Oh, baby, baby

2 04 2011

When I was little, I loved food so much that I wore it on my face.

Baby food, that is. Mind you, I was really little.

Actually, that part’s not entirely true. When my little sisters were born and my mom fed them baby food, I always begged for a taste. I was … well, two years old, and then five years old. Don’t judge. That plum stuff is amazing, by the way. Oh, and the carrots.

Anyway, when I was meandering through Sprouts the other day, I was certain I’d find something blogworthy. It is Sprouts, after all. But after a good 20 minutes of searching, I nearly gave up … until I spotted the organic baby-food section.

I had brought my boyfriend along (I’m a codependent shopper), and he protested that blogging on baby food is most definitely cheating. It’s not really food, he said. My argument was that if it’s not really food, what on earth are we feeding to all the babies in the world? Soylent Green?

There was a ton of baby food in those little jars, but what caught my eye were the tubes full of mush. I don’t think I’d ever seen baby food in tubes before. I guess if you’re marketing organic food these days, you have to be a little more creative than just stamping “organic” on your packaging.

There were several to chose from, most of which were fairly normal (bananas, strawberries, carrots…), but I grabbed the most interesting one: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples and blueberries.

Is that even a combination? What are we feeding our children?

Checking out was interesting, as it usually is when I’m standing in line with a single strange food item. The looks I get are usually priceless. And uncomfortable. This time, I also bought a bag of organic cheese puffs for good measure, but I really doubt that helped my case any.

What really didn’t help my case was that I’d brought my poor boyfriend along. The cashier and the bag lady (I probably can’t call her that, can I?) were chatting it up about how my choice of baby food was an interesting one, and the bag lady — or whatever you want to call her — said she feeds it to her nephew all the time. I’m guessing the assumption was that I was buying it for my boyfriend’s and my nonexistent child. I couldn’t decide whether telling them I was going to eat it myself would make the situation any more awkward. Probably.

I stuck it in the refrigerator when I got it home, since the package said it tastes good warm or cold. There was no “lukewarm” option, even though that’s how I always ate my baby food. Maybe this means my parents didn’t really love me. Maybe I had a dysfunctional childhood without even knowing it.

The whole tubelike-package thing proved to be kind of cool. The cap twists off and you can squirt the baby food out, and it’s resealable. I’m guessing the idea is to squirt it into a bowl and then feed it to your baby, but if it were me, I’d go spoonless and just do it bottle-style. It would save on dishes.

Of course, for the purpose of the blog, I wanted to see what it looked like, so I had to put it in a bowl. That may have been a mistake. I’m not sure how to put this delicately, so I’ll just say it: It looked exactly like baby diarrhea.

Maybe the idea was to have it look the same going in as it does coming out so babies don’t have to bother with that pesky little thing called digestion.

Plus, I guess babies don’t care what their food looks like. That’s probably a good thing.

It’s probably also a good thing that they’re generally not picky about smell, because this stuff stank of putrid bananas. Why bananas, you ask? That’s what I was wondering. I was more than a little worried as I brought the spoon up to my mouth.

The first bite was a little shocking. It definitely didn’t taste good. But by the same token, it was more interesting than bad — or maybe it was interesting because it was so terrible, like those B-list horror movies with misspellings on the cover and blood that looks like ketchup. At any rate, one bite wasn’t enough to decide what I thought. So I took another … and another…

Would you believe me if I told you I could taste every fruit mentioned in there? Pumpkins and sweet potatoes … kind of indiscernible, but check. Apples, check. Blueberries, check. This was crazy stuff.

I’m still not sure about that combination of flavors. In fact, if I didn’t focus on trying to pick out a specific flavor, the stuff kind of tasted like rotting bananas. (Again, I have no idea why.) I certainly wouldn’t sit there chowing down on it for lunch. But then again, I’m not a baby.

Maybe babies have underdeveloped taste buds, or maybe they just don’t care, kind of like dogs. Whatever the case, this stuff is definitely all-natural, and it’s really good for you. Er, for babies. And if you can muscle past the initial gag reflex and focus on how good it is for you, it’s not actually half bad.

I’m not saying I’m going to finish the stuff, because I’m not. I maintain that sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples and blueberries should not go together in any context, kind of like blue and orange. But if I ever have a baby (someday far, far down the road) and I need to buy baby food, this stuff’s chock-full of healthiness. I just won’t be partaking in the meal. Not this time.


Ingredients: Organic fruit and vegetable puree (apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, blueberries) and organic lemon juice.
Price: $1.49 at Sprouts
Pros: Healthy. Like, really healthy. It’s like putting a bunch of random healthy food in the blender and feeding it to your baby. It’s also much better for babies than Clamato juice.
Cons: It’s for babies. You and your more-sensitive taste buds probably don’t want to eat it.


When vegetables get creative

28 08 2010

Veggie chips aren’t weird.

Everyone eats veggie chips.  I mean, honestly, potatoes are vegetables.  Those Ruffles in my pantry?  Perfectly normal.

The chip aisle was the last place I expected to find anything out of the ordinary, but as my eyes skimmed over the variations of barbecue, onion, vinegar, and sour cream (not necessarily combined), something pink caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks.

That’s a chip?

“Exotic vegetable chips,” the package read.  I snatched up the bag and stared at the picture on the front.  Vibrant pink circles of crispiness, and…was that a mangled onion?  They had the “exotic” part right; the “vegetable” part I wasn’t so sure about.  This, I had to try.

The back of the bag gave a helpful breakdown of each chip:

Taro (also known as malanga and dasheen) is apparently a tuber indigenous to India and Asia.  (Essentially, it’s a culturally aware potato.)  This was the white chip which gave me the first impression of being a mutilated onion.  Its flavor wasn’t bad at all — actually, it reminded me of a less-salty, slightly sweet potato chip.  I could probably eat a whole bag of these.  In fact, I actually could, because Terra (the chips’ brand) apparently liked this particular chip so much that they devoted an entire product to it.

Yuca, also known as cassava, is described as a “woody shrub” and also a “starchy tuber,” neither of which sounded particularly appealing to me.  Ironically, my thought process upon eating one of these chips went something like this: “Salt!  Salty…bark.  And now it’s just bark.  Crunchy.”  Yuca definitely has a strange texture in chip form.  I’d take taro chips over yuca chips any day.

Sweet potato sounded like the most normal chip out of the bunch.  After all, who doesn’t love sweet potato pie?  It’s also a name I can pronounce correctly, which is a nice bonus.  This orangey root (because yes, sweet potatoes are roots) makes a pretty good chip, I have to say.  It definitely had a strong sweet flavor, and its aftertaste was even sweeter.  This particular brand might have benefitted from more salt, but overall, it was a solid chip (figuratively speaking — and I suppose literally, too).

Ruby root vegetables are described on the back of the package as “perhaps the most dramatic.”  The bag didn’t specify what root vegetables were used in these, but it did inform me that they were “kissed with beet juice,” which accounts for that eye-catching red (hot pink on the package) and also has me wondering how exactly a beet kisses a chip.  But I digress.  Flavor-wise, these were sweet at first and nutty (and slightly bitter) after crunching them for a few seconds.  They had a strange tendency to disintegrate into a sort of juice form, which was when they turned nutty and more bitter.  Strange and interesting, but definitely not my favorite.

Batata is just another word for potato, but these have been “savored in the Carribean for centuries,” according to the package.  (Here we go again, putting the “exotic” in exotic veggie chips.)  These looked like potato chips, and tasted the most like them out of all the chips in the bag, but they were definitely sweeter and less salty.  (Harder and crunchier, too.)  I felt like they were a little tainted by some of the stronger flavors in the same bag, but overall they tasted fairly “normal.”

Parsnip does not sound edible.  In fact, it sounds like something I do when I’m cutting my hair.  But apparently, it’s just a stronger-tasting version of the carrot — Carrot 2.0, I guess.  Carrot chips sound weird, but parsnip chips are pretty tasty.  The flavor doesn’t kick in at first, but when it does, it’s an explosion of nuttiness.  Eating these made me want to try an actual parsnip, just out of curiosity.

So there you have it: vegetable medley, gourmet chip style.  While I’m more of a regular-potato-chip junkie kind of person, these chips are a good alternative if you’re looking for something a little less salty and greasy.  They have a lot to offer in the flavor department, from bitter to nutty to sweet.  As an added bonus, Terra has an extensive list of related recipes on their website, which would probably make these chips even tastier.  The shrimp salsa and the blissful bruschetta sound especially good (though maybe I just have an abundant affection for alliterations), and seeing as I have half a bag of chips left, I just might try this whole cooking thing.


Ingredients: A seasonal mix of root vegetables (sweet potato, parsnip, batata, taro, yuca), canola oil and/or safflower oil and/or sunflower oil, beet juice concentrate (for color), salt.
$5.19 at Fry’s Marketplace
Pros: Interesting variety of flavors, healthier alternative to “normal” potato chips.
Cons: The chips come in an assortment, so the flavors are less distinct.  The bag I got also came with a largely disproportionate amount of red root vegetable chips (which happened to be my least favorite), but that could just be my luck.

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