Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cooking Kale for Kids - Homemade Baby Food Tutorial

Having a baby changes the way you look at things. For me, this meant I wanted to make my own baby food.

Kale for Kids by SweeterThanSweets

Kale is one of those foods that I had never cooked before Little Sweets came along. I didn't know how to buy it or what to do with it. But with the help of the Super Baby Food book by Ruth Yaron (see my post with a fruity recipe from the book here), I learned about the health benefits of kale and how to cook it.

{A disclaimer if you're a first-time visitor to my blog: I have never dedicated a whole post to a leafy green vegetable before. Also, I apologize in advance for the pictures that I take in my kitchen. I have one tiny window and not enough natural light to work with.}

So why kale? It is one of the healthiest vegetables you or your baby can eat. Check out the Vitamins section of this chart. Each cup of kale provides you with tons of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. (Here's another resource with charts that might sell you on kale.)

Kale Onesie by swordfishscreenprint on Etsy
Kale Onesie by swordfishscreenprint

You can steam, puree and freeze kale into ice cube trays and then sneak those frozen cubes into oatmeal, soups, pasta sauces or whatever else you can get away with.

**Babies need to be at least 9 months old before you feed them kale.**

What you need to cook, puree and freeze kale:

Kale for Kids by SweeterThanSweets

food processor (please use a bigger one than this if you're doing a large batch)
pot with steamer basket/insert
ice cube trays
heavy-duty freezer zip-top bags

I bought a 2-pound bag of kale. The bagged kale is prewashed, trimmed and cut already, which saves a lot of time. If you buy loose kale instead (which is recommended in Super Baby Food), swish the leaves around in a sink full of water several times to make sure all the sand has been freed. Then trim it by pulling the leaves off the stems (throw stems away). Then chop it into small pieces. Or you could buy the bagged prewashed, pretrimmed, precut kale.

It took me 1 hour to do this entire process (would've been faster with a bigger food processor). I got 28 ice cubes from this 2-pound bag of kale, which was 28 cups of kale. So when I cook with it, I know that 1 ice cube = 1 cup of raw kale.

Put an inch or so of water into your pot and bring to a boil. Then fill the basket up with kale and cover; cook for 3-5 minutes. I fit about 1/2 pound of the kale at a time in my steamer basket.

Kale for Kids by SweeterThanSweets

Here's what it looked like when it was done cooking. The kale will reduce in size by about half when cooked:

Kale for Kids by SweeterThanSweets

Put some of your cooked kale into your food processor and squeeze out some excess water by pressing down on it with a few paper towels. Then process until the kale is pureed into what looks like tiny flakes. You want the flakes to be pretty small so they're less noticeable when you mix the kale into your food:

Kale for Kids by SweeterThanSweets

Using my tiny 3-cup food processor, I had to do 7 rounds of pureeing for this 2-pound bag of kale. Immediately after I finished cooking the kale for this tutorial, I bought a new 12-cup food processor. It will be much easier/faster next time!
Now squeeze your kale flakes into the ice cube trays. Pack it in tightly so it will stick together when you pop the ice cubes out. I soaked up a bit more water by pushing down on each cube with another paper towel.

Repeat the cook/puree/squeeze process with the rest of the kale. Like I said, I ended up with 28 ice cube-sized portions of kale. The 2-pound bag held 28 cups of kale, so 1 ice cube = 1 cup of raw kale. Somehow it ended up perfectly proportioned, but this is not a science so you may end up with more or less than I did.

Kale for Kids by SweeterThanSweets

Put your trays into a freezer-safe zip-top bag and freeze for a day or so. Then pop the "kale cubes" out and put them back into the freezer bag.

Kale for Kids by SweeterThanSweets

Frozen kale cubes will last in your freezer for awhile. Super Baby Food says they'll keep 2 months but this website says they'll last 10-12 months. Would you think I'm a bad mom if I told you I've been feeding Little Sweets frozen kale from 11 months ago? She hasn't gotten sick, but maybe some of the health benefits have deteriorated a bit.

Check out my recipe for Little Sweets' Favorite Oatmeal with Kale... but don't tell her what those green flecks are.

Oatmeal with Kale by Tricia @ SweeterThanSweets


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I am pregnant with my first and plan to make my own baby food so this idea helps alot. :)

  2. Great post! I made some of my son's baby food, but am planning to make all of my second kiddo's food. Thanks for the tips!

  3. I love kale! No kids yet, but I'm bookmarking this for the future.

  4. I can't believe this is for kids, I want one! No kids yet, not yet a wife, but this sounds great for self indulging time. i found you via EDT. happy tuesday!


  5. Stopping by from "Made by you Mondays".....we ♥ kale around here! =) Also wanted to invite you to link up every Monday throughtout the Summer for a "Fun in the Summer Sun" featuring diff. kid-friendly topics each week....each Monday has a diff. theme....stop by and check it out! ;) I'd love to see what you link up!

    Blessings to you,
    Jill @ Sweet Diva

  6. Interesting tutorial! The ice cube idea is very creative.

  7. I would love for you to link it up to my party that is running now. Any linky goes.


    Come strut your stuff.

  8. Thanks all, for checking out such an odd blog post. =) This technique is very typical of the Super Baby Food book. Your freezers will be full of rainbow-colored cubes if you use that book!

  9. You can actually cook the kale stems and eat them similar to asparagus. Salted water is good for soaking/swishing the whole leaves b/c the salt water kills any "creepy crawlies" that might be hiding on the leaves. :-)

  10. My little brother is quite a few years younger than me, and I remember my mom doing this for him... with peas and carrots! I'll have to try this with kale (to make your oatmeal, of course!)

    -caroline @ c.w.frosting

  11. I have lots of fresh kale in my garden and have been wondering what to do with it. Thanks for sharing this idea. And don't worry about the quality of your pics, I'm in the same boat as you are with the one tiny window and not a lot of natural light :) hasn't stopped me yet. Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful weel!

  12. Mm, sounds like something the little one would love to try! :) Let me know how it goes, please!

    International Calls to Australia

  13. Thank you - this is just what I needed this morning when I searched for "how to hide kale in children's food"!

  14. Can you tell me why babies have to wait until 9 months to eat kale? I keep seeing this on many different sites with no explanation and a google search doesnt turn up much. Thanks.

    1. The nitrates in Kale can be dangerous for younger babies.

  15. If it's about nitrates, they can have it after 6 months. At that point, they can process the nitrates in food (though well water with too much nitrates is still hazardous).

  16. Wow ! This is simply awesome. I mean kale ice cubes. I have never heard of this. I know kale is really good for health. I am really grateful to you for sharing this one. Keep posting more, Heather.
    Meanwhile, read my blog on what to eat while you're pregnant: http://compoundwisdom.com/15-superfoods-eat-pregnant/

  17. Superb post, you have indicated out some excellent factors, I too believe this kind of is a very excellent website. Would like to see some other posts on the same subject! click here


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