Fun food for babies
Kari Heron
Friday, May 25, 2012

Who says tiny tots don’t deserve a few gourmet treats?

No, my husband and I are not making an announcement. Sometime ago, we got a new kitchen toy at home and while the chef is experimenting with gourmet purées, soups, sauces, I am seeing how absolutely revolutionary this is in terms of quickly making healthy and fun foods for your baby. So if you have little ones, are about to, or know someone who fits either category, you must share this article.

Many of our friends are either pregnant or have recently had babies, and they are part of our everyday consciousness. Furthermore, we live in a family-centred region where babies are everywhere. You see beautiful, toothless grins peeking out from behind grown-up clothes while shopping and strollers far out-sell umbrellas in our desert home.

Traditional cultures gave babies the same foods adults ate, just using softer things, adding more texture as the baby teeth grew and digestives systems got stronger. As more and more people started working and began spending time outside the home, the need for convenience foods extended not just to adults and older children, but also to babies who must be fed routinely at short intervals. An entire industry developed, bottling fruit and vegetable purees for babies — until we started to question processed and packaged foods. 

According to Top Chef host Chef Tom Colicchio, “… cooking for babies does not mean throwing seasoning to the wind. Babies crave taste sensations like the rest of us, and while we don’t want to shock their systems or upset their wee digestive tracks, we can start them off on a lifelong love of food by seasoning theirs, albeit with a lighter hand... We just need to be alert to food allergies and sensitivities nowadays and introduce new foods slowly enough and at the right stages of babies’ digestive development.”

So here you have it… precious first foods for your baby. And of course, we are spicing things up a bit and making them more interesting. Who said gourmets had to have teeth?

We start with the basics — boiling veggies. Wash and peel one medium potato. Chop into equal pieces for quick and even cooking. Add to saucepan with boiling water. A small beet can get the same treatment. Another gem, called “cho-cho” in Jamaica but known as Chayotte in Mexico, Europe and the Middle East, has no taste of its own so it takes on the flavours of whatever you add to it. You can buy it in supermarkets especially those that sell exotic produce.

Then, wash, peel and chop three carrots and dunk them in a saucepan with boiling water.

Cook and strain two tablespoons of red lentils. These cook quickly and are a great source of protein.

After cooking the items, use a hand mixer and place whatever veggies you want to purée in your beaker and just whirl away! You will have baby food in less time than you can say “Supercalifragilisticespiallydocious!”

Here are some fun combinations:

Cho-Cho & Carrot with a hint of Sage

Ingredients: 1 carrot, ½ cho-cho (chayotte), cooked with a pinch of sage (you may cook with a small sage leaf instead of powder).

Beet & Carrot with a hint of Ginger

Ingredients: 1 carrot, ½ a small beet cooked with a pinch of ginger powder. Because ginger is such an intense spice, it is better to use the milder-powdered form than the fresh spice.

Potato & Carrot with a hint of Cumin

Ingredients: 1 carrot, ½ medium potato, cooked with a pinch of cumin.

Red Lentils, Cho-Cho, Potato & Carrot with a hint of Garam Masala.

Ingredients: 2 tbsp red lentils, 1 cho-cho, ½ medium potato, 1 carrot, whole garam masala (a pinch of it cooked with the items in a tea strainer) or a tiny pinch of the powder

Fresh Applesauce with Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Ingredients: 1 apple (wash, peel, chop and puree it), a tiny pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. No cooking necessary.

Share these with busy moms out there looking for ideas on how to feed their babies well and quickly! 

Kari is a Dubai-based journalist and photographer of the food blog chefandsteward.com. Follow  her on Facebook at facebook.com/ChefandSteward and contact her at: kari@chefandsteward.com


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