As a coeliac sufferer, when I had kids it was important to start them on gluten free baby food recipes, just in case they had inherited the condition from me. I made friends with another young mum who lived around the corner, and we met up each week to have a "cook up" for our babies. Over time we amassed a large collection of recipes that our babies enjoyed.
I would like to share those recipes with you now, so you can cook safe, homemade baby food for your little ones.
You may want to replace commercial food completely or just for the occasional meal, especially if the rest of the family is eating something suitable. You can take out a baby sized portion before adding salt or other seasonings.
If you want to avoid buying jars and packets of baby food, you might like to do as we did, and make up quantities of each recipe and freeze the remainder in small pots for future meals.
Your baby does not expect gourmet cooking, and some foods can be served raw. As long as it is the right consistency and temperature, most babies are happy to try anything.
If you need to thicken sauces or stocks you can use baby rice or a gluten free flour such as arrowroot. As a general rule, keep flavourings to a minimum, especially strong ones. Your baby is more likely to try and enjoy bland foods when first starting solid foods. As they begin to accept new ingredients then you can start to add additional flavours.
The first solid foods I offered my babies were bananas and avocado. Mashed with a fork, these were simple to prepare and needed no cooking.
Other fruits may need softening before serving them. These can be mixed with baby rice to make a meal, such as the recipe below.
You can use a microwave to prepare this meal but allow time for cooling to avoid burning baby's mouth.
Core, peel and slice the apple then place it in a small bowl and microwave on high power until soft. It should only take a minute or two.
Once soft, mash with a fork or pop it into a baby food mill or processor.
If you are using ready prepared rice for babies, then make it up as per the packet instructions. If you are using ground rice it will take a little longer.
Put the ground rice and half the milk into a separate bowl and mix to form a paste. Add the remaining milk and microwave on high power for around 4 minutes. I like to check after two minutes, give it a stir, and then stir again after each additional minute until it is smooth and thick.
Mix the mashed apple and jam into the rice, cool and then serve.
This is suitable for babies that have just started solid food, or even for toddlers as a breakfast. For older babies you might not need to mash the apple once it is soft.
You could also substitute cooked pear for the apple to ring the changes and introduce a new flavour.
Place the plum and pear segments in a steamer and cook for 4 minutes, or until they are soft.
Puree, or mash the fruit, until smooth, then add the mashed banana, baby rice and two tablespoons of boiled water, and mix together until smooth.
Please note: This homemade baby food recipe is not suitable for freezing.
NOTE: you can use any fruit providing it can be pureed
Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan, cover and bring to the boil.
Turn down the heat, and cook until tender - about 10-15 minutes.
Puree, in a baby food blender, adding some cooled boiled water if necessary.
This amount will make about 3-4 servings and can be kept in the fridge for up to 48 hours, or it can be frozen until required.
Did you know that coconuts are really a fruit rather than a nut? Even so, if tree nut allergies run in your family be aware that a reaction can still occur, although it is very rare.
The fruit of the coconut palm can be used in various ways in the kitchen, including as a flour that is naturally gluten free, fibre rich and low in carbohydrates.
Peel, core and slice the apple. Place in a small saucepan with the juice and raisins and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes or until the apple is soft.
Take the pan off the stove and stir in the coconut.
Blend, cool and serve. Blend thoroughly for young babies, and for those who are slightly older you can leave a little texture for them to investigate with their tongue.
Older children (and even adults) may also like this without blending.
You don't want baby to only enjoy sweet foods such as fruit, so it's good to introduce vegetables early on as well. So the change isn't drastic you might like to start with naturally sweet flavours such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
These gluten free baby food recipes will make about 3-4 servings and can be kept in the fridge for up to 48 hours or they can be frozen in individual serving quantities until required.
Peel and chop the vegetables into small pieces. Steam or boil until tender, 20-30 minutes should do it.
Place the vegetables in a baby food blender with a little of the cooking water. Blend until the consistency is right for your baby.
Broccoli, although a good source of vitamins, has a strong taste so it is best used in combination with other vegetables in gluten free baby food recipes.
Potato has a mild flavour making it very suitable for young babies. Do not use a food processor to puree it though, or it will just end up as a sticky goo!
Peel and chop the potatoes, thinly slice the leek, and chop the broccoli into florets.
Boil the potatoes until soft in one pan, and the other vegetables in another. Drain, saving some of the cooking water.
Mash the potato or push it through a sieve. Blend the rest of the ingredients in the baby food mill then mix into the potatoes with a little of the cooking liquid until smooth.
Meats, fish and pulses, such as butter beans, can add protein to your gluten free baby food recipes. Start with one ingredient at a time, and don't introduce new foodstuffs for at least 3 days after every introduction. This way you will be able to spot if an ingredient causes any digestion problems.
Once your baby is ready for protein foods, do ensure that poultry and meat is cooked until tender - steaming, slow cooking or stewing is better than grilling, for example.
Steam the fish. Flake and remove the skin and bones.
Boil potatoes, carrots and broccoli
Process all the ingredients to desired consistency, together with the milk, herbs and margarine.
This chicken and vegetable casserole can be served as a puree for very young babies, or you can leave some pieces in it for those that are a little older.
Place the chicken, onion, carrot, and tomato into a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer for around 45 minutes until the chicken is tender.
Meanwhile, cut the potato in half and place in a steamer, along with the broccoli, over a pan of boiling water. Steam for around 20 minutes.
When the chicken is cooked, strain, reserving the stock. Skin the potato and add, with the broccoli to the other ingredients.
For young babies place in a liquidizer and blend until smooth. Add some of the stock to moisten if necessary.
For older babies you can puree the chicken, but just mash the vegetables, leaving some texture for the baby to explore. Cool and serve.
I hope you find these gluten free baby food recipes helpful to get you started. As long as you avoid rusks and other products containing gluten in your babies first foods he or she should stay healthy.