Cumin Beet Apple Yoghurt Puree

Cumin, Beetroot, Apple, Greek Yoghurt Baby Puree
6 months+

Nutrition
If you hate beets it might be because you, like me, were only offered the boiled, sad preparation growing up. But beets done right can be addictive and delicious. My toddler definitely thinks so and I, having introduced them to him as a bay, am taking all the credit ;) Beets are not just gorgeous to look at but so amazing for our bodies, particularly due to their detoxification and anti-inflammatory powers, in addition to being a solid source of folate. Cumin is a fantastic digestive aid and antioxidant. It’s also a good source of iron! In this dish, cumin’s smoky and nutty flavors beautifully complement the earthiness and sweetness of beets. We suggest pressure-cooking or steaming (versus boiling) the beets to preserve nutrients. Here, they join forces with probiotic and calcium-rich yoghurt to create a nutritious, delicious, flavor packed puree any budding gourmet will love. 


Yield
8 oz / 1-2 baby servings

Ingredients
1 beet, about 4 inches in diameter, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
Pinch, about 1/16th teaspoon cumin or up to ¼ teaspoon for more adventurous babies
¼ cup plain, full fat Greek yoghurt

Method
In a pot for which you have a lid, a pressure cooker or your baby puree maker of choice, add the beets, apples, cumin and enough water for cooking (1/4 cup for pressure cooker, ½ cup for a regular pot).

Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook covered until the mixture is soft, 10 minutes in the pressure cooker, 20 minutes in a regular pot. If the latter, check the mixture every 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t dry out, adding more water if necessary. 

Once the fruit and veg are soft, puree in a food processor or using a hand-held blender. Allow the mixture to cool.

Add in the yoghurt and mix until smooth.  


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Cinnamon, Sweet Potato, Leek, Kale Puree

Cinnamon, Sweet potato, Leek, Kale Puree
6 months+

Science Corner
If spices were superheroes, cinnamon would occupy the upper echelons of power. Superman. Maybe Batman. No, actually maybe Captain America. Or more likely, a combination of all of those and more. Packed with anti-diabetes, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, cognition boosting, anti-cancer and female hormone cycle regulating powers, cinnamon is a spice truly worth incorporating into your baby's, toddler's, kid's and family's diets. The only caveat with cinnamon, as previously discussed, is that the widely available Cassia variety has high levels of coumarin, which is a liver toxin. A 2012 study conducted in Norway by the Scientific Committee for Food Safety found that Norwegian kids, because of their regular intake of cinnamon-flavored oatmeal, were ingesting coumarin in much higher doses than what is considered tolerable and safe. The simple way around this problem is to ensure that the cinnamon you use, especially if sprinkling it into your foods regularly (which you should!) is of the Ceylon / Sri Lankan variety, which has undetectable amounts of coumarin. You can get Ceylon cinnamon from specialty spice shops, Whole Foods and on Amazon. The extra effort in this regard is definitely worth it. 

Yield
8oz or 1-2 baby servings

Ingredients
½ large sweet potato, chopped
1 large kale leaf, stem and thick fibrous central vein removed, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
Pinch, about 1/16th teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon or up to 1/8th teaspoon for more adventurous babies

Method
In a pot for which you have a lid or a pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium high until shimmering. 
Add the leeks and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. 
Add the potato, kale and cinnamon, ¼ to ½ cup of water for steaming (depending on how big your pot is and how liquid you want the puree) and cook on low heat with the lid on until the veggies are tender, about 15 minutes for a regular pot and 10 for the pressure cooker. 
Once the veggies are cooked through, blend in a food processor or with a hand-held blender. Serve fresh or freeze for later. 
You can skip the oil and steam the veggies with the cinnamon in a pot with a lid or your baby puree maker of choice.
If your toddler likes mashed veggies as sides to chicken or fish, this is a nice, nutritious option. 


Paprika Pomodoro

Store-bought pasta sauce is tempting because of the convenience factor but this tangy, delicious and vegetable-infused paprika pomodoro is so easy to make that I bet you won't be as tempted at the grocery store once you've tried it. You can add whichever veggies you choose and puree for a smooth texture. We use it with whole grain pasta, over portobello mushroom or regular pizzas and even as a substitute for ketchup! 

Science Corner
Kids love tomato sauce and luckily, tomatoes are bursting with nutrients. Rich in vitamin C and biotin, anti-oxidants like lycopene (released on cooking) and a boatload of phytonutrients, tomatoes have heart and bone health-boosting as well as anti-cancer properties. Paprika contains a potent anti-inflammatory compound called capsinoid. The strongest scientific evidence for paprika is for its anti-obesity effects - researchers from Penn State University observed significant increases in antioxidant status and decreases in insulin and triglyceride levels in human subjects after a meal laced with a spice blend (containing 30% paprika) versus the same exact meal without spices. 

Yield
500 g / 4 toddler pasta sauce servings

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
2 celery sticks finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
2 cups tomato puree
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
salt and pepper to taste
splash of balsamic vinegar (optional)

Method
In a pot for which you have a lid, warm the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and sautee for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and sautee for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the carrot and celery and sautee until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato puree, bay leaf and paprika and give the sauce a good stir. Cover and cook on a low flame for 15 minutes until the veggies are softened stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. You can also add zucchini, spinach etc (which will alter the color of the sauce) if you like. Once the veggies are cooked, season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. If you like more acidity, you can add the vinegar at this point. Remove the bay leaf and puree for a smooth texture or leave it chunky, if you prefer. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days for a quick and delicious option in a pinch. Serve it with whole grain pasta, in mushroom pizzas or as a healthy alternative to ketchup! 










Nutmeg Sweet Potatoes

Nutrition
Nutmeg’s health benefits include its antibacterial activity, particularly for teeth, its ability to aid sleep and alleviate digestive distress. Less is more when it comes to this spice – if ingested in very large quantities, it can cause unpleasant side effects like palpitations and sweating so use it with a light hand. Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables around bursting with vitamins A, B and C, manganese and fiber. And most babies love them! To maximize the absorption of nutrients, it’s good to cook sweet potatoes with some fat like olive oil used here.

 Yield
Serves 2 kids or 1 toddler/kid as a side dish

Ingredients
1 medium sweet potato peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
A pinch, about 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Water for steaming
Dollop of butter (optional)

 Method
Cook the potatoes until soft using your method of choice, preferably steaming or pressure-cooking to preserve nutrients. Drain the potatoes saving some water if you prefer a more liquid puree. Warm the oil in a pot over medium heat, add the cooked potatoes and nutmeg and sauté for 1 minute until the spice is cooked through. You can add salt for older kids and adults.

Serving Suggestions
Puree, lightly mash or leave in pieces. You can amp up the mash with a dollop of butter. Serve as a side for Thanksgiving or year round with fish or chicken. Stir in soft tofu or fish poached in milk for a complete baby meal. 

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Turmeric Lentil & Avocado Puree

TURMERIC LENTIL & AVOCADO PUREE
6 months+

Nutrition
Lentils are one of the best foods for heart health - a large study following 16,000 adults found the regular intake of beans and lentils to be associated with a 82% reduction in mortality from heart disease! Their high soluble fiber, magnesium and folate content is responsible for the cardioprotective effects. Lentils are complex carbohydrates, providing sustained energy without a spike in blood sugar so they are great for weight management without compromising satiety. They are also an excellent source of protein, iron and B vitamins. Avocados are potent anti-inflammatory foods, rich in anti-oxidants and a source of excellent quality fat that aids in keeping inflammation in check and prevents heart disease making this genuine, creamy baby superfood in a bowl!

Yield
4 4oz baby food servings

Ingredients
1/2 cup split yellow lentils or moong daal (easily found in Indian grocery stores)
Pinch or 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch or 1/8 teaspoon hing or asofateida, found in Indian grocery stores (optional but great for digestion of lentils)
1 ripe avocado

Method
Wash the lentils thoroughly and discard the water. Do this 2-3 times. Add fresh water and soak for 30 minutes, especially important if not using a pressure cooker.

If using a regular pot, bring the lentils, turmeric, hing and 2 cups of water to a boil on high heat, about 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that arises. Boil vigorously for 5 minutes continuing to take off foam. Lower to a simmer and cook partially covered for 30 minutes until the lentils have dissolved. If using a pressure cooker, cook lentils with 1 cup of water, turmeric and hing on a high flame for 5 minutes (1-2 whistles)  and then on a medium- low flame for 15 minutes. 

Once the lentils are cooked, add in the avocado and smash or blend for a smoother puree. Serve baby right away and freeze the rest for later. Alternatively, spice up the leftovers with salt, cumin, cayenne and lime for a delicious mommy lunch. 

 

Turmeric Sunshine Smoothie

TURMERIC SUNSHINE SMOOTHIE
6 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult

(or once you've introduced yoghurt to your baby)

Nutrition
As discussed in a previous post here, mangoes are brimming with carotenids like alpha and beta-carotene, which are precursors to Vitamin A production in the body and potent anti-cancer agents due to their antioxidant, free radical scavenging activities. Vitamin A is especially important for eye development in children - being fat soluble like turmeric, it is well absorbed in this greek yoghurt smoothie. Mangoes also offer a boatload of Vitamin C and some B vitamins, particularly folate - if you're pregnant and looking for sources of folic acid, you can devour this with your kids. Together with calcium, protein and probiotics from yoghurt, the range of health benefits from turmeric, the pro-digestive and anti-viral power of ginger, this superfood, power smoothie is a treat you can most certainly feel good about. 

Yield
2 8oz servings

Ingredients
1 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen mango
1 banana chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen peach (about one medium peach)
1/2 - 1 inch turmeric root grated (with gloves on!)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 - 1/2 inch piece ginger grated (optional)

Method
Mix all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Enjoy as a healthy and yummy breakfast or snack. Feel free to make extras and freeze for divine popsicles!

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Turmeric Hummus

TURMERIC HUMMUS
6 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult

Nutrition
Chickpeas provide a tremendous amount of insoluble fiber which regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels, aiding heart health. This fiber is converted into short chain fatty acids by gut microbes which serve as fuel for cells lining the colon, thereby keeping this very important digestive organ in healthy, pristine condition. Tahini is a superb source of calcium and vitamins B and E. Combined with pita or wheat bread, hummus offers complete protein i.e. all 9 essential amino acids, critical for growing babies and toddlers (and us adults!)

Yield
2 1/2 cups

Ingredients
1 15oz can cooked garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons tahini
1-2 garlic cloves (optional, especially for younger babies)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice ( from 3/4 of an average lemon)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
6 tablespoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon salt (skip for babies)

Method
Heat the oil over medium flame until hot but not smoking. Add the turmeric and stir the pan on and off for about a minute until the turmeric heats and opens up. Turn off the heat and allow the oil to cool. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the chickpeas and add to a blender bowl. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper (if using) and cooled turmeric oil and blend. Add the ice-water (a Yotam Ottolenghi trick!) one tablespoon at a time while blending to smooth out the hummus. 

Serving suggestions
Serve as a dip with chopped veggies, whole wheat breadsticks or pita bread for toddlers and adults or as a puree for babies. Slather on bread and top with chopped avocado (or other veggies) for a nutritious and tasty sandwich meal. 

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Turmeric Thai Curry

TURMERIC THAI CURRY
6 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult

Nutrition
Both butternut squash and green beans are incredibly high sources of carotenoids which are converted to Vitamin A in the body and crucial for healthy skin, mucous membrane integrity and eye development. Coconut milk is rich in medium chain fatty acids which are more readily utilized for energy rather than for fat storage (take that cellulite). Moreover, lauric acid in coconut milk is converted into monolaurine in the body which has anti-viral and antibacterial effects. Combined with the benefits of turmeric, this is true baby super food. Add a bit more coconut milk and some salt for a 'thai inspired soup' perfect for the family table. 

Yield
1 cup or 2 4oz baby meal servings

Ingredients
3 cups diced butternut squash (about half an average squash)
1 cup chopped green beans
Water for steaming
1 tablespoon olive, rapeseed or coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped or grated ginger (optional)
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons coconut milk

Method
Steam the butternut squash and green beans in a pressure cooker, steam basket or baby food maker of choice until soft. In a small saucepan, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the ginger and sauté for one minute. Add the turmeric and sauté for another minute. Add the oil mixture, pepper (if using) and the coconut milk to the squash and beans and blend. Add water for a more liquid puree. 

Serving Suggestions
Serve as is for a nutritious, delicious baby meal. Add a bit of salt and some more coconut milk or water to make a warming winter soup for the family table. For spicy spice-loving adults, serve with chopped thai chillis. 

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Moroccan Lentil Soup

MOROCCAN LENTIL SOUP
6 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult

Nutrition

Lentils are one of the best foods for heart health - a large study following 16,000 adults found the regular intake of beans and lentils to be associated with a 82% reduction in mortality from heart disease! Their high soluble fiber, magnesium and folate content is responsible for the cardioprotective effects. Lentils are complex carbohydrates, providing sustained energy without a spike in blood sugar so they are great for weight management without compromising satiety. They are also an excellent source of protein, iron and B vitamins. Here they come together with whatever veggies you have in your kitchen (carrots, zucchini, celery, eggplant, fennel, sweet or regular potato, spinach, kale are all good options) and an aromatic combination of paprika, cinnamon, cumin and coriander to produce a warming and satisfying one pot meal for the family table. 

Yield

3 adult or 4 toddler servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup green lentils soaked for 1-3 hrs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion finely chopped
1/2 celery stick finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped or grated ginger
1/2 sweet potato peeled and diced
1 carrot peeled and diced
Handful spinach or kale finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb diced (optional)
1 small eggplant peeled and diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups chicken, vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)
Salt to taste
Juice of half a lemon
Bread for dipping

Method

In a large pot, warm the oil on medium high heat. Add the onion and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the veggies, lentils and stock. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook with lid on for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and continue cooking on a very low flame for another 10-20 minutes until the lentils are cooked through and soft. Add more liquid if the mixture starts to dry out. Add salt to taste, lemon juice and serve garnished with parsley (if your kids don't mind "green things") and with some crusty bread for dipping. Skip the salt and puree for babies. 

Download the recipe here. 

Paprika Potato Potage

PAPRIKA POTATO POTAGE
6 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult

Nutrition

All too often, potatoes are thought of as fattening comfort food and not much else but that's absolutely not the case. They are a source of vitamins and minerals especially Vitamin B6 that is indispensable in the synthesis of amino acids which are building blocks for protein in the body. They are also starchy and superb for the energy demands of growing babies and toddlers. Cauliflower like all cruciferous veggies, is brimming with phytonutrients which help detoxify the body. It's also a great source of Vitamin C and is being studied extensively for its anti-cancer effects. It can be a bit hard to digest for some folks which is why we combine it with fennel which aids digestion and also packs a Vitamin C punch. Leeks are milder and sweeter than onions and my absolute favorite especially with other delicate ingredients like fennel and potato. They provide folate and phytonutrients making this potage (essentially a thick soup) truly nutritious comfort food for babies and everyone else. The gruyere cheese and paprika elevate the dish to a yummy place. In the bruschetta / adult variation, the goat cheese addition is just creamy and fabulous especially paired with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Yield

5 5oz baby portions
2 adult or 2-3 toddler portions

Ingredients

1/2 leek white and light green parts sliced
1/2 cauliflower head coarsely chopped
1 Russet or Yukon Gold potato chopped
1/2 fennel bulb chopped
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 - 1 cup water or chicken stock
1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese 
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Method

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker or medium pot until warm but not smoking. Add the paprika into the oil and sauté for 10 seconds to activate the flavors. Add the leeks and sauté for 2 minutes until softened. Add the potatoes, fennel, cauliflower and water or chicken stock (3/4 cup if using a pressure cooker otherwise 1 cup or until the veggies are just covered) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook with lid partially on until the potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes in the pressure cooker or 20 minutes in the pot. Puree the mixture, stir in the grated cheese and add salt and pepper if you like. 

Serving Suggestions

Serve the potage as a soup with some crusty bread or as a baby meal. You can skip the cheese if you haven't introduced dairy to your little one yet. I also serve it as a 'gravy' for grilled chicken to my toddler who is a tad picky about the texture of dry pieces of meat.

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Cardamom Quinoa Porridge with Apricot & Banana

CARDAMOM QUINOA PORRIDGE WITH APRICOT AND BANANA
6 months +, Toddler, Kid, Adult

Nutrition

Quinoa is a true superfood containing essential vitamins like Riboflavin (B2) which helps energy production in the brain and muscle cells, important minerals like iron, magnesium and manganese, twice the fiber of most grains and protein. Rare for plant-based protein, quinoa contains ‘complete’ protein encompassing all 9 essential amino acids making it a truly perfect, balanced grain for kids. I use it as a substitute for white rice in several recipes. Combined with dried apricots which are a great source of fiber, vitamins A, C and iron and bananas which have a load of fiber, vitamins and minerals especially potassium, quinoa here makes a delicious, nutty and nutritious breakfast porridge.

Yield

Makes 4 baby, 2 toddler/kid or 1 adult serving

Ingredients

1/2 cup quinoa rinsed well
1 1/4 cups water
3 cloves cardamom smashed or seeds from 1 clove removed and ground
3 dried apricots finely chopped
1/2 banana chopped
plash water, formula, breast-milk or cow’s / soy / almond milk

Method

Mix the quinoa, water, cardamom and apricots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes with lid on until the water is absorbed. Leave to rest for 2 minutes then fluff up with a fork. The quinoa should be fluffy and almost translucent once cooked.

Serving Suggestions

For young babies, add some water, formula or breast milk and the chopped banana and puree to your desired consistency. For the rest of the family, add the banana, a splash of milk and serve for a delicious power breakfast.

Instead of dried apricots, you can use fresh apricots or mangoes which also pair well with cardamom and make for a sweeter blend. Add the fresh fruit after the quinoa is done cooking.

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Cardamom Pears

CARDAMOM PEARS
7 months +, Toddlers, Adults

Nutrition

Pears are a superb source of a class of polyphenolic compounds called flavonoids which can promote heart health and help prevent Type 2 diabetes and cancer. The skin of pears contains a large proportion of its flavonoids so I suggest buying organic pears and leaving them unpeeled for toddlers and older kids. Pears also contain Vitamins C and K and are a great source of fiber. 

Ingredients

1 pear peeled and chopped for babies, unpeeled and chopped for toddlers and kids especially if using organic pears
1 clove (beginner) or 2 cloves (advanced) cardamom smashed lightly or half the seeds from 1 pod freshly ground for a stronger flavor 
1/4 cup water 

Method

Add the water to a pot with a lid, a pressure cooker if you’re using one or your baby food gadget of choice.

Add the smashed or ground cardamom and chopped pears. If steaming without direct contact with the water, you can add the pod to the water, which will impart some flavor and essence but much less so compared to directly cooking the fruit in cardamom infused water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the pears are soft enough to eat or puree for younger babies. Make sure there is enough water to prevent them from burning and sticking to the pot. Remove the cardamom pod and any seeds you spot although a couple left behind won't hurt. Depending on how watery you’d like the puree, you can add some of the cooking water to the pears and blend or leave in pieces and serve. 

Serving Suggestions

Offer the puree to your baby as is, in cereal, with yoghurt or mixed with other fruits and veggies. Some combinations that work nicely:

Cardamom pears with banana
Cardamom pears with peach
Cardamom pears with green beans
Cardamom pears with peas and broccoli
Cardamom pears with mango and spinach

If combining with veggies, cook the pears together with the veggies adding the cardamom as described above. Then add in the uncooked fruit (mangoes, bananas) and blend.

Toddlers, older kids and adults can enjoy these purees with yogurt or in cereal, oatmeal or whatever other combination strikes your fancy. Or skip the pureeing step and offer the cardamom infused fruit or veg in pieces to your entire family. 

Other fruits and veggies that can be cooked similarly with cardamom:

Carrots
Butternut or acorn squash
Peaches
Apricots

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