Norah O’Donnell and Husband Whip Up a Cookbook

08/28/2010 at 05:00 PM ET

With a professional chef at home in husband Geoff Tracy, it should come as no surprise that Norah O’Donnell is a bit of a foodie. The couple’s culinary pursuits went into overdrive after welcoming their three children, however, and is now yielding fruit of its own in the form of Baby Love: Healthy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler.

Norah O’Donnell, Grace, Henry, Geoff Tracy – Timothy Devine

Parents need to keep an eye on the future when dealing with the everyday question of what to feed baby, the first-time cookbook author tells PEOPLE. “[It] will affect them for the rest of their life,” O’Donnell, 36, explains.

Not only is brain development most rapid during the first year of life, but lifelong food habits — both good and bad — are being shaped. “They say from nine to 18 months you’ll have this opportunity that you’ll never have again to put almost anything in their mouth; That’s important,” she notes. “You’re training a palate to like different things.”

Case in point? Twins Grace and Henry, 3, and daughter Riley Norah, 2, all have an affinity for guacamole — with cilantro.

“It’s easily digestible and adds a lot of flavor,” Tracy points out. “I think it’s one little opportunity for a young child to try a unique flavor. Our kids eat cilantro on a regular basis.”

Reaching for a jar of store-bought baby food is often a decision borne of convenience, but O’Donnell suggests parents overestimate the time and financial commitment involved with making their own. By freezing small portions in an ice cube tray, the MSNBC correspondent and Today show commentator says she spends “an hour every two weeks” making fresh baby food for her brood.

Keeping the ingredient list short helps streamline the process.

“I’m not a professional chef and I’m certainly not a very good cook,” O’Donnell concedes, “but it was very easy for me to prepare a recipe.”

One morning while “rushing off” to work, O’Donnell says a nanny noted that food was running low. “I raced off to the store, bought a bunch of organic apples so I didn’t need to peel them, cut them up, steamed them and put them in the blender and voila: I had applesauce,” O’Donnell recalls. “And the house smelled beautiful.”

After searching for a cookbook that advocated a less-is-more approach to making baby food and coming up empty, the couple — who’ve “never purchased a jar of baby food,” Tracy says — realized that a need was going unmet.

“The goal is to help millions of busy parents out there like us … especially parents who want to champion a healthier approach to food,” O’Donnell says. “This is so easy. It’s green and it’s so much cheaper. It’s really a no-brainer,” she adds.

“That’s what the book’s supposed to be about. It’s not pretentious. It’s easy. And we hope it really helps people.”

– Reporting by Liza Hamm

FILED UNDER: Exclusive , Kids , Multiples , News , Parenting

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Showing 21 comments

Elle on

Did they something to that photo? They all look very….odd.

Jennifer on

Another “celebrity” cookbook? YAWN…

Catherine on

Elle – I have to agree with you. The colors are like a Barney show! But I think Norah is beautiful and they seem to have a very happy family. Love the red-heads!

Lee on

The only one who looks particularly creepy is the husband. He looks like some random weirdo who’s coming into the frame to try to get into the picture. Ick.

bobby jo on

Do we really need another cook book on how to make baby food. You cook veggies, fruit, and meat. Blend them. Women have been doing this for years. It is easy, and needs little explanation on it. I fed all my kids this way, and never bought a jar of baby food either.

And for people who do buy jarred baby food, I don’t think it is because they don’t know how to prepare homemade stuff. They just prefer the jar (which is fine too)

court on

Don’t know them but liked the article. I’m curious about the ice trays though. When you take them out to thaw them, don’t you have to consume all the food on the whole tray? That might work for three kids but I wonder what their suggestion would be if you’re only feeding 1. I would assume it’s probably not a good idea to keep thawing and refreezing.

Dani on

Court- I just took all the cubes out of the tray and put them into a freezer ziploc bag. Then I only needed to take out one or two cubes as needed and had my cube trays available to make new stuff.

If you want more info….I found all my information at

http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com

so much easier to look things up there than buy a cook book if you ask me!

Shannon on

Awww I think the photo is cute and I like their kids’ names.

Angela on

Ditto to what Dani said. I use wholesomebabyfood.com (and wholesometoddlerfood.com) way easier than a book and its free lol

Sheri on

Someone had a heavy hand with photoshop!

Sara on

Stepford parents! Wow. Photoshop is not your friend.

Elby on

Why not try Baby led weaning – much easier than mucking about blending, freezing, defrosting and heating everything. I used it for all 4 of my kids and love it, and what’s more my children will eat anything put in front of them unlike a lot of their peers.

skunknuggets on

I’m glad more parents are learning how easy it is to make homemade baby food. There’s certainly a time and place for jarred baby food, but homemade isn’t that difficult and usually costs less.

I think the photo is odd. The husband looks like a wax figure. LOL

Brianne on

I’m scared!

Kat_momof3 on

with the ice tray… you just remove the “cubes” of food you need for that meal… heck, after they’re frozen, many pop them out into a zipped baggy (to avoid freezer burn) and then use it to freeze the next food.. so you can pick out what cubes you want.

Bancie1031 on

WOW what did they do to this picture??? They look like wax dolls …. too much photoshopping perhaps?

CelebBabyLover on

Okay, I think it’s great they’re doing a cookbook, but I’m really confused by this: “By freezing small portions in an ice cube tray, the MSNBC correspondent and Today show commentator says she spends “an hour every two weeks” making fresh baby food for her brood.” Her kids are 2 and 3. Why in the world is she still feeding them baby food? At their ages, they really should be eating the same foods that adults do. :)

Erika on

They seem like a nice family. I don’t have children yet, but I didn’t know recipes were necessary to make baby food. When I was younger, my mother just put whatever vegetables they were having (as long as it was safe and healthy) into the blender and pureed it and that was our baby food. She said sometimes she did freeze it for during the day. I guess times were different back then lol.

I rarely buy cookbooks anymore though. I just look up recipes online and can find whatever I want with a ton of reviews. I guess I’m just too cheap lol, but it works like a charm.

Geoff Tracy on

Yes, it is really easy and we want everyone to do it – with or without the book. The first solid food we put into our baby’s bodies shouldn’t have an expiration date far off in the future. Unfortunately that is what most babies get fed. We have even more recipes online at http://www.babylovefoods.com – plus there are photos of me without a scary grin ;) Henry, Grace, and Riley are 3, 3, and 2 now – well beyond most of the recipes in this book although all ages love the Blueberry Flax Whole Wheat Pancakes!

Ella on

I wouldn’t write it off as another “celebrity cookbook”. Chef Geoff is well known and respected in DC and his restaurants serve great food. If a successful chef/restaurateur isn’t credible enough as a cookbook writer, who is?

That said, this picture was way way way over ‘shopped. People magazine should fire their photo editor immediately.

Beth on

Why are 2 and 3 year olds eating baby food? My son is 11 and he ate what we ate once he could eat solids.

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