Homemade recipes lead to organic food company for River Forest mom

Today Denise Henderson’s line of organic baby food is available all over the Chicago area, including Whole Foods in Lincoln Park, Sunset Foods and Peapod.com. But it started out in a kitchen-her own.

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She had given birth to twins at 34 weeks, and realized her son had food allergies when he started reacting to her breast milk. She quickly changed her own eating habits to accommodate his allergies.

When it was time to make the switch to solid foods, she made homemade purees in her River Forest home. With an emphasis on immunity-boosting “super-foods,” Henderson developed a system for creating her own baby food.

When her neighbors started to request some of her food for themselves, Square One Organics was born. Everything is gluten-free, organic and single ingredient-important to this allergy-minded mom, who understands the importance of being able to isolate triggers in an unblended dish. All of the food is cooked first for safety and immediately frozen; parents can choose to cook it or serve it defrosted, maintaining taste along the way.

“Broccoli tastes like broccoli,” Henderson says. “Then when we move to the big table and broccoli gets put on our plate, it’s not such a huge leap.”

Offering options like papaya, mango and pumpkin, the line is split into three color-coded categories: Everything in a red package is a Vitamin C super-food, orange is for Vitamin A, green is for super-greens (like spinach), and purple is for cereal. The food comes in 2-ounce BPA-free cups; if a child is hungry for more, you can move to a new food in a different color group.

“Children aren’t filling up on 4 ounces of any one thing,” Henderson says. And the ingredient label is easy to read-the pumpkin puree, for instance, says just “organic pumpkin and water.”

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