Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Food-Grains & Beans

I've seen a whole host of resources that provide directions and describe benefits of pureeing veggies and fruits, pouring them into ice cube trays, and freezing them for later use. I LOVE to make my own baby food this way too. But I haven't seen anyone talking about how to make your own cereal for baby. Most of the time baby's first food is white rice. However there is a lot of research showing that this is NOT a healthy food, and certainly not a good "first food." Read this article from Parenting Squad if you want to know more.

The primary reason I like the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron so much is for its directions on how to make "Super Porridge." What I plan on doing here in this blog post is describing homemade cereal appropriate for babies over 9 months. I'll try to write another post that addresses months 4-9 at another time.

At 9 months a baby's digestive system is ready for mixed whole grains along with legumes (beans). This combination provides a complete protein! It is really easy to prepare and cook. Once I realized what this phrase "whole grain" actually meant, I was not only happier about feeding my baby this way, I found myself eating healthier. Here is the recipe. (Yaron, 1998; page 214).
To make 2 cups of high protein Super Porridge, mix in blender and grind:
1/3 cup of whole grains (brown rice, millet, oatmeal, or other) &
2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) dried legumes (lentils, soy grits, spilt peas, or other)

This makes about 1/2 cup of powder. Stir powder into 2 cups of boiling water, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes (20 min. if soybeans are included), stirring frequently with a whisk to remove lumps and prevent scorching. Refrigerate for 2-3 days or freeze for up to one month.

The recipe above is really all you need to know. It is that simple. What I will walk you through now is more of the logistics of how I make this method fit into my busy lifestyle.

1. Once a month or so, I get out all my grains and beans, my 1/3 measuring cup, a tablespoon, and snack sized ziplock bags. Pre-measuring saves me time. The first step is to measure 1/3 cup of any grain and place it into a snack sized baggie. The ones I used on this particular day were pearled barley, oatmeal (old fashion oats, NOT quick oats), and brown rice. In most bags I put only one type of grain, but in a few I'll partially fill the 1/3 cup with one kind of grain, and then fill the remainder of the 1/3 cup with another grain. THIS is what you call multigrain!

2. The next step is to add 2 tablespoons of the legumes to the grains. Again, sometimes I'll add only one type of legume, and sometimes I'll add several. In this photo I had lentils, black beans, pinto beans, and split peas.

3. Once I have all the baggies packaged, I organize them in a glass dish that I keep in my refrigerator. I put them in an order in which I want to feed them to my baby. Remember, you should only introduce one new food at a time, with a 3-4 day waiting period before introducing another new food. So the order matters once I start mixing grains & beans together. I don't want to give him two types of beans that he's never had before. If he has a reaction, I won't know which one is the cause.

For example, in this bag, I have barley as my grain, and black beans and slit peas for the legumes.

This bag has barley and oatmeal for the grain; navy beans and split peas for the legumes.

And this bag, has brown rice and oatmeal for the grains; and pinto beans for the legumes. As you can imagine the combination is endless.

4. Every 3 days, I get a baggie out of the fridge and dump it in my blender.

You need to blend it to a fine powder...about 2 full minutes. Sometimes the powder compacts in the bottom or edges so I'll stop blending and stir the mixture before starting the blender again. [Note: normally beans need to be presoaked, but because we are blending them, they are fully cooked with our grains in just 10 minutes.]

5. Because you can get a lot accomplished in 2 minutes; While I'm blending I measure 2 cups of water and get it boiling on the stove. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, and dump the grain/legume powder into the water.

REDUCE HEAT TO LOW. Use a wire whisk to remove all the lumps, and to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Put the lid on the pan, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Stir it occasionally, more often in the first 5 minutes.

6. While the porridge is cooking get your containers ready. I use small glass dishes with lids. With this recipe I usually get 6 individual servings, but the portion sizes change with my baby's age and appetite. These containers go into the refrigerator and should be eaten within 3 days.

7. Right before meal time, I take out my frozen veggie or fruit cubes, in this case sweet potatoes and kale, and put it in the microwave for 45 sec. With a fork, I mash up the cubes and put it in for another 20 sec. My goal is to make it only luke warm, not hot--basically just taking the chill out.

This is what the final product looks like. Super porridge mixed with veggies. You can see the grains, and the little pieces of kale (how to prepare kale). It may not look great, but my baby loves it. [Editors honesty; kale goes down best when served with fruits, like bananas or pears. And I use only 1/2 of the size cube shown here...still worth it!]

8. Then right before giving it to baby, I add a few extras, like egg yolk (3 times a week), and to increase the thickness I add wheat germ.


  1. I made my own fruit and veggies for my little ones. But I really wish I had done this; what a great way to make healthy first foods!

  2. This is great! I, too, make my own fruits and veggies, but this looks amazing. I actually have the Super Baby Food book, but the pictures make it seem so much clearer. Thank you!


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