Baby, Recipe

first spinach with white yams

I was really eager to get into greens because, lordy, I love (well, most) greens when they’re done right — creamed spinach, heck even creamed chard, gratins and pasta dishes. Basically, “done right” in my book equals “coated with sauce and/or cheese but probably both”, which is exactly why I was pretty stumped as to how I was going to make spinach — straight pureed spinach, I mean doesn’t that sound terrible? — appealing, and not a drab, pesto-ish mush. Wow, I’m really whipping out all of the sexy food words today, aren’t I?

cooked spinach

It didn’t help that I’d been strict about only introducing one new food at at time (so we could easily trace any food issues back to what was new) and at that point, we’d only introduced the “orange” vegetables, carrots and yams. This left little in the way of ingredients that would make straight spinach an easier sell. Fortunately, just as I was wringing my hands about this, spinach came into season in New York and I bought some from the Greenmarket.

[I’ve got no qualms about using good frozen spinach down the road, especially when we’re making real dishes with it and bigger volumes of them, but when you’re trying to sell a kid on unseasoned purees, I figured it helped to start with the most ideal specimen.]

a white yam

It was at the market that I also spied a white yam and really, there’s no reason to go out an hunt down one of these, but I grabbed it purely for aesthetics. I knew the baby already loved yams (seriously, what baby does not?) but was shuddering imagining how orange yams pureed with spinach would look. Against a white yam, however, it was actually silky and a gorgeous green, but tasted familiar and a little sweet. Most importantly, it worked. I was shocked, but there he was, slurping down mushy spinach purée like it was the best thing since frozen peaches. I know I’m horribly biased, but man, this kid is awesome.

behold the blazing green cubes

P.S. Thank you for your sweet, sweet encouragement after the last post. Unfortunately, while I’m past the doubt, time constraints are making it hard to keep this site up to date. I’ll get through the backlog though — mangoes! spices! chicken! — just one recipe at a time.

First Spinach with White Yams

1/2 pound fresh spinach, stemmed and washed but no need to dry it
A half-pound yam, white if you can find it, peeled and cut into a 1/2 to 3/4-inch dice
1 1/2 cups water or sodium-free vegetable stock

In a large pot, bring the yams to boil about 1 1/2 cups of water or stock. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the yams for about 10 minutes. Add the spinach and cook it until both the yams and spinach are very tender. Let the mixture cool and purée it in a food processor or blender.

This made about 3 to 4 cups of purée. You can read more over here about how I process and store baby food.

48 comments on first spinach with white yams

  1. KitKat

    ms. deb, i don’t know how you do it. i love everything you post! in the few months i’ve had you bookmarked (the non-baby site), i’ve made a recipe a week and not one a disappointment. i’m having my third baby in 6 weeks and i feel confident that i’ll have a smitten kitchen-fed baby six months later with an arsenal of great recipes. thank you so much for having great taste buds, phenomenal writing talent and photography skills too. and that baby of yours is too much cuteness.

  2. Robyn

    Take your time! The last thing your readers want is for this site to become a burden. We thoroughly enjoy each post as it comes. Thanks again!

  3. Amy

    Keep the recipes coming, Deb! Little Owen and I love them!

    Do you know an easy frozen to fresh spinach conversion? Would you use defrosted water from the frozen spinach to boil the veggies?

  4. Jen

    I have to say I am completely envious. My little munchkin so far has turned up her nose at anything other than yogurt. Occasionally she’ll lower herself to eat something but then next time I go to give it to her…she won’t touch it. However *I* adored the applesauce recipe:)

  5. Anne

    Yay! I’m excited to see the chicken recipe(s). I threw in the towel on meat, kept forgetting to save small uncooked portions before I made our meals … decided to buy the Mother Hen frozen meat. Love the Jacob photos, he’s adorable!

  6. sara

    Deb. I just bought organic frozen spinach today. I know frozen spinach tastes different. Would you use the same method?

    1. deb

      sara — I’d try it. Mostly, to me, it tastes less grassy-fresh green but it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. See if the babe likes it. I am also working on a creamed spinach recipe from frozen spinach. My first attempt caused the baby’s face to curl up as if to say “Why, mama? Why would you feed me this?”. I’ll try again soon. :)

  7. Laura

    Have been following you for a while and JUST found the baby food part. Woohoo!!! We started baby #2 on ‘solids’ a week ago and I had been searching for some good baby food recipes (again) and with your track record thus far with your AWESOME recipes I am nothing less than totally stoaked to try these out (especially b/c I think #2 is picky…argh). Thanks for doing some of my homework for me. Your babe’s a doll.

  8. bean

    LOVE everything you do.
    Honestly, I love following both websites. i have an 8 mo old who is enjoying her homemade purees. You think these recipes are too simple, but thats exactly what moms need! Thanks! keep up the good work!

  9. Terri

    I love that you are doing this without using formula to thin like so many recipes. Since formula is only “good” for 24 hours, the freezing and unfreezing process would technically render most purees void. You can always use the formula to thin the food if your kid isn’t up to the thicker puree as you are getting ready to feed them.

    My second will be up for your recipes in about 4 months, so am appreciating seeing things I didn’t try the first time around. I’d love to see if yours continues to like veggies once they aren’t pureed, as mine won’t touch one now.

  10. i love all of your recipes and descriptions! recently found your baby recipes and am excited to try them on our little one, coming soon. thank you so much!!!

  11. Slipping (or in this case spiking) a new food with an unfamiliar one is actually how I got one of my friends to eat the same lasagna as the rest of us. I took the spinach and cooked it down in the sauce and sauteed the mushrooms and then pureed them and added them to the sauce. He couldn’t even tell it was in there.

    Of course, now I need to go and check out your cakes, because I want to make another one (I’ve made 3 or 4 of them, and every one of them was a knockout).

  12. Amie


    can’t wait for owen to be able to try this. like you, i love green veggies and hope he will too! please keep the recipes coming if you can.

  13. Erin

    YUM! My daughter literally can’t lap up your recipes any quicker! THANK YOU!
    Quick question – how did you do your yams? I’ve read a lot of conflicting things about preparing them (don’t puree, must puree, only use a ricer, etc) and am stuck at what to do!
    Thanks for posting this recipe…can’t wait to introduce ‘greens’ too and spinach is one of my ultimate favorite yummies!

    1. deb

      Erin — I, uh, just simmered them in water. Not so exciting but he loved them. I bought them at the market so I was hoping they had enough flavor as they were.

  14. Claire

    I’ve been reading your original blog for a while, and this blog is perfect timing for me! My second child is 8 months old, and she had been getting the 2nd kid shaft, getting all of her food from jars. I’ve vowed to do better now, and your recipes are a great help. I’m sure its hard to keep up with both, but a new recipe every once in while is greatly appreciated! I’d also love some creative ideas for finger foods since its nice for my daughter to work on feeding herself.

  15. Melanie

    Thank you for the baby recipes! They couldn’t come at a better time – I just found out I’m expecting, and although it’s a little way off for me yet, when the time comes, I’m definitely interested in making my own baby food, so your tutorials are perfect for me. I hope the baby enjoys his SK as much as I love mine. Thanks again! Oh, and if my baby is half as cute as Jacob, I’m going to have to eat him too!

  16. Hey Deb,

    Another word of encouragement: I don’t have kids, and I pore over these recipes like crazy. When I do have kids, I will use these recipes joyfully. As it is, I’m jazzed to see the “meatier” recipes show up so I can try them on my nieces (1 year and 1.5 years). Don’t stop, Deb!

  17. Anna

    When I was making my son baby food I did a puree of spinach and roasted garlic and would mix it with a bit of greek yogurt.He absolutely loved it! It’s amazing what adventurous palates babies have. When ds got older though, he became somewhat pickier, though he still is a pretty good eater.

  18. Gail

    Hooray! I am so happy you have started this baby-Smitten site over here. I was one of the commenters from your other site asking for this…! Your pictures are gorgeous, as is that baby of yours, and I now stop at your site *before* epicurious when I’m hunting for a recipe at 5 pm. I have 4 kids under 8, including a 5 month old, and I love cooking (especially baking) and eating; I am almost a vegetarian, could never be a vegan (butter! cheese!). My go-to dessert is a pie, since crusts haven’t frightened me the way they have other people, but I am so intrigued by this category of a homey little breakfasty cake that you make so often. I associate cakes with sort of showy celebrations, but these cakes, these cakes… hmmm. They are homey and full of love in the same way I think a pie is, which is why I make so many pies. I am going to make a cake from your site RIGHT NOW. :) Thanks for starting the smitten baby site.

  19. pam

    Oh, this makes me so sad that your baby is so much younger than my boys! Maybe I would have actually made their food had this been around when they were eating purees. (I know, for shame.) Guess I’ll just have to have another one. ;)

  20. Janel

    Hi! My sister Robin (caviarandcodfish) recommended your new site to me and THANK YOU! I’ve been wanting to make some veggie dishes for my little baby girl and was also intimidated by the thought of pureed straight spinach (ICK!) I’ll add yams and veggie broth – sounds a little more appetizing.

    Bring on the chicken recipes! I could use some new ideas :)

  21. indygirl

    THANK YOU for sharing baby food recipes!! i’ve been hoping you would. : )
    our 7-mo baby girl is only tolerating a taste of this and taste of that…even when it is all lovingly made by hand (love my mother-in-law’s gift of the beaba cooker!). i will be following your innovative ideas and also trying my own. for now, i guess nothing compares to momma’s milk.

  22. This sounds like a great way to introduce spinach. I was just wondering how I would make it palatable; I have a hard time offering my little guy foods that I don’t want to put in my own mouth. I love spinach but some of the totally unseasoned recipes for babies are just sooo bland. I have never seen a white yam but I think I’ll try blending it with some parsnips I have.

    Anna’s idea of mixing the spinach with roasted garlic and swirling it into Greek yogurt sounds fabulous too; I bet it would make a great dip for little cracker or bread bits.

  23. TJ

    Hi Deb,

    I think what Erin was getting at are all of the caveats out there around potatoes and food processors. I’ve read in various places that potatoes turn glue-like (because of the starch) when pureed in the food processor. Doesn’t sound like you had that problem, but are you blending them on a low setting? Or perhaps the spinach provided enough water to help combat the starch?

    1. deb

      Erin, TJ — Aah. Yes, I’ve definitely read that you don’t want to, say, purée mashed potatoes in a food processor because it will get gluey as they are mostly water. I think I was able to sidestep this because there was additional water and another vegetable; they didn’t seem thick or gloppy. Of course, I’m no Harold McGee; I can’t tell you why it worked, only that it did. :)

  24. Thank you so much for these posts!! My little guy hasn’t been eating too much either and the spices and additions to these foods sound very exciting! I am so inspired! I am going to make all of these recipes! Thank you so much! You little man is so precious!

  25. TJ

    Thanks, Deb – I’m excited to try this one – I’m optimistic that gluey-ness will not be an issue. My little one is currently on peaches and your recipe – I believe it’s the nutmeg that elevates it out of the realm of “regular” baby food – is a big hit. You’ve inspired me to add nutmeg to her rice cereal and cinnamon to her oatmeal, both with great success.

  26. Beth

    I don’t know if your son is old enough to eat dairy, but when he is, try mixing pureed spinach with whole milk yogurt. My little ones absolutely loved it, and it’s sort of like an easy version of creamed spinach (to a baby at least). Actually, I would mix anything into the yogurt – I figured it was better than buying the YoBaby stuff that has added sugar, and the babies didn’t know what they were missing.

  27. Audra

    I just can’t tell you how excited I am that you are putting these recipes up. I just started my 6 month old on a few solids and I can’t wait to try some of your combinations. I’m sure you hear this all the time but I’m in love with your blog; it’s pretty much become a recipe book for me… and now this!

  28. Erin

    TJ, you were right! I tried Deb’s method though and it worked famously!!! My daughter LOVES sweet potatos and I actually added a smidgen cinnamon to them as well. Just can’t get enough! Can’t wait to read more!

  29. Rosa

    This is amazing…and it seems like a fun and gratifying procees….Have you ever tryed pureeing brussel sprouts? Since this is one of the foods children tend to hate to eat in there ages 5 and above?
    I am working on getting pregnant and preping for it.
    By the way I made the oatmeal cookies and the were “FREAKIN GOOD” excellent!

  30. Raffaella

    Hey Deb, love your website! I’m a new mommy to be and i cant wait to try these recipes out on my little one, just wondering though, you said to puree all together afer they cooked. Do you drain the veggies before you puree-isn’t that too much liquid? or does some of it boil down and the water adds the right consistency? I’m studying up on your recipes-can’t wait till i actually need them :)

    1. deb

      Raffaella — I puree them with the liquid and try to provide an amount of liquid in these recipes that the puree shouldn’t be too thin or thick. If you’re nervous it might be too thin, hold some liquid back and add it only if you need it. Sorry for the delayed response!

  31. Terry

    Okay so I’ve finally tried a version of this recipe with my little one. I couldn’t find a white yam at my local farmer’s market to save my life and I was desperately looking for a “green” that my baby wouldn’t spit back at me!!!!!! I substituted the yam with a few frozen of cubes of Deb’s recipe for pears(which he loves!!!) and it was a great success!!! Thanks Deb!!!!!!!!!

  32. Megan

    I made this basic recipe with Swiss Chard and new potatoes from the farmer’s market last week. Eva (7 months) loved it and it was so easy.

  33. Molly

    Thank you! You got a round of applause from baby Grant! He couldn’t get enough of this stuff. I made a large batch, froze most of it and saved what I thought would last two meals. Was I ever wrong! It was gone in one quick serving! You’ve made the adults happy in my house for a long time and now you are pleasing the babies! Thank you!!!

  34. Jami

    Yeah, Deb, keep going with this site, please! I LOVE Smitten Kitchen and go to it for recipes or just fun reading at least a few times a week, can’t wait for your cookbook and am about to make your best birthday cake (thank god you did your freak out pre-baby so we can all have a much less minor one about this) for my son’s 2nd birthday. He will love it. Except I’m trying to decide on an alternate frosting recipe b/c we live in Brazil and have NO SOUR CREAM! Can you believe that? AND, I’m about to have baby number two, so when I finally clicked over here today, it made actually excited to start making baby food again. And that is major!

  35. I’m so excited you’ve started a baby food section! Please keep the recipes coming. Our little E is going to be six months old next month, and I’m already thinking I should be stocking our freezer in preparation. All of the recipes you’ve listed so far look simple and good. Really good, as if I didn’t already know whatever you’d be posting would be delicious. :)

  36. So I just found these recipes, which is fortuitous since I’ve got a five month old I’m going to be feeding here before too long. We actually tried rice cereal last week, but I decided he’s just not ready. And the idea of actual tasty veggies is much more appealing to ME than the rather tasteless rice cereal we had before. I’ve ordered some of those ice cube trays, which look perfect, and am getting much more excited about what I’m going to be able to feed him when we do try food again. We’ll probably go pick fresh apples soon and maybe I’ll start with the applesauce. And that vanilla pear sauce looks awesome, too. In fact, I’ve got lots of friend who are currently begging me to take some pears off their over-loaded trees, so maybe I can go ahead and make some up and freeze it while they’re free. I’ll be looking back at these recipes lots in the days to come.

    And as an aside, my husband just made some of your meatballs from your meatball sliders recipe. They were awesome!

  37. Samantha

    Do you think this could be done with kale instead of spinach? I have a ton of kale in my garden and I need to find ways to use it. My son’s only 3 months, but having some food prepared before he needs it would be super nice.

  38. Harmony

    For those interested, I just made this dish using frozen spinach and orange sweet potato. I used a little less water for the boiling process and then just didn’t add all of the water to the puree and it turned out great. Rather than getting a funky color, it just got a deeper green (think kale-ish). Tasted great to me and baby boy, the little man loved it! Thanks so much for all your recipes, Deb!

  39. Mindy

    I was half expecting my little guy to spit this back out at me (must be that I’m used to my 3 yr old’s green veggie aversion) but he loved it! I couldn’t find a white yam so I used a sweet potato. I’ve been pretty lazy with making my own baby food with kid #2 but these recipes have give me back the motivation to bring out the blender. Thank you Deb!

  40. I know I’m a bit late on the uptake here, but my little Clara has just started eating baby food, and I am trying my hand at making it! I adore these recipes and can’t wait to try them! I know how crazy life gets with a baby, so thank you for taking the time to post these!

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