Organic baby recipes from Sophie Baron, founder of Mamamade
Founded by Sophie Baron, Mamamade is changing the face of baby food. Baron, a former US Vogue contributor, started the business out of her NW London kitchen after she was unable to find healthy and fresh options for her daughter Liba. Made from unprocessed, unrefined combinations of real ingredients cut perfectly for little fingers to handle, Mamamade’s pouches are flash-frozen to seal in peak nutrition and flavour. Absolutely Mama caught up with Sophie to find more. Read on for our interview and for three easy organic baby recipes.
Q How did you come to set up Mamamade?
A I started developing what is now Mamamade when my daughter was about 7 months old. I knew how I wanted to feed her – I wanted everything to be organic, everything plant-based, everything home-cooked, so I could be sure of what she was eating – but I really struggled to manage providing high-quality meals with the pace of weaning (and life with a baby in general).
There were literally weeks on end when Liba would only have sweet potato, banana and avocado on rotation because I couldn’t cope with preparing or cooking anything else – and batch pureeing didn’t help as she very quickly wanted texture. I couldn’t believe that other than cooking it all myself, the only option available to me was offering the long-life, heat-processed pouches on the shelf. They were overly smooth, very watery, really sweet, and tasted nothing like real food… I felt horrible each time I gave her one.
I was sure there had to be a different way to feed babies and to support parents like me with products that were healthy, flavourful, but that would also be flexible enough to grow as my daughter did. Mamamade is designed to put parents in the best possible position to raise their little ones the way that they want to, and it’s been so exciting to see parents with babies of all ages – from 6 months all the way to 24+ months – enjoying these meals.
Q How do you come up with the flavour combinations and how are the organic baby recipes made?
A When I first started working on Mamamade, I really wanted to think in terms of being ‘flavour-led’. I did a lot of research on the subject of introducing solids and everything I read talked about this flavour window, during which babies are more receptible to new tastes. There’s a lot of talk in the weaning space about introducing bitter veg to babies first – how baby’s first food should be kale or broccoli – but actually the evidence isn’t actually so clear-cut on this being necessary in order to raise a good eater. What is clear is that babies should get a wide variety of flavours and foods – this is the best way to ensure they get all the vitamins and nutrients they need.
And part of the weaning process is teaching your baby that food is a positive thing, that sitting around the table is a positive thing. We want the babies eating Mamamade to learn that eating is enjoyable – that is why we always put taste and flavour at the forefront. So when we develop new mixes, we always think in terms of variety – can we ensure we are getting all the different food groups in? But we also want the mix to tickle taste buds – so we ask ourselves, what is that little flavour surprise we can add in on top? We use spices and aromatics that are tasty but easy on baby’s tummy – like rosemary, cumin, garlic, turmeric – because they not only have nutritional and health benefits, but they make food taste good!
There’s only one thing healthier than kale and that’s having a positive relationship with food. We believe that should be the main objective with weaning, and our flavour-led mixes help parents achieve more variety and taste combinations so that they can raised confident, happy eaters.
We have a team working out of our own kitchen in North London – a lot of care and attention goes into each recipe and each pouch that goes out!
Q Tell us about your background writing for the likes of Vogue and Conde Nast Traveler, does it feel like a complete departure to launch your own start-up?
A It does and it doesn’t. I always thought I’d be an editor or a writer when I ‘grew up’ – but I’ve followed an unusual path! I never would have imagined I’d start a business one day, but now that I have, I’m continually pleasantly surprised by the extent to which I’m applying my editorial experience on a day-to-day. I learned so much from the editors I worked for at Vogue – how they see things, how they communicate what they’ve seen – and I’m working every day to keep to those same standards and diligence.
There is an editorial approach to everything we do – no ingredient is unnecessary, everything we send out and communicate has been carefully considered. And we are still able to provide quite a high-touch experience to our customers, which I’m really proud of.
Q Have you always liked to cook and what sort of food do you eat at home as a family?
A My husband and I are both huge foodies – we LOVE to cook and always have. I’ve always read cookbooks and loved learning about food – and my husband is actually a very technically precise cook! That’s why I started teaching myself and learning so much about child nutrition and how children learn to eat – because it was so important to us to raise a good and confident eater. Food is a huge part of our lives, and I literally don’t know what we would have done with a picky eater!
We both find the act of preparing a meal to be really meditative and enjoyable, which is why we eat more or less every meal at home. For the most part we eat plant-based, but we try not to stick to labels (you can cringe, but we consider ourselves ‘conscious-tarians’).
Our go-to weekday meal is a buddha bowl with quinoa, pine nuts, and whatever veg we can find in the fridge, roasted. It’s such a simple but comforting meal, and it’s how Liba’s learned her colours, actually! We also seem to do quite a lot of veggie stews and soups… I guess you could say we like comforting foods that keep well in the fridge!
Q And finally, you’re originally a New Yorker, how are you finding raising a family in London?
A I actually hated London and was desperately homesick for New York for so long, but all that has changed since having my daughter. I love it now and can’t imagine moving back! London is a really special place to raise a child. Liba is so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing parks and playgrounds – we live in such a green, almost suburban-feeling area, but we are a few stops into the centre of town with all it has to offer. And in general London is such a child-positive city in a way that New York isn’t. Buggies are always (or nearly always) welcome, every restaurant will have a high chair – kids seem to be everywhere and allowed everywhere. It’s so easy to hop on the tube or a bus or go into a taxi without folding the buggy. When Liba was 6 weeks old I took her on the tube to the Tate Modern and fed her on a bench outside – with no struggle or stress. it was the most pleasant day, and also very specifically London! And also the fact that there is such a wonderful work-life balance here… the list goes on!
Three healthy organic baby recipes from Mamamade
- 1 x Mediterranean Veg & Red Lentil Pouch (eggplant, mushroom, spinach, red lentils, garlic + avocado oil)
- 2 whole plum tomatoes, from a tin
- Dash of oregano
- 100g pasta
- Cook pasta according to instructions. Drain and cool.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat contents of pouch according to instructions – either in microwave or in a steaming basket.
- Tip into a blender with the tomatoes and oregano. Blitz until smooth.
- Stir over pasta, and enjoy!
Baby’s First (supercharged) Gnocchi
Will make about 8 gnocchi (about 2-4 portions)
- 1 x Sweet Potato, Beetroot & Dates Pouch (sweet potatoes, beetroot, medjool dates, Ceylon cinnamon + coconut butter)
- 2 heaped teaspoons plain flour (can sub for gluten free bread flour) + more for surfaces
- 1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
- Olive oil
1. Steam or microwave contents of pouch according to instructions on the back of the pack.
2. While that’s heating, add a big glug of oil to a small pot of water and bring it to a simmer.
3. Once the vegetables are cooked through, drain off any water and mash with fork until mostly smooth (some texture is ok!).
4. Add in flour and corn flour and mix in with fork until it creates a soft dough.
5. Flour a plate or smooth surface. Using a small teaspoon, scoop bits of the dough and place onto floured surface, then roll gently into small sausages (about 4cm).
6. Using a spatula, gently transfer into simmering water and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the gnocchi rise to the top and float.
7. Spoon out the gnocchi onto a plate and drizzle with avocado oil.
Sweet & Spiced Porridge Fingers
Makes about 4-6 fingers (2-3 portions). Once cooked, they will keep in fridge for 2 days or freezer for 1 month
- 1/2 cup porridge oats
- Any milk, plant milk, or water
- 1 x Carrot, Apple & Ginger Pouch (Carrot, Apples & Ginger)
- 1 Tsp tahini
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with greased or waxed parchment paper.
2. Prepare porridge according to usual method or instructions on back of pack.
3. Whilst the porridge is cooking, steam or microwave contents of Carrot, Apple & Ginger pouch for 3-5 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
4. Once the veg is heated, mash gently with the back of a fork. Stir into porridge with the tahini, adding more for taste if desired.
5. Spoon porridge mixture onto baking sheet, shaping into rectangle ‘fingers’.
6. Bake for 10 minutes, until starting to brown, and allow to cool entirely before offering to baby as finger food.