When Eli was born I was BLESSED with one of the world's pickiest eaters. Even plain rice cereal made him gag. He pretty much lived on fruits and veggies disguised by fruits.
When Siley came along I was BLESSED with a baby who would eat anything I put near his mouth. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I had played around with baby food recipes with Elijah but was always discouraged when I'd spend 30 minutes prepping a dish that he wouldn't go near. I gave it a whirl again with Si and it's been awesome.
I stumbled upon Weelicious right around the time #2 was transitioning to solids. I made up my mind that I was going to make at least some of his food- mostly b/c the food we have available in our Walmart is super boring. Sweet potatoes and chicken. Chicken and corn. Corn and sweet potatoes. Apples. Apples and pears. Pears and Apples. Follow me?
I started with simple stuff: steamed green beans pureed with unsweetened apple juice, yellow squash, zucchini, etc. Soon we were given the go ahead to work in protiens... and you know what? You CAN puree chicken, much to my surprise. My first time I was skeptical, but I got a really nice saucy consistency. I started to work in herbs and spices to enhance flavors and develop his tastes... cinnamon first, a little nutmeg, some cumin, basil, parsley... At this point the child has a more varied palate than anyone in this family.
Initially I was nervous about the time commitment... I didn't want to create a gourmet food monster and then run out of time one week and have him stick up his nose at a can of peas (I am not in ANY way against canned baby food... I have a couple jars on hand for emergencies still!) But this process is surprisingly fast. I spent 1 hour tonight (after the kids were in bed!) cooking, steaming, and pureeing and made a solid 2 weeks of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. After a couple weeks of that you build up a HUGE stock-and it kind of feels like you own your own grocery store when you reach in the freezer and your kid has 8 different breakfast options. I feel like this is an easy ego-booster for tired mommy who had a big list of "to-do's" and didn't get to play one-on-one with baby as much as she wanted to that day...
Weelicious is by far the best internet resource I have found for this project. Some of the recipes are complex, others are as simple as mashing up half a banana with a fork, swirling in 2 TBSP of oats, a TSP of molasses and a bit of water and warming it in the microwave (that's Siley's favorite breakfast!!)
Once you start, you learn faster and faster ways of working. Tonight I threw together red lentils, tomato puree, fresh ginger, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, brown rice and a little salt into a pot to simmer for 30 minutes... while that went down I steamed apples, cinnamon and walnuts for an apple-walnut puree (breakfast) and then did a spinach/banana puree that needed no steaming at all-just throw it in the food processor. I've started finding my own secret ways of adding in extra nutrients: instead of mixing in water for a creamier consistency, I add a little splash of Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness juice: you can get it at Walmart in the milk/juice section. I drink their carrot juice religiously, and this green juice is just as good. I've even gotten #1 to down a couple glasses! It's a grocery splurge, but totally worth it.
At the risk of sounding even MORE self righteous than I already do, Siley's healthy eating has really been motivation for us all to overhaul our diets. Slowly but surely Mr. Eli is incorporating in more raw veggies, new fruits, extra water, vitamins, and MEAT. A huge hurdle:) It's even helped my own diet. Every now and then I'll throw a couple of Si's spinach & broccoli cubes into a smoothie and you can barely taste them.
Ok, you CAN taste them but you acquire a taste for them and they aren't so bad. And you feel good-physically AND mentally.
One LAST time: nothing can ever replace a freshly opened can of salsa con queso. Nothing.