This article originally appeared in Mandy’s blog at MommaSociety.com – check out everything she does right here.
I promise, I’m done. After these homemade baby food recipes – you won’t hear another peep from me about iron. Why it matters. Or how to best boost your baby’s absorption of this uber important brain-building mineral. At least, not for a few hours…
Iron and its buddy zinc aren’t the only nutrients for baby that I obsessed over. There’s also vitamin D and long-chain omega 3 fats. If you want to get real, part of my obsession has to do with the fear that many mamas have around giving their babies meat.
Like, how do I even cook it?
I mean, you can buy baby food jars with pureed meat. But making it yourself? It might feel a little outside your comfort zone.
But we all know that homemade food is waaaaaay better than store-bought because you control ingredient quality (organic and pasture raised – I’ll take it) and you know how fresh your baby’s food is. What’s more, meat is hands down the most valuable source for nutrients that your baby needs. Namely, meaty minerals like iron and zinc. Vitamin D. And long-chain omega 3s – you might know these fats as DHA and EPA.
These nutrients – iron, zinc, vitamin D, and DHA – matter because they support the development of your baby’s brain and immune system. And once your baby moves into childhood, you can’t really go back and correct low levels or missing nutrients. The “damage” may be small and hardly noticeable, but there’s plenty of science to confirm that something like iron deficiency anemia during babyhood does affect mental and emotional fortitude later on.
For example, this recently popped up: Anemia from low levels of iron has been linked to surprising behavior later on in life – like excessive alcohol use and risky sexual conduct during adolescence. YIKES. Obvi this mighty mineral matters in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Which explains why you may hear your pediatrician or other friendly folk go on and on about it.
Now, onward with the recipes.
Five Iron-Rich Recipes For Homemade Baby Food
A lot of my baby recipes use dulse flakes instead of salt, because dulse is a seaweed rich in trace minerals and wee bits of sodium. I also tend to use allspice instead of pepper – it’s a little kinder to your baby’s palate, gives just the right amount of spice, and works to soothe any digestive problems that may pop up.
Regarding fat in my recipes…does lard horrify you? So many of us grew up in a low-fat, non-fat culture that the current exoneration of saturated fat is a little weird. It’s no longer the Big Bad lurking in eggs and bacon. It’s not really that bad at all. That said, I gravitate towards these fats when cooking for baby:
- Duck fat – A good source of choline and vitamin K2 when from it’s sourced well-raised or wild ducks
- Lard – One of the few foods that contains vitamin D when sourced from happy, pastured raised pigs
- Coconut oil – A safe cooking fat for high heat, it’s brain fuel and (usually) hypoallergenic
I limited myself to five recipes for the week – with avocado making repeat appearances. If you’re following the meal plan that features these recipes, you can definitely switch things up.
1 – Liver Pate
For a full ode to liver, go here. In short, liver is a true superfood and filled with an absorbable form of nutrients that does a lot of good for your growing baby – things like iron, zinc, choline, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2.
- 1/2 pound liver, clean out sinewy bits and cut into cubes
- 1 green apple, peeled and sliced – if constipation is an issue, use pear
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons raw cream, or bone broth
- Place 2 tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil into a pan on medium heat. Sprinkle apples with allspice and cook until soft.
- Add liver, thyme, and 2 more tablespoons of ghee to the pan. Cook until liver is pink inside and no longer raw.
- Pour everything into a blender.
- Deglaze the pan with 2 tablespoon of raw cream, bone broth, or breast milk.
- Add to blender, along with liver and apples. Blend until smooth.
- Store in small jars or freeze in a silicone tray and store for up until 6 months, until ready for use.
2 – Whipped Bone Marrow “Butter”
Bone marrow butter takes time to make. First you roast. Then you whip. Is it worth it? YES. Bone marrow is uber special because it’s a fat that contain heme iron. How amazing is that??!
- 3 lbs beef femur bones, long cut
- Heat oven to 425 F. Place marrow bones, marrow side-up, on a baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes.Remove from oven. After the bones have cooled enough to touch, scoop the marrow out and into a bowl. Also, pour all fat from your baking sheet and into the bowl. Place it in the refrigerator.
- Remove from oven. After the bones have cooled enough to touch, scoop the marrow out and into a bowl. Also, pour all fat from your baking sheet and into the bowl. Place it in the refrigerator.
- Once the marrow is cold (the fat should firm up), use a mixer with a whisk attachment to whip until the bone marrow is white and fluffy.
- Whipped marrow lasts 3 weeks in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.
Bone Marrow Fritter
Now it’s time to make a tasty fritter with your whipped bone marrow. These are yummy – you may want to make extra for yourself. And if you’d like to fully geek out over fritters, go here.
- 3 tablespoons cassava flour
- 1 tablespoon whipped bone marrow “butter”
- 1 very ripe banana
- Make a quick batter by mashing ingredients with a fork.
- Heat a pan (I used a well seasoned cast iron pan) over a medium-low heat. When hot, add enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan and reduce heat to low. Choose a heat stable fat, such as coconut oil, ghee, tallow, or lard.
- Form the batter into patties and carefully place into the hot skillet. The recipe above makes three fritters.
- Cook until the bottoms are browned and the fritters have set, around four minutes. They should feel rm to the touch.
- Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
- You can easily double or triple the recipe to make a freezable batch of fritters. To freeze, layer parchment paper between each one and store in an air-tight container for up to six months.
3 – Dusted Avo Slices
If you use spirulina, these avocado slices are fortified with iron. If you use camu camu powder, they’re fortified with vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of non-heme iron. If you use both, #icanteven.
• 1 avocado
• 1 teaspoon camu camu powder, I like Pure Radiance C
- When storing avocados, keep in the refrigerator to stop ripening.
- When ready to use, keep avocado on countertop for one to two days.
- Peel, pit, and slice avocados.
- Dust with spirulina or camu camu powder to make avocado slices easier for baby to hold.
- Store sliced, unused avocado in an airtight container with 1/4 red onion.
4 – Roasted Squash + Beef Puree
Most of my recipes tend to follow the self-feeding principles of baby-led weaning. But sometimes purees are necessary or easier for your baby. So I wanted to include a puree recipe that I recently made for my littlest. Note: When you prepare squash, make life easy – just slice and roast. You can quickly remove the seeds and skin after roasting.
- 1 cup butternut squash, roasted
- 1/2 pound ground beef, pasture raised
- 1 tablespoon lard
- 1 teaspoon dulse flakes
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- Heat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- To roast squash, simply cut in half and place face down on baking sheet. Leave seeds in, you can scoop them out later when squash has cooked.
- Place squash halves in oven and roast for 30 – 45 minutes, depending on size of the squash. When it’s done, you can easily pierce with a fork.
- While squash cooks, place beef in a pan and sprinkle with dulse flakes and thyme. On medium high heat, cook meat and pull off of heat just before it begins to brown. You do not want to overcook it. Place in bowl with any rendered fat and set aside.
- To make puree, place roasted squash, browned beef, and lard in medium bowl. Use an immersion blender to blend.
- Puree will be thick and lumpy. If you wish, you can modify consistency by adding bone broth. Freeze leftovers into one ounce portions.
5 – Lamb Chops
Lamb is a red meat. As such, it’s a good source of easy-to-absorb heme iron. Lamb chop is perfect for a baby because it’s so easy to hold. Not to mention, delicious.
- 2 lamb chops
- dulse flakes, to taste
- ground allspice, to taste
- Sprinkle both sides of the chops with dulse flakes and allspice.
- Allow meat to sit out, covered, for half an hour – this allows it to cook more evenly.
- Move the rack in the oven to the top or second from top slot so the meat will be about 2 inches from the element. Preheat the oven to broil on high.
- Place meat on a broiler-proof pan or cookie sheet. When oven is preheated, broil 5-7 minutes on each side.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days and reheat when ready to offer again.