Creative Cooking: Using Baby Food

“If you could choose one superpower, Mommy, what would it be?”

My son is always asking me questions which cause me to think. When he asked me about which superpower I’d like to have, I had to take few minutes to consider my answer. I finally said, it would be difficult for me to choose between supersonic hearing so I could catch what my children were whispering about and the ability to fly, just because, well, that would be cool.

In response, my son said that he would choose the ability to change into different animals because then he’d have lots of powers. If he wanted to fly, he’d become a bird; if he wanted to be invisible, he’d become a chameleon; if he wanted to be fast, he’d become a cheetah; if he wanted to be strong, he’d become an elephant. (These are the examples he gave me.)

I have to say that I was quite impressed. My limited linear thinking brought a quandry, forcing me to have to choose between superpowers I wanted.  My son, however, had thought outside the box and found an answer which would give him the opportunity to have all the possible powers he could want.

When it comes to cooking, I think we can sometimes get caught in the same trap. We think about how to cook and what to cook in only one way, whether it’s only cooking the way we were taught or sticking to only traditional methods and ingredients or  being afraid to ever experiment. We don’t consider that maybe there’s an “outside of the box” approach we can take to both ingredients and process.

Recently I received a question from a mother which made me think about an “outside the box” cooking option which I use. Baby food. A mom wanted to use bananas in muffins but her daughter didn’t like the chunkiness of the banana, which is the consistency she got when she mashed them, or the little black specks, which showed up if she pureed them in her food processor. (It occurred to me that this mother must have children on the spectrum like I do!)

My response to her was to use baby food. Nowadays, at least at my grocery store, you can get all natural (only fruit or vegetables and water), jarred baby food, and there are many benefits to using the baby food: 1) They keep well in your pantry so they’ll be on hand when you need them; 2) when on sale, you can get them at a really low price which is more affordable than fresh fruit and vegetables; 3) they provide a concentrated flavor without the work; and 4) the jars are wonderful to have on hand for those craft projects your kids are required to do for school or for those cute little holiday gifts you always see in the “make your own” magazines but which you never do because you don’t have those little jars!

Some uses for baby food:

1. To make muffins, breads, pancakes, waffles, cakes, etc…: Use the baby food version in your recipes instead of having to cook and puree or mash the fresh equivalent.

2. As a thickener: Vegetable baby food is great for thickening your gravies, soups, pasta sauce, casseroles, stews, etc…. They add flavor and thickness without adding anything else.

3.  To add nutrients to your recipes: Add vegetable baby foods to your meatloaf instead of that sugary condensed tomato soup. Make a glaze for your chicken with a fruit baby food. Use baby food as a binder for your bread crumb coated baked fish or for your meatballs. Create your own fruit or vegetable butter for spreading onto toast.

4.  As a mix-in: Mix in baby food to store bought yogurt or cream cheese or cottage cheese to create a flavorful treat. Add baby food to the smoothie you make for breakfast. Mix in baby food to your favorite dipping sauce to create a new flavor.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

(makes 24)

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

Four 6 0z jar containers of banana baby food

3/4 cup liquid egg whites

1/2 cup Agave

1/2 cup safflower oil

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

2. Mix the flour, powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together. Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

3. Mix the baby food, egg whites, agave, and oil together.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and very quickly mix the batter up just until the dry ingredients are moist.

5. Divide the batter evenly among the 24 cups. The cups will be filled to the top.

6. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool in the muffin tins for five minutes. Remove the muffins to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

 

 

 

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