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Weaning: Cook ahead tricks and tips – Part 1

Weaning: Cook ahead tricks and tips – Part 1
Jodi Harris

Now that baby’s weaning is well underway, you are ready to start planning their meals so you can do a bit of batch cook and stock the freezer. This blog is all about making your life easier in the kitchen, because having a crawling baby makes it busy enough!

Get all that chopping done in one go.

Prepping ahead is the easiest way to get ahead in the kitchen both for your meals and your baby’s. So here is an idea, when making soup or casseroles for the family, make a base with onions, garlic, celery, courgette, carrots and a few herbs (Parsley is a favourite of mine but you can also use basil or rosemary, or a combination!) and reserve three good handfuls. Chop them up in your Béaba BabyCook ® and cook them gently in the rice basket until soft and fragrant. Add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and transfer to your Béaba Multiportion ® for freezing.  Next time you need a quick purée, all you need to do is defrost a cube or two, mix with some steamed sweet potato, or a little wholemeal pasta, a little cheese, and…lunch is ready in a flash!

Another version of these gently fried veg includes tomato passata and aubergines, in which case just bend the veg above in your Béaba BabyCook ®, transfer to a casserole where you’ve heated a good glug of olive oil and fry until very soft but not brown. About 10minutes. Add a bay leaf, 500ml of passata and a finely grated aubergine (you can also chop it in the Babycook ®). Cook for 30min until the sauce has thickened and it is starting to taste nice and sweet.

You can also use this veggie-loaded tomato sauce


Make the most of your freezer…and use the space efficiently!

Freezing is a great way of preserving food as it stops the growth of potentially harmful microorganisms, although it does not kill them and that’s why it is important to cool your food drown quickly and freeze it as soon as you can to avoid bacteria growing before you put your food in the freezer.

Freeze sauces like the ones above in small portions to make small pasta meals or risottos. You can also use larger pots for family meals. Whatever you do ensure that you:

a) LABEL everything because once frozen most meals looks the same!

b) USE CONTAINERS WITH A LID because if the food is in contact with air, oxidation of nutrients will occur reducing the levels of vitamins and minerals. Lids are important too so you can stack up the containers to save space and

c) KEEP A LIST on your phone on what’s in the depths of your freezer – it can take the stress out of dinner when you are out and about and avoids food getting forgotten at the bottom of the freezer for months.

And here are some ideas to use the lovely sauces in your freezer to get dinner on the table presto!

Baked beans: just defrost your tomato and veg sauce, heat up until bubbling, add enough canned borlotti beans to feed the family and a good pinch of cumin and paprika. Simmer for 10min. Serve with wholemeal bread or a gorgeously fluffy baked potato.

Quick bolognaise: fry the mince in a little olive oil and when browned all over add your defrosted tomato sauce and whatever herbs you fancy. Serve with wholemeal pasta or quinoa. And a little parmesan, of course!

Shepherds pie: couldn’t be easier, just proceed as per the bolognaise recipe above but add a tablespoon of flour (GF if required) to thicken the sauce and a good handful of finely chopped mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes until the mushrooms are well cooked and soft. Transfer to a baking dish (I like the glass ones as you can freeze a pie, defrost and reheat in the same tray) and top with mashed sweet potato (See below) or a mix of potatoes and other roots steamed in the Béaba BabyCook ® and mashed with a little milk and butter or olive oil and garlic if you prefer.

Chicken curry: defrost your sauce and fry pieces (bite size or minced depending of the age of our baby) of chicken thigh until brown. Transfer the chicken to a plate and discard the fat from the pan. Heat up to sauce and add ground cumin, coriander, grated ginger and fresh/dried turmeric. Chili powder is an option as your little one grows. About ¼ tsp per adult. Fry for two minutes and then add the chicken back to the pan. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and serve with plenty of chopped coriander and brown rice or quinoa.

Sweet potatoes with (almost) everything

And now that we are talking about sweet potatoes. I must admit I love these bright orange tubers and not just because they taste fantastic and are great in soups, purées, hummus, simply roasted, as chips or veggie crisps and…even for breakfast with a good layer of savoury fetta and some pomegranate seeds.

Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene which is a great antioxidant that the body can turn into vitamin A [1] necessary for eye development [2] especially important for those on vegetarian diets as the main sources of vitamin A are animal products.

And they are a great source of fibre too, let’s not forget that babies need some fibre in their diet to keep those little tummies in check and fibre doesn’t get any tastier than sweet potatoes. So, to get ahead in the kitchen, next time you have the oven on, throw in a few well-scrubbed but unpeeled sweet potatoes (after rubbing them with a little oil and pricking them with a fork here and there) and bake them at 180C until super soft (approx. 45min depending on size). Once cold, scoop out the flesh and freeze it in your Béaba Multiportion ® for quick additions to soups, hummus and risottos.

A little baking on Sundays….

Muffins both sweet and savoury are great for snacks and breakfast. And they are not just good for little ones, older children and adults will love them too. So get a large batch ready on Sunday .

More on Cooking ahead tips and hints part 2.

[1] Bayerl (2008) Beta-carotene in dermatology: Does it help? Acta Dermatovenerologica Alpina Panonica et Adriatica 17 4 160-2
[2] Gibney M Lanham-New S Cassidy A Vorster H (2009) (2nd ed) Introduction to Human Nutrition Wiley Blackwell

Written by Purple Carrot Nutrition: