12.12.2011

Vegan Baby Food

Vegan baby food

So I never would have expected this to be an actual post because I assumed that most commercial baby food is typically vegan anyway. I'm not talking the pureed chicken and rice meals or anything, just the basics like strained carrots or mashed bananas. I was shocked to learn that the regular Gerber baby food was fine, but the organic line contained a bunch of additives, the main culprit being gelatin.

To be perfectly honest, and being only a fair-weather vegetarian myself, I'm not 100% sold on raising our child as a total vegan. I mean she's already had dairy because she was on regular old infant formula for a while. While I'd prefer to let her make her own decisions (no doubt influenced by her daddy), I realize at this point in her life, I make the decisions for her. That being said, at 7 months old, there is no reason for her to be consuming meat. Especially meat products like gelatin. Why on earth is it in the organic line and not the regular pesticide-laced one, I have no idea, but it said something about it being "fortified with DHA and ..." something else, I don't really remember, but the point of this ramble is that the organic line of Gerber brand baby food contains gelatin.

I was already planning on making our own baby food for the Munchkin, but this revelation kind of sealed the deal. My main reason was for the cost - commercial jars of baby food are expensive and for the cost of 4 ounces of organic sweet potatoes, I can make 4 cups. And it tastes a lot better. And its super easy. We still have a few jars for emergencies and traveling, but for the most part she eats homemade baby food

P.S. Pictured from left to right: prunes, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, golden delicious apples


PRUNE SAUCE
ingredients
  • 3 cups of dried plums (AKA prunes)
  • 4+ cups of filtered water
preparation

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, meanwhile place the prunes in a blender, food processor or a container that is safe to use with an immersion blender (I highly recommend this option - we have a Ninja blender and have the best results using the immersion blender). Pour the boiling water over the prunes and cover. Let sit at least 10 minutes or until the prunes are soft and fall apart easily.

When the prunes are soft, add another cup of water and blend the crap out of it. Scrape down the sides and add more water as necessary until you reach your desired consistency. I think I used about 4 cups, but that was to save space in the freezer (more on that in a sec).

When you reached the consistency you need for your little munchkin's eating abilities, you can serve right away (if its not too hot) or freeze for a later date. I bought a bunch of little Glad containers for baby food. You can also use the Ice Cube method, but our baby has an incredible appetite and can power through about 1/2 cup (or one Glad mini container) in a sitting, so the ice cube method is kind of annoying. Unless you have a giant ice cube maker (1/2 cup capacity per cube), which I purchased this weekend. I will let you know how that worked for us.

Makes about 4 cups, depending on how much water is used.

CARROT SAUCE
ingredients
  • 5 to 6 washed, peeled, and roughly chopped carrots
  • Filtered water
preparation

Add the carrots to a medium pot and cover with water. Cover with lid and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender to mushy.

Get out your Ninja, blender, food processor, etc and add the carrots with the cooking liquid, plus another cup of filtered water. Blend like crazy - lumps are the enemy. Scrape down the sides and add more water as necessary until you reach your desired consistency.

When you reached the consistency you need for your little munchkin's eating abilities, you can serve right away (if its not too hot) or freeze for a later date as above.

Makes about 2 cups, depending on how much water is used.

SWEET POTATO SAUCE
ingredients
  • 2 small/medium sized sweet potatoes (aka garnet yams - one ones with orange flesh)
  • Filtered water
preparation

Preheat oven to 400°. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork several times. Put in oven to cook for about 45 minutes, or until very mushy. Remove from oven and let cool 5 to 10 minutes so you don't burn yourself.

Get out your Ninja, blender, food processor, etc and scoop out the sweet potatoes from their skins. Add at least 2 cups of filtered water and blend like crazy, but be careful, this will be HOT! - again, lumps are the enemy. Scrape down the sides and add more water as necessary until you reach your desired consistency.

When you reached the consistency you need for your little munchkin's eating abilities, you can serve right away (if its not too hot) or freeze for a later date as above.

Makes about 4 cups, depending on how much water is used.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SAUCE
ingredients
  • 1 whole butternut squash, washed, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Filtered water
preparation

Add the squash to a medium pot and cover with water. Cover with lid and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the squash is tender to mushy.

Get out your Ninja, blender, food processor, etc and add the squash with the cooking liquid, plus another cup of filtered water. Blend like crazy - lumps are the enemy. Scrape down the sides and add more water as necessary until you reach your desired consistency.

When you reached the consistency you need for your little munchkin's eating abilities, you can serve right away (if its not too hot) or freeze for a later date as above.

Makes about 4 cups, depending on how much water is used.

GOLDEN DELICIOUS APPLESAUCE
ingredients
  • 3 Golden Delicious (or your choice of sweet apple)apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1 inch bits
  • Filtered water
preparation

Add the apples to a medium pot and cover with water. Cover with lid and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the apples are very tender and mushy.

Get out your Ninja, blender, food processor, etc and add the apples with the cooking liquid, plus another cup of filtered water. Blend like crazy - lumps are the enemy. Scrape down the sides and add more water as necessary until you reach your desired consistency.

When you reached the consistency you need for your little munchkin's eating abilities, you can serve right away (if its not too hot) or freeze for a later date as above.

Makes about 3 cups, depending on how much water is used.

12.09.2011

Vegan Nutella Scones


Since I finally got myself a decent night's sleep - Munchkin only woke up once last night! I thought I'd finally get around to adding recipes for a bunch of photos I accidentally posted earlier this year. The first being the Vegan Nutella Scones. These were amazing, almost like a flourless chocolate cake crossed with a scone - deep chocolate flavor, nuttiness from the hazelnuts and somehow rather light and flaky as a scone should be.

I made these on a whim last year before baby and you should be warned that this is a somewhat daunting recipe (although I didn't realize that until I was knee-deep in it). You have to toast the hazelnuts and then remove their skins. Holy crap, no one told me what a pain in the butt that is. I was burnt my fingers on the hot little numbers and covered in hazelnut skins. If you can find pre-skinned hazelnuts, I highly recommend you do so - to me this part of the recipe wasn't worth the effort of repeating. The final product was delicious though. We are addicted to Nutella in this house and the vegan options I've purchased in the past rarely do it justice. Too hard at room temperature, not enough chocolate, no creaminess, etc. But this recipe was pretty much spot on the original.

The other thing I'll add is that it makes a lot and scones are best fresh out of the oven - so make the nutella ahead of time, then invite a bunch of friends over to help you eat the delicious scones for Saturday brunch. Have them bring mimosas, too. Mimosas make everything better.


VEGAN NUTELLA SCONES

ingredients
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 6 tbsp. margarine, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 c. prune puree (1 part purnes + 1 part water, blended to hell and back in a food processor or blender), or egg replacer of your choice
  • 1/2 c. plain almond milk (doesn't have to be unsweetened)
  • 3/4 c. chopped toasted hazelnuts*
  • 1/2 c. vegan nutella of your choice

preparation

Preheat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil.

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a large bowl to combine. Cut the margarine into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter, fork, knife or food processor, until evenly combined, but there are still small pea-sized chunks of margarine.

Combine the prune puree (or other egg replacer) and almond milk in a small bowl - whisk to combine. Then add the liquids to the flour mixture, stir just until the wet ingredients are incorporated with the dry - too much mixing = tough scones. Knead briefly with your hands and on a floured surface, pat the dough into a large rectangle ( 6- by 12-inches) and drizzle half the vegan nutella over the top. Then roll up the dough along the long side to make a 6-inch cylinder. Pat the cylinder out into a disk on the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches thick. Cut the dough into 6 to 8 wedges and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile heat the remaining nutella in the microwave until melty and pourable (about 30 seconds and stir, should do the trick). Drizzle the nutella over the tops of the scones and serve immediately.


Makes 6 to 8 large scones.

*Toasting hazelnuts was a nightmare for me - you put them on a large baking sheet, toast in a 350° oven for 8 minutes, remove and toss nuts, then toast for another 5 to 6 minutes until fragrant and dark brown. Then let the nuts cool completely - this is the part I neglected to do because I didn't read the instructions. Let them cool, it'll be easier and you'll get fewer burns. When cool, place a handful of nuts in a dampened towel and rub them together to remove the skins. Repeat until all the nuts are de-skinned.


VEGAN NUTELLA

ingredients
  • 2 c. whole, toasted, skins removed hazelnuts (see note above)
  • 1-1/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 tbsp. hazelnut oil

preparation

Place nuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts liquidify and become buttery. Scrape down the sides as you go - this part took me a good 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and process until everything is combined and smooth, another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add additional hazelnut oil until you reach your desired consistency. Store in refrigerator, let come to room temperature for 15 minutes before trying to spread it on anything.


Makes about 1-1/2 cups.
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