Guest Dad: Luke Garro (Antler Agency, Sweet Local Farm) on "Home Grown Food for Babies"

Have you ever thought about making your own baby food?

Growing and preparing food for your baby is quick, easy and a great way to save some pennies while at the same time guaranteeing what you are putting into their body is healthy and natural. Below is a quick guide on how to whip up a tasty and nutritious meal for your child utilizing veggies from your garden or sourced directly from your local farmers market.

But first, a little background.

I love growing food. What started out as a hobby quickly became a full-blown obsession to see just how much food I could grow. In 2010 I launched the Home Grown Food Challenge (
http://www.antleragency.com/home-grown-food-challenge-2011/), a month long attempt to eat only things grown, harvested and preserved from one's garden. As I gear up for this year's challenge, I can't help but think about what a home grown meal would like like for my child, 11 month old baby Olive. Like all new parents, I'm obsessed with every little development my child makes and I'm willing to go the extra distance to help make each and every new experience for her as best as can be.

OK, now onto everybody's favorite subject...Food!





What to choose
There are plenty of vegetables that babies love to eat, both on the savory and sweet side of things. I suggest choosing a variety to really let them explore the flavor cornucopia that mother nature has to offer. After all, the tastes we develop at a young age can stick with us for the rest of our lives, so why not expand that palate as much as possible.

Some suggested favorites to start with include butternut squash, carrots, potatoes, sugar snap peas, yellow squash, apples and pears...all the New England staples.





How to Make
The quickest way to prepare the vegetables is to steam and puree them. You want to steam them for just long enough that they become mushy. Some vegetables, like potatoes, may take longer than others, but on average it should take 5-8 minutes. To puree, run through a food processor or blender until smooth. If you want, you can add a little bit of olive oil, which gives flavor and helps it blend smoother. Also, a little fat from nature is good for growing babies.

Once you've got the basics down, don't hesitate to explore interesting culinary combos to start fine tuning your child's potential to be the next food network star, such as butternut squash and apples, potato + kale, carrots + pear and carrots + yellow squash.




Babies can certainly eat strong flavored things, such as onion and garlic. Whether they actually will without giving you the ol' sour face is the question.

Babies should, however, avoid eating honey, strawberries and nuts. It's recommended that they wait until they are at least 12 months old, and even at that point, should consume these in moderation. I'd like to point out that I'm not a doctor so please consult the experts to get all your professional advice on potential food allergies for babies.

How to Preserve
Given the small portions that babies tend to eat, it's doubtful that your child is going to consume everything you made in one sitting. Fortunately, storage is easy. Spoon the excess food into an ice cube tray, freeze, and then pop out the frozen food cubes into a zip lock bag. Simple thaw out the cubes and feed to your child for future meals.

If you aren't keen on using ice cube trays, I suggest using Ball freezer containers. They are BPA free, dishwashwer safe, stackable and can be easily ordered online (link).

Well there you have it! What interesting food combinations are you excited to try for your child?

Please share your adventures in making home grown baby food (or adult food) on the Home Grown Food Challenge Facebook page (
facebook.com/homegrownfoodchallenge) and Tumblr page (http://homegrownfoodchallenge.tumblr.com/). Or better yet, take the pledge (http://www.facebook.com/homegrownfoodchallenge?sk=app_226629927350861) yourself to eat home grown or locally for 1 day, 1 week or the whole month of October.

Author's note:
Luke Garro is a partner at Antler Agency (
antleragency.com) and Gentlemen Farmer at Sweet Local Farm (sweetlocalfarm.com)