Guides

Five Homemade Baby-Food Recipes From a Philly-Area Chef and Parent

Tyler Akin, chef-partner of Hotel Du Pont's Le Cavalier, shares nutrient-dense recipes that'll satisfy your little one's appetite.


Five homemade baby-food recipes from Tyler Akin of Le Cavalier at Hotel Du Point. / Photograph via Getty Images.

“I’m New at This” is Be Well Philly’s biweekly series for new and soon-to-be parents. This educational resource covers the ins and outs of prepping for the arrival of a little one and taking care of them — and yourself — with insight and advice from local experts. Tips featured in “I’m New at This” are recommendations, and we believe in pursuing methods and approaches that work best for your unique family. Have a question you’d like to see answered? Email Be Well editor Laura Brzyski at Lbrzyski@phillymag.com.


Tyler Akin knows how to wow critics and diners alike. The current chef-partner of Le Cavalier at Hotel Du Pont in Wilmington was also behind former Philly restaurants Res Ipsa and Stock. But his latest audience is perhaps the most critical of all: his youngest daughter Sophie, now 18 months old.

Akin had noticed that even high-end and ostensibly “better quality” shelf-stable baby foods out there were lacking. So, he set out to do it better, researching and experimenting with ingredients and nutrients that were toddler-friendly. “Cooking without things like salt and honey goes against your instincts as a professional chef at first,” he says. “I had a lot of fun with seeing how far I could kind of push the bounds of spice. I would like to think [Sophie and I] planted the seeds for more openness to new flavors. A cool part of it was encouraging her to eat it by eating it [myself], too.”

Below, Akin shares some of his most delicious and nutritious baby-food recipes. He adds that, as your baby graduates from purees to “chunky” food, you can adjust the texture of the recipes simply by changing the tools you use (think using a Vitamix versus mashing with a fork). Even better: You can easily multiply quantities to make these recipes in bulk and freeze portions in ice-cube trays.

Spring Mix

1 cup peas (frozen or fresh)
1 cup zucchini, chopped
½ cup blueberries
6 mint leaves

Chop zucchini into fork-sized sections and steam for four minutes. Add peas to steam basket and steam for another four minutes. Add blueberries to steamer for a final minute. Transfer all steam basket contents and mint leaves to a blender and puree until very smooth, adjusting with water for consistency.

Peaches and Cream

1 peach
1 ounce breast milk or formula
3 tablespoons baby whole-grain oats, hydrated
½ cup sweet potato, peeled and diced
Fresh vanilla bean (seeds scraped from ¼ fresh vanilla bean pod)

Hydrate oats according to package. Peel peach and cut into quarters, taking care not to leave any fibrous sections around the pit. Roast the diced sweet potato and peach quarters at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for eight minutes or until sweet potato is tender. Combine oats, peach, sweet potato, and vanilla in a blender and puree until very smooth, adjusting with water for consistency.

Pumpkin Spice

2 cups of butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoon whole-grain barley, hydrated
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Add water to barley and let sit while roasting, boiling, or steaming diced squash until very soft. (If roasting: 325 degrees Fahrenheit for eight minutes or until squash is tender.) Place squash, barley, and spices in a blender and puree until smooth, adjusting with water for consistency.

 

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Fall Orchard Roast

2 ounces ground pork
1 apple, peeled, cored and quartered
1 pear, peeled, cored and quartered
2 figs, trimmed of stems
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon thyme leaves

In a pan over low-medium heat, cook pork fully without browning. Remove from pan onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain fat. In a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven, roast pear, apple, and figs six-to-seven minutes or until soft. Combine cooked pork, roasted fruits, cardamom, and thyme in a blender and puree until very smooth, adjusting with water for consistency.

Banana Pudding

1 banana, split in half lengthwise
½ cup brown rice, cooked until tender
Fresh vanilla bean (seeds scraped from ¼ fresh vanilla bean pod)
½ cup carrot

In a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven, cook carrot for seven minutes. Add banana and cook for another three minutes. Carrot should be very tender, and timing will depend on the size of your dice. Combine cooked carrot and banana with cooked brown rice and vanilla in a blender and puree until smooth.