Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sweet Potato Baby Food: A First Foray

The more I read about making baby food and the more I listen to the advice of mothers who have come before, I have been advised by multiple sources that baby food should be bland and smooth. Babies, many of my sources say, have very strong taste buds and will not appreciate any type of seasoning. Do not add any salt to their food and absolutely no sugar of any kind. In reading up on the subject I have learned it is advised to start your infant on solid foods no earlier than 4 months and no later than 6 months. At this early stage it is important to keep the food as simple as possible, as they will eat (or not eat) whatever you set in front of them. You can therefore expect them to enjoy such maligned foods as carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes and many other vegetables. What happens when they get older? How to entice them to continue to eat healthy with such bland presentations, particularly if they’ve inherited your foodie palate? Well, I have started to read a magical book about a stay at home foodie dad’s experience with cooking for an adventurous eater* and I have (hopefully) come up with a simple solution, at least in the case of sweet potatoes. If you’re planning to make this for an infant younger than 6 months, skip my seasoning. I your child is older than 8 months these ingredients, particularly in such small amounts, should be fine. If you decide your baby isn’t ready for seasoning, this makes a fabulous fall side, particularly for the holidays. I've used a food mill to make it smooth, which we received as a wedding gift from my awesome foodie boss.

Sweet Potato Puree with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon

Makes approximately 6 servings

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Teaspoon maple syrup
¼ Teaspoon cinnamon
1 tiny pinch salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush skins with melted butter and place on baking tray.
2. Bake for 40 -45 minutes, until you can easily pierce with a fork at the thickest point.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
4. When potatoes are cool enough to handle. peel potatoes and pass the flesh through a food mill. If you are making this for a baby under 6 months old, you are ready to serve.
5. To spice it up, add sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon to melted butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has melted.
6. Mix sugar/syrup mixture into potato puree and stir until smooth. Add salt, a tiny bit at a time, to taste. Remember to salt it less than you would for your own tastes. It is now ready to serve.

*If you’re interested in checking it out, the book is called Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton

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