Friday, August 10, 2012

Baby Loves Smoothies! Baby-Safe Smoothie Recipe

I wanted to make more frozen smoothie popsicles for both girls. The last batch I had made for Z and I, and just tossed any old fruit and veggie scraps I had lying around. But I ended up feeding some to Baby on a whim, since her doc had said yogurt and limited amounts of dairy were okay at her 6-month check-up. But since then I'd read that she shouldn't have raw greens for a few more months (10 months or older - ask your pediatrician.) So I wanted to make a version that would be safe for her as well.

Baby Smoothies
1 cup Baby Kale Mash (or 8 frozen 1-ounce cubes - no need to thaw, depending on your blender) 
3 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
2 bananas, peeled and cut into chunks
1 mango, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
(*roughly 5 cups assorted chunked fruit to one cup pureed greens total)
1 lime
2-5 large dollops plain Greek yogurt

Step 1: Mash and strain seeds from raspberries. 
Were I making this just for Z and myself, I wouldn't bother straining the raspberries. But since Baby had such a hard time with the seeds when I made the Spinach-Raspberry mash and forgot to strain them, I made sure to do it this time. 
I just used the back of a spoon to mash the juice and pulp through a metal strainer, but I hear food mills separate the seeds as well (by getting clogged up so you have to keep removing them!)
You can always add the seeds and leftover pulp to your own smoothies, or add water and play at making your own natural food color! (Saturate water with color, pour into separate container, add more water. Repeat until water no longer retains color. Then boil off a little excess water and add the colored water to frosting and/or cake mix within a few days, or boil it down into a gel-like concentrate and store refrigerated for a few weeks or frozen for a few months.)
I just scooped them out and ate them as I went.

Step 2: (Optional) You can choose to cook the fruits first. This may help make them taste sweeter without adding extra sugar.
I microwaved the raspberry pulp and mango covered for 3 minutes. No added water needed, as they're juicy fruits.
For most fruits (especially bananas,) cooking is not required before safe for baby to eat, although it may make them easier to puree.

Step 3: Squeeze as much juice as you can from the lime into your blender, food processor, or immersion-mixer bowl. Add raspberry pulp, bananas, mango flesh, and Kale Mash and blend/puree/process. Add dollops of yogurt, one at a time, until desired consistency is reached. I used a regular spoon from my utensils drawer rather than a measuring one.
I like Chobani Greek Yogurt because it's all-natural, and they are lifestyle and allergy-conscious. No shared equipment with nuts, corn, or soy; gluten-free; and made without gelatin, so vegetarian-friendly as well. While none of these concern me personally, I like to support companies that make it easy to tell if their products are safe. (Allergy warnings are not required by the FDA, and many ingredients are hidden under tricky names so get missed by people looking for the obvious.) So when I need to start packing lunches at a nut-free school, I'm glad I have something I won't need to worry about. It is also 95% lactose-free, which does concern me, as I'm lactose-intolerant. I don't seem to have any issues with eating my Chobani though! And the probiotics help with my... erm... other issues.
For smoothies, however, their Low-Fat is better than the Non-Fat, since it isn't as bitter. You could also use the lightly-sweetened Vanilla or Honey flavors, but that will add sugar.
If you are not making this for a baby, you can add honey to sweeten (no honey until 12 months or older!) Agave syrup is technically safe, as it's really just concentrated fructose (much like the high fructose corn syrup that gets such a bad rap! Don't kid yourself - most agave "nectar" brands you find are often just man-made fructose in disguise!) but I don't like to add sugar for baby. You can also toss the lime pulp in there, after removing the rind and seeds, if desired. Might be too stringy for baby though.

The lime juice helps cut the "green" flavor from any added greens. I learned this tip from one of the farmers at my CSA pick-up when I was picking out additional fruits to buy for smoothies and mentioned that our first two attempts tasted like dirt.
For Baby I froze some in my hollow molds, which are easier for her to gum and suck on. For Z, I made some Rocket Pops to freeze and some half-jars to chip at with a spoon, or thaw and drink. There was only enough left for one 8-ounce jar for myself.

The Verdict
Big hit all around! Z chose her smoothie pops and cups for dessert, even though they were okayed as breakfasts. She even stole one of the baby's!

Baby E loved the flavor, but is having a hard time with the cold. They melt quickly, so she gets results right away when she starts sucking/licking, which she enjoys. And they mush up, rather than drip, so it clings to the side, ready for her next slorp.
She can only get through about a third of a pop before she is done. But I pop it back in the cover and stick it back in the freezer. So far, so good.
*Disclaimer: I am not a pediatrician nor a nutritionist. When I use the term "baby safe" here, it means that as far as I know, these ingredients prepared this way should be safe for my baby at her age. Possibly with risk factors I'm willing to chance based on the research I've done.
Ask your child's doctor before trying new types of foods (fruits, veggies, greens, grains, berries, herbs, spices, nuts, etc.) I do know that raspberries are in the "true" berry family, with strawberries and blackberries, and therefore have a higher risk of allergy. Your doctor may recommend you wait until 12 or 24 months before introducing these, especially if there is a family history of any type of allergy, but especially a food allergy. (In other news, blueberries are in a different class, so are generally thought to be safe. But again, ask your doc or do some research to make an informed decision.)

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