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East County Thursday, May 7, 2009 11 years ago

New mom purees way to healthier baby food

by: Pam McTeer

EAST COUNTY — Heather Richmond settles on the floor beside her 9-month-old son, Kal, who is playing contently in an ExerSaucer.

From her bag, she pulls out two jars of baby food, opens the lids and buries a spoon in each before bringing it to Kal’s wide-open mouth.

There are no added preservatives in these jars of baby food — only yogurt and oatmeal blended in one and a combination of carrots and other fruits and vegetables in the other. Kal loves the taste and Richmond couldn’t be happier with the results.

By making her own baby food at home, Richmond not only is able to better control what Kal is eating, but also she’s saving money on the grocery bill, too.

“I didn’t realize it could be so easy,” said Richmond, a registered dietician.

And after sharing her new insights with other new moms at her church, Sarasota Baptist, Richmond is ready to launch a new class for mothers who want to make their own baby food and learn about nutrition and other related topics.

The first Beginner Bellies class will be held at 7 p.m., May 12, at Fresh Market, 5251 University Parkway, Sarasota. Attendees will learn about nutrition for babies, how to make homemade baby food and how to incorporate puree into their family’s meals and snacks, among other topics.

“My goal is to have (people) see how easy it is to eat a quick and wholesome meals as a family,” Richmond said. “(The class is) really catered to what they want (to learn).”
Mothers are welcome to bring their children and can taste-test any of the baby food combinations made during class.

Quest turned business
Even after Kal was born, Richmond was working full time as a clinical dietician. But as juggling work with other responsibilities became more difficult, Richmond and her husband, Jordan, decided Heather should stay home with Kal. The family would have to make adjustments, among them cutting costs as much as possible, to do so.

In hopes of saving money on the grocery bill, Heather Richmond began searching for information on how to make her own baby food, but every article she found made the process too complicated.

Heather Richmond was determined to make it work, and by the time a wave of new babies hit Sarasota Baptist several months later, she had discovered how to make the process simple. Many of the new mothers began asking what she, as a dietician, fed her young son, and Heather Richmond saw an opportunity to help moms while helping support her family financially.

“Making baby food is kind of where it started,” Heather Richmond said.

Heather Richmond’s voluntary baby food-making sessions with women from the church taught her that mothers were riddled with nutrition questions and also enjoyed simply being together. The feedback they provided helped Heather Richmond develop the curriculum she offers in her class, which will be provided at both a commercial and at-home setting.

Although Richmond shows moms some potential combinations for foods, including a spinach and blueberry jelly, she sticks to the dos and don’ts rather than specific measurements.

“I try not to get in to recipes,” she said. “I want to let (mothers) make their own combinations. The variety is endless when you are making your own.”

Each Beginner Bellies class lasts about one-and-one-half hours. Heather Richmond said the class at Fresh Market will not be quite as extensive as later classes, which will be held in her future Lakewood Ranch home.

Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].

By the numbers
How much money could you save making your own baby food? That depends on how much you use of each fruit or vegetable. Take a banana, for example. Leading baby food producers cost $.23 per ounce compared to $.01 per ounce homemade. If a baby ate four ounces of bananas each day, that would be a savings of more than $25 each month.

Beginner Bellies
WHEN: 7 p.m., May 12
WHERE: Fresh Market, 5251 University Parkway
COST: $10
UPCOMING: Semimonthly classes will be held at 7 p.m., every first and third Thursday in June. Cost will be $15. The location is to be announced.

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