Beet and Sweet Potato Puree
This easy puree does doubles duty, both as an ingredient to spruce up the nutritional profile of plain old pancakes for people of all ages, as well as a nutritious baby food for infants over the age of 6 months. See note below for more on this topic.
Use what you need and freeze the leftovers in an ice cube tray to thaw as needed. If adding to regular breakfast pancakes, try thawing and using 2 oz per batch of batter along with the wet ingredients; no need to modify the recipe otherwise.
If serving as a baby food, you can spoonfeed it directly, or try mixing it in with plain, whole milk yogurt.
Recipe: Beet and Sweet Potato Puree
- 2 medium or 3 small beets (~12oz), cooked*
- 1 medium/large sweet potato/yam (~12 oz), cooked until very soft
- Under running water, peel skins off cooked beets. Chop into large pieces and add to food processor.
- Remove skin from baked sweet potato and scoop out cooked flesh directly into food processor.
- Puree beets and sweet potatoes in the food processor until very smooth and creamy.
* Note: to cook beets, you can either boil them in water or bake them, wrapped in foil, until they are soft enough to easily pierce with a fork. In either case, wash beets first, giving a little scrub to remove surface dirt. Trim the greens off, but leave a little nub of the stem on the beetroot; doing so helps prevent excess bleeding of the pigments. Click here for more details on how to cook beets from my previous post.
A note on Beet-Sweet Potato Puree as Baby Food
Experts recommend waiting until baby is 6 months or older before introducing beets, particularly home-made beets, due to relatively high levels of natural compounds called nitrates. In immature bellies that don’t produce lots of stomach acid (generally under 3 months of age… though babies that age shouldn’t be eating solid foods, anyway), nitrates in food can be converted into compounds called nitrites that can inhibit proper oxygen transport in the body. This can theoretically result in “blue baby syndrome,” a serious condition in which a baby does not get sufficient oxygen. I say theoretically, because this extremely rare condition is generally caused by well water that is high in nitrates, not from high-nitrate veggies like spinach, carrots and beets–particularly when consumed in the miniscule quantities that most infants eat. Nonetheless, if you boil your beets in water rather than baking or roasting them, some nitrates will leach out into the cooking water and lower the nitrate content of the beets themselves.
In babies who are old enough, beets make a wonderful veggie to introduce! Naturally sweet and mild in flavor, they blend beautifully with sweet potato to add some folate (a B-vitamin essential for healthy growth for its role in cell replication) to the meal. When I fed it to my kids, I often mixed it together with plain, whole milk yogurt, and they ate it all up. I called it “baby borscht.”
Admittedly, beets are a very messy food for the younger set, and their faces and fingers are very likely to become stained magenta (photo op!). In addition, it is likely you’ll encounter some magenta pigmentation in the diaper the next day– which is totally normal and totally benign. Just be sure to warn the babysitter the next day so she doesn’t freak out, as mine did, if you feed your baby beets for dinner one night.
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