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Homemade baby food is doing the combo-mambo
Creamy Pear with Spinach
When making a batch of baby food, freezing the extra in an ice cube tray leaves portions just right for later use. - photo by BILL HOGAN

Count us among the fans of Peter Rabbit Organics' new line of fruit and veggie squeeze pouches for babies, with flavor combos like carrot, squash and apple; pea, spinach and apple; and sweet potato, corn and apple.

Sure, we like that they're convenient without compromising on nutrition. But we also like how they coax us out of our baby food comfort zone: banana, yogurt, applesauce, repeat.

"Remember, the wider array of foods a baby tries during his or her first year, the more likely he is to return to eating a wide range of foods later in life," says Stephanie Wood, executive editor at Parenting.

Of course nothing says you have to rely on the pros to concoct bold flavor blends.

We checked in with Wood, whose magazine is behind "Love in Spoonfuls" (Chronicle Books), one of our all-time favorite kid cookbooks, for some tips on successfully ditching the baby food blahs once and for all.

Identify favorites. "Keep an eye out for fruits and veggies your child particularly loves - say, bananas. Once he makes it clear that one is his favorite, gradually begin to combine it with other flavors like mangos or peaches."

Don't overlook dried fruits.

"Naturally dried fruits are available year-round at many specialty stores and supermarkets, and the brief step of
simmering them down into a glaze adds a whole new dimension to the food and adds a boost of antioxidants and minerals when swirled into meats and grains."

Freezing is your friend. Cook and puree fruit and veggie combos to your heart's content, and freeze serving-size portions in ice-cube trays.

Once they're frozen, you can transfer them into a labeled, dated Ziploc bag and thaw the cubes as needed.

Thaw with caution. "A microwave is the most convenient method for defrosting these cubes, but parents should be sure to place them in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute to thaw properly," says Wood.

"If they need more time, continue to warm them in 5-10 second intervals, stirring thoroughly in between and testing to gauge temperature before feeding to your baby."

Creamy Pear with Spinach

Prep: 10 minutes/Cook: 1 minute/Makes: 1 cup

Note: This recipe, adapted from "Love in Spoonfuls," can kick-start your flavor adventure.

1 handful fresh spinach leaves

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, quartered

1 pinch ground nutmeg, optional

Heat a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add spinach; cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain well; place spinach on a towel to dry.

Puree spinach, yogurt and pears in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir in nutmeg; serve or freeze.

Nutrition information: Per serving: 226 calories, 2 percent of calories from fat, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 55 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 45 mg sodium, 13 g fiber.




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