Stir well. 

apples cinnamon and lemon juice

Simmer and cook slowly for approximately 60-90 minutes (or longer!) until the consistency is to your liking. Want to add other fruit? Here's a great recipe for apple-mango sauce

applesauce

Enjoy!


Teething and Crunchy Cravings

My baby is  teething something awful. 

She just got three of her four first molars (the ones next to the eye teeth) in the last three weeks and the fourth is now making an entrance. Plus, at least one of the eye teeth is on the way. The worst part is, she seems to be such a slooooow teether. My two older kids used to get two teeth at a time, there would be two days of distress and then bam! it was over. This seems to be lasting forever. Pile on a 24 hour stomach bug (for her AND for me!) and it's been less than pleasant at my house lately. 

In the process, my little gal seems to only want either crunchy foods or super soft stuff like applesauce and avocado. I'm taking matters into my own hands. We are well stocked on avocados. The applesauce is easy enough - I make this one fairly regularly. Applesauce is also great for tender tummies, so it's doing double duty. Bread crust is beloved right now but she keeps begging for "cah-cahs" (crackers) so I decided to make croutons - bread crust, taken to the next crunchy level. 

Here's how: 
I used the remaining half of a loaf of seeded sourdough bread that I bought from my local bakery three days ago. I sliced it into chunks that seemed a good fit for her little hands (she likes to have something in each hand these days) and drizzled with olive oil. I spread them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and popped them into an oven preheated to 375. They baked for 15 minutes and came out perfectly crispy, crunchy and delightful. 

These are also great for dipping and have been used as a hummus delivery vehicle by my little gal too. These croutons would keep for several days but most likely, they'll be devoured within 48 hours!

First Foods, Real Foods and the White Out Movement

I recently received an email from someone who will be using LaLa Lunchbox to plan for her infant's foods. She hasn't yet given her baby solids and wrote "I just got a baby food maker and don't know where to start... it would be really helpful to share some of your ideas on the blog."

I'm absolutely delighted to hear about out-of-the-box thinking with LaLa Lunchbox and happy to oblige. And with a newborn myself, it won't be long before I, too, am making my own baby food again. So Maggie, this one's for you: 

image courtesy of drgreene.com

image courtesy of drgreene.com

Six years ago, almost to the date, I started feeding my daughter solid foods. Her first food was avocado. Her second food was pear. Whereas once upon a time, parents were told to start their infants on cereals (rice or barley being most common), these days the emphasis is on pureed fruits and vegetables.  My pediatrician wrote a book called The New Basics and inside he writes, "Cereals are high in starch, which is a slow sugar. I’ve observed that an early emphasis on starch contributes to both a predilection for white foods (rice, potatoes, etc.) and the acquisition of a sweet tooth later on."  I agree with this philosophy and have actively chosen to feed my kids produce (seasonal and organic whenever possible) instead of cereals for their first foods. One of the great voices for pediatric wellness and healthy eating habits is Dr. Alan Greene.  He and his wife, Cheryl Greene, created a campaign called The WhiteOut Movement and their goal is to encourage parents to feed their infants whole grains and real foods, and make feeding white rice cereal to babies obsolete. Dr. Greene says "It's no wonder that America’s kids are hooked on junk food. For the past 50 years the majority of babies in the United States have been given white rice cereal for their very first bite of solid food. Metabolically, it's similar to eating sugar." 

So what can you feed your baby?  Making your own baby food will save you money  and it's a whole lot of fun. When choosing first foods, it's a good idea to think about what can be prepared with little or no preparation. Foods in their most natural form that are excellent first foods for babies include avocados, pears and bananas. Find a ripe one, peel, mash and serve. Just keep in mind that your baby has never used his mouth and tongue for swallowing anything other than breast milk or formula. Bear with him as he learns to get the hang of the whole spoon/solids thing. 

Other popular foods that can be easily prepared and served include: apple, squash, sweet potato, honeydew, cantaloupe and zucchini.  Bake, boil, steam or roast until soft, and then mash and serve. You can use your food mill to puree the foods into a uniform texture for baby. If you prepare foods in bulk, you can freeze them in an ice cube tray and defrost as needed. That's a good time-saving strategy for a working mom.

October is perfect for apples so here's what I would do to prepare that: 

Pureed apple (baby's first applesauce) 

  • Peel and core two apples (my preference is organic).
  • Cut into one inch chunks (approximately, but don't sweat it if they're bigger).
  • Place chunks into a pot with about 1/8 c of water and put on medium heat.
  • Let the apples cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft.
  • Mash completely until the texture is smooth. You can use your food mill if you've got one but it's not absolutely necessary for apples. 
  • Take about 1-2 tablespoons out and place in a bowl for baby's first feeding. Store the rest in an air-tight container in your fridge.

Good luck! And please keep me posted on how things go!