As soon as your children are old enough for solids, they are old enough to be young CSA Share fans! Our youngest members love turnips, beets, and fresh tomatoes along with the more familiar tasting strawberries and carrots in the CSA Share boxes. While we’re not doctors or nutritionists we’ve picked up some tips along the way to help raise young vegetable lovers. Current research demonstrates that the choices children make at an early age impact their health and food choices throughout their lives. From the beginning, you can give them the tools to create a healthy lifestyle. The American Association of Pediatrics offers guidelines as to when babies may be ready for solids; generally speaking, they suggest some time around 4 – 6 months, though every child is different. Some parents choose to start with purees, and some start with “Baby Led Weaning”.
Baby led weaning, is what it sounds like. Baby takes the lead when it comes to trying solid foods. Babies slowly learn how to pick up and eat food while breast milk or formula are still the main source of nutrition. Soft foods are offered in bite-size manageable pieces from the start. Baby sits at the table with the rest of the family at meal time. Fans of baby led weaning say this promotes babies and kids eating the same meal as grown-ups from the very beginning. Babies are exposed to a variety of foods and textures from the start. If you choose this method there is a lot of research out there to help you get started!
If you’re choosing baby led weaning, your CSA Share Box is a great place way to offer a variety of veggies! Some ideas to start are soft bites of carrots, parsnips, beets, broccoli, summer squash, zucchini, winter squashes, etc. Raw bites of tomato, cooked and finely shredded bits of greens, and eventually move to soups and stews. Be careful to give very small pieces that your baby can handle. Offer a spoon or fork from an early age, babies and kids want to be like us!
Some parents go with the more traditional route-starting baby on cereal and purees before moving to solid foods. Some parents (myself included) go with a combination of both methods. We recommend you choose whatever works best for your family, and of course consult your pediatrician when making these choices.
Whichever method you choose, your CSA Share Box is the perfect venue to introduce a variety of new healthy foods each week. If you’re making purees use anything from your CSA Share Box steamed and pureed or even raw purees. Start introducing vegetables and fruits one at a time, then make combinations of foods that baby has tolerated well. Steam everything to make it soft (multi layered bamboo steamer works well or large steamer pot) puree in batches, then freeze in ice cube trays or baby food trays, and store in containers or bags labeled with date and ingredients. I loved these baby food trays for freezing purees. You’ll see a lot of “baby food makers” out there. In my opinion a food processor and a steamer work just as well and you might already have them. If you’re making food for the whole week the bigger food processor the better. I love my KitchenAid Food Processor, I think it works just as well as pricier models and is a fraction of the price. For steaming we love our bamboo steamer , it has a lot of uses beyond the baby years.
Ideas for purees from your CSA Ingredients:
single veggies: carrots, beets, squash, tomatoes, potato,
combinations: broccoli with carrots or squash, cabbage or kale with carrots, beets, or squash, potato and greens, tomato with carrot, squash, or greens, eggplant with tomato or squash, anything you can think of!
What does your baby love to eat out of your CSA? Anything that surprises you? We’d love to hear about it, in the comments! Here are two tried and true baby-friendly recipes, Carrot Sun-Burgers and Greens Pesto. You’ll notice I use sunflower seeds in place of nuts, nuts are not recommended for children under the age of one year.
Carrot “Sun Burgers”
This recipe is great for baby led weaning-my son ate these at around 10 months old, cut into small bite size pieces.
1 stalk of celery sliced
2 good size carrots grated
3 sliced green onions
1 cup sunflower seeds soaked for about a day
1/2 cooked brown rice
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 cup flax meal
Preheat oven to 300F. Drain and rinse sun seeds. In a food processor pulse sun seeds and spices, then add cooked rice. Pulse until a gray paste forms. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
Pulse carrots, celery, and onions in food processor until minced Add to the bowl with the sun seed mixture and mix until combined. It will be pretty watery, mix in the flax meal, this should soak up most of the water. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Shape into 6 patties, They should be on the small side and as thin as possible. I was astonished at how well they held together. The larger ones cracked, but still stayed a patty. Bake on the parchment lined cookie sheet at 300 for about 30 min, flipping once. They could then be pan fried to crisp them up a bit. These freeze well, to reheat, thaw and pan fry a few minutes on each side.
Baby Friendly Pesto
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (you can use nuts, babies under the age of one should not have nuts)
1/2 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese
1/4-1/3 cup olive oilMince Garlic. Pulse in food processor until minced. Add cheese and sun seeds, pulse until combined. Add greens, then stream in oil while processing.
Add lemon juice. Babies should not have added salt. If making for adults or older children you can add salt and pepper to taste. I make it without and then add to dishes if I am eating it. Spread on bread and dice up for your little ones or toss with pasta! Little ones might also love it on a spoon!