Even before my son was born, I promised myself I would only feed him the best of the best: organic, wholesome foods without added sugars, preservatives and everything else you typically find in conventional baby food. It sounded a lot easier than it was, but with a little perseverance and a lot of creativity (boiling peas at 6 a.m.? Why not?), I’ve been able to stick to that promise. And he’s loving every bite of it.
Before I go right into the recipes, I do want to tell moms who are hesitant to move their children on to foods harder than mashed carrots that I was scared to hand my child his first rice cracker. I hovered over him, breath caught in my throat, waiting for him to start choking. My finger was already hooked to scoop the offending bite out of his mouth. But he gummed it happily and, kicking his feet in his highchair, held out his sticky little hands out for more. So my advice is to trust your child. If she shows interest in your food, let her try a little bite of something with substance. She’ll most likely surprise you.
Super-Quick Finger Foods
Following are some no-recipe quick treats you can hand to your little one in a jiff (with a sharp eye kept, of course, if they’re still acclimating to solid food):
- Mashed avocado and o-shaped cereal
- Cut up cheese such as string cheese or cheddar
- Soft pear slices (remove the peel unless the pear is certified organic) and melon cubes
- Banana slices mixed with small squares of tofu
Fast Finger Foods
These finger foods have a couple ingredients and just need a little prep work before being served:
Rainbow Sticks: Cut up asparagus, green beans, carrots, purple carrots and parsnips into equal-sized sticks and boil in low-sodium vegetable stock for about 20 minutes or until the biggest sticks are tender. Drain, rinse and serve, or add a sprinkle of grated parmesan for more flavor.
Sticky Rice Balls: These are easy to make and even more fun to eat! Just be sure to eat the rice the same day and toss out leftovers as rice tends to attract bacteria. Cooked rice, however, can be frozen and stored for up to four months.
- ¼ cup brown rice
- 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock (or a fruit juice such as apple juice for a sweeter version)
- About ½ cup of chopped veggies such as 1 chopped carrot, ¼ cup peas, handful of cubed squash (for sweet, use ½ cup fruit such as ½ cubed apple, ½ cubed mango, ½ cubed pear, etc.)
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes or until rice is soft. Some liquid should still be left, but you can drain this off.
Pasta with yogurt and asparagus: Separately prepare pasta according to directions (the rotelle cut is a favorite at our house as it’s shaped like wheels, but any easy-to-chew-and-grab pasta works well) and boil a few chopped up spears of asparagus in water or low-sodium vegetable broth for about 5 – 7 minutes or until tender. Mix a few tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt (or apple Greek yogurt if your little one doesn’t like the taste of plain) with the asparagus spears and drained pasta and serve.
Not So Fast, But Great to Have Around
This recipe for homemade graham crackers is a good one to do on a weekend or when you have just a little bit of (ha, ha) extra time. It only takes about 10 minutes to prepare and the dough keeps in the fridge for up to a week. You can cut the crackers in traditional squares or use cookie cutters to make fun shapes. And the best part is you know exactly what’s going into your kids’ snack. At nine months old, this was one of my son’s favorites!
Homemade Graham Crackers
- 2/3 cup unbleached All Purpose flour
- 2 cups stone ground or regular whole wheat (stone ground gives it a more graham cracker-like texture)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup sorghum molasses (lighter than regular molasses, it tastes like a combination of honey and molasses and is simply the pressed and boiled down liquid of a sugar cane)
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cream butter, sugar, sorghum molasses and vanilla extract together.
- Separately, combine remaining dry ingredients.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F and roll dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut as desired.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm.
- Allow to cool completely before serving.
- Baked graham crackers keep for up to 5 days.
This is an incredibly fun and creative time for you and your little one, and the more variety and textures you introduce, the more you open them up to all the wonderful foods that the world has to offer. Just remember to stick to the rule of waiting for three days after introducing a new food to watch for allergies, but apart from that, let your culinary creativity run wild!
Kristin Hackler writes for ebay.com on a wide range of subjects including culinary, home and family topics. Kristin is also a journalist, mother and children’s book author.