30 August 2012

Baby Bites: Roasted Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Navy Beans

I couldn't help but take a few bites myself.

Ahhhhhhh, the sweet potato. I'm a fan of anything potato, but eating sweet potatoes is like getting dessert in the middle of your meal. Baby Nerd has loved every jar of sweet potatoes she's tried, so I figured I would give it a go. In fact, the inspiration for this recipe comes from the pouches of organic baby food created by Tyler Florence. We gave them a try when they went on sale one week at Publix. One of the pouches contained sweet potatoes and white beans, which I knew couldn't be that hard to make. Below is the recipe I came up with for Baby Nerd.

  • one large sweet potato
  • two small cloves of garlic, tops cut off
  • roughly 1/3 cup of dried navy beans, soaked in water overnight
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth cut with water (broth is optional; can make this with just water)
  • extra cup of water
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • roughly 1 tsp cinnamon
  • freshly ground nutmeg (I eyeballed this amount since I grated it over the potato once cooked)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash and scrub the sweet potato. (Do not remove skin because you will be roasting it.) Poke holes in the potato with a fork and microwave it for 4-5 minutes, or enough to start softening it. Meanwhile, boil the watered-down broth on the stove and add the navy beans once it reaches a boil. Reduce heat and allow the beans to cook while you complete the next step.

Take the sweet potato out of the microwave and wrap it in aluminum foil. Do the same with the garlic cloves, but drizzle them with olive oil before wrapping them up. Place both in your oven and allow to roast for 20-30 minutes. (While they roast, check on the progress of your navy beans.) The potato will come out very soft, and the garlic will have turned a golden brown. Allow your garlic cloves to cool enough to squeeze them out of their skins. Mash the cloves with a fork to make a "paste". Cut a long slit down the side of the sweet potato and scrape out the flesh. When the navy beans have reached the soft-enough-for-baby-to-eat stage, add the sweet potato and garlic paste to the pot WITHOUT draining the broth and mash it all together. Add in the spices and stir until everything is mixed evenly. If the potatoes are looking dry, add the water you put to the side to moisten them. These can be stored in the fridge up to one week and in the freezer up to 3 months. These should definitely be served warm, but be careful during reheating: the beans will hold the heat longer than the sweet potatoes. Make sure to test how hot the beans are before serving them to your baby.
Baby Nerd enjoyed this for dinner earlier this evening, although we butted heads when she refused to take them from the spoon and preferred using her fingers. Oh, the amount of orange that girl had on her face! But hey, it's one of very few battles we have, and the meal only cost what we paid for the sweet potato and bag of dried beans--we already had everything else.

One more note: I used dried beans (soaked overnight, remember!) because canned beans are more expensive per ounce and they are much more likely to have added sodium. You could leave them out altogether (along with most of the spices and the garlic) if you want to introduce just the sweet potato as a first food. I like the combination of beans with potato because it gives your baby a more "complete" meal by providing a carbohydrate and a protein. Plus, the combo introduces a new food texture.

Happy eating!

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