When cooking for my husband and myself, I often try to plan meals so that my daughter can eat a little of what we are eating. What does this mean? This means that part of the meal needs to involve nutritious, organic foods that are prepared without added salt. I might use a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil, but only enough so that what I’m cooking doesn’t stick to the pan. I also use only those spices that we have already introduced. Right now, that includes garlic, basil, parsley, and cinnamon.
I have never bought jarred or packaged baby food – We have always made our own. When Charlotte was younger, I would pop part of our dinner into a food processor. She often ate the same “baby stuff” that you would find in jars, such as plain, pureed sweet potatoes, squash, or peas. Now that she’s older, her foods have more spices and textures. She prefers finger foods, so most of her dinners are diced rather than pureed.
Cooking this way is easier for several reasons:
1. It’s easy!
2. My daughter gets yummy food that I can feel good about.
3. I always make enough for her to eat again at lunch the next day.
4. Sometimes I even have enough to freeze into cubes, which is great to have on hand in case I’m not cooking that night. (Like last night, when we ordered pizza! Mmm. Pizza. . . )
5. I save $$ not having to buy all of the packaged baby foods and toddler meals.
A few nights ago, I made pork chops, green beans, and mushrooms for dinner. While pork chops are still a little advanced for Charlotte, she loves green beans and mushrooms. Here’s the recipe:
2 Pork Chops (This is if you both want one. You might want more to eat, have older kids, or want leftovers. In which case, toss a few extra in there!)
¼ Cup Flour or Oats (Pulsed to a powder in a food processor)
2 Tbsp Water
Bag of Frozen Green Beans
1 Container of Mushrooms (8-10 ounces), sliced
Spices for Pork Chops: Whatever makes you happy, but we like: Pepper, Garlic, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, and Parsley.
Spices for Green Beans: We just use garlic – and only a pinch.
EVOO for cooking
Step One: Sprinkle the pork chops with your spices, on both sides.
Step Two: Drizzle some oil into your pan and heat it up. I cook on medium-high heat on a gas oven.
Step Three: Bread your pork chops
First, crack your egg onto one plate. Beat it with a fork and add water. Then, put your flour (or oats) on the other plate. Then, dip both sides of your pork chop in the egg and then the flour (or oats). Make sure that it’s coated evenly.
Step Four: Cook your pork chops
Wait until water dripped on the pan sizzles. Make sure there are a couple tablespoons of oil in the pan, and add your pork chops. They’re going to cook for about 15-20 minutes on each side, depending on your stove. For now, just let them cook and don’t mess with them.
Step Five: Start cooking your mushrooms and green beans
After the pork chops have been cooking for five minutes, put your mushrooms into a second pan. Cook uncovered with a teeny bit of oil, for ten minutes. Stir them occasionally. Add your frozen green beans and cover the pan. Because the green beans are frozen, they will create a lot of steam. This is what will cook them.
Step Six: You’re halfway there!
You should be about 15-20 minutes into the process. Turn your pork chops, and add a little EVOO. Rotate your pan so that the EVOO is evenly distributed and not just all hot and weird in one corner of your pan. Cooking times might vary, so if the undersides are brown sooner, turn them then!
Check the green beans. They should be tender by now. If they are, uncover them. Sprinkle them with garlic and a tiny bit of EVOO. Now – Leave them alone! No stirring for at least 5 minutes!
Step Seven: Wrap it up!
Keep an eye on both pans. When the underside of your pork chops get brown, they are probably done. This should take about 5-10 minutes. The USDA says that pork chops are done at 145 degrees, but I prefer 155-160. I don’t trust myself, so I always cut into one to make sure it’s done. Do what works for you and doesn’t poison your family. Stir your green beans one last time, and TaDa!
I feed Charlotte green beans and mushrooms. I snapped the photo after plating them, but I diced them before giving them to her. After we were finished with dinner, I diced and froze the leftover green beans for future meals. I used an ice cube tray, just like I did with the zucchini.
Stay tuned for more baby friendly family recipes!
Do you have any tips for dinners that also work well for baby? I would love to hear them!