I am a first-time Mom on a budget. In this ongoing blog series, I explore ways to create healthy, organic meals that appeal to both my baby and husband. I’m having fun sharing my trials and tribulations of trying to cook healthfully and economically, while at the same time pleasing my family. I started out simple by turning mashed up baby foods into soups, like creating a vegetable soup out of a pea base and a carrot ginger soup from locally grown carrots. I even turned one of my purees into a zucchini pesto. But now, it’s time for my baby to move onto something more substantial. And, me too. So, let’s see what I can do with finger foods. Every Mom has her fears. Some Moms fear germs. Other Moms fear accidents. (Picture a Mom chasing after her child with anti-bacterial soap in a completely baby-proof room.) But alas, I can’t judge. For some odd reason I have an even stranger fear: a fear of finger foods. That’s right, finger foods. I have become so comfortable with baby food purees that making this transition to finger foods is flat out scary.
So what’s a new Mom to do? Well, I sent out an email titled “a call for finger food help” and the advice came pouring in from friends and family members. Thankfully, I discovered some really interesting and healthy foods for my baby. The key was to start SOFT! My friend from Oklahoma (who has two kids) recommended bananas and avocados, the “gateway” finger foods that would lead to a world of finger food opportunities. Soft and mild flavors worked well. I chopped them up in tiny pieces and my son was able to grasp them with his fingers and place them in his mouth. Even though he only has a few teeth, he was able to gnaw on the fruit, salivate and swallow. My friend from Ethiopia recommended potatoes. So for my next venture, I roasted organic fingerlings and sweet potatoes, cut them into soft chunks and served them to my baby to enjoy. So I asked myself the question, how can I turn chunks of soft fruits and vegetables into a dinner that my husband will enjoy? The answer: stir-fry! Ingredients: ½ pound of organic tofu or chicken 2 large handfuls of organic baby carrots 2 organic yellow squash 1 head of organic broccoli 1 organic mango 1 tablespoon cooking oil 1 organic lime 1 tablespoon soy sauce Cooked brown rice Fill a pot with enough water to barely reach the bottom of a metal steamer or steaming basket (this is for the finger foods). Heat to boiling. Meanwhile, dice the tofu or chicken into bite-size pieces. Chop the baby carrots and yellow squash into ¼-inch thick pieces and break up the broccoli into small chunks. Place ¾ cup of the mixed vegetables aside (for the baby). Peel the mango and chop it up into pieces small enough for your baby to handle. Place ¼ cup of the mango on a baby dish. The water should be boiling now, so add the baby’s veggies to the pot and steam for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are soft enough for your baby to handle. When soft, remove and allow to cool before serving.
While the baby’s veggies are cooking, heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over high. When hot, add the tofu or chicken and stir fry until cooked through. Remove from pan and add the veggies. Stir fry for a few minutes and then add the mango. Continue cooking until veggies are crisp yet tender. Toss back in the tofu or chicken along with the lime juice and soy sauce. Stir until all is heated through. Serve over cooked brown rice. In my house, this dinner was a crowd pleaser. Both my husband and baby loved it! And I must say that it was fun to watch my son going after all of the colorful and vitamin-rich finger foods. So, there you have it — a healthy and economical stir-fry for my husband and a nice variety of finger foods for my baby. And in closing, a quick shout out to my family and friends for helping me “take the fear out of finger foods.”