Baby food is simple. Apples, carrots, sweet potatoes – chop them and steam them. Mash or blend to desired consistency.

Who even needs a recipe?

I’ll tell you who: Tired parents. Parents who are so exhausted – by diaper changes and breastfeeding and bottle washing, by sleepless nights and days spent juggling child care and career, by all of the on-the-job, high-stakes learning that parenthood requires – that they can barely feed themselves, let alone figure out how to feed a child who may or may not have developed the necessary muscle control to swallow mush without choking.

“The Best Baby Food” eases them into the basics. Whole pages are dedicated to teaching parents how to puree just carrots or just acorn squash. But chef and co-author Jordan Wagman also has included handy tips on best practices for buying produce and on how to repurpose baby food into snacks for the whole family. Nutritionist Jill Hillhouse adds helpful tidbits about the health benefits of each food. There are directions for making and storing whole-grain flours to make hot cereals and instructions for homemade yogurt. And, after parents have mastered the basics, the book helps them add to their repertoire with sections about expanding a child’s palate and making meals and snacks for toddlers.

I’ve made many of the recipes in the “Starting Solids” section of the book. Not all have worked for me or baby. One oatmeal recipe had too little water, and beets roasted for hours came out too dry. Then there was the broccoli puree that went uneaten – by baby and me. Turns out, broccoli really needs crunch.

Mostly, though, I’ve been glad to have this book. It has kept me focused when I’m cooking, bleary-eyed, too early in the morning. The recipe below is so simple it seems silly to print it here. But the roasted bananas were a revelation. They become a whole new fruit, silky and sweet – not just for baby food. In fact, Wagman and Hillhouse suggest doubling the batch and using some to make banana lassi, with yogurt and mint.




2 bananas, unpeeled

1/2 cup filtered water

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Place bananas on a baking sheet and roast in preheated oven until soft, about 30 minutes. Transfer bananas to a plate and transfer cooking liquid from the baking sheet to a saucepan.
Set bananas aside and let cool until they can be easily handled.

Peel cooled bananas, holding them over the saucepan to catch the liquid, then add to the saucepan. Add water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and transfer to blender or use an immersion blender in the saucepan.

Puree until smooth.

Let cool until warm to the touch before serving, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

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