Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spice It Up!

Indian spiceImage via Wikipedia
My son comes from a culturally diverse background.  He is half Indian, one quarter Italian, and one quarter Swedish, so eating bland, tasteless food is just not an option!  I have been adding herbs and spices to Dylan's food since he was 7 months old.  The current recommendation from most pediatricians for introducing spices is 8 months.  Many people don't think about adding herbs and spices into their baby's food, but the reality of it is, breastfed babies have already been exposed to the taste of herbs and spices that you ate while you were breastfeeding!  If you decide to experiment with herbs and spices, make sure to use the 4 day rule, just as you would with introducing a new food.

The first spice that I used in Dylan's food was cinnamon.  I added just a pinch into his pureed apples and sweet potatoes.  Now I even mix a little bit into his morning oatmeal mixed with bananas.  It kind of smells like banana bread...yummy!  Another spice that I use frequently is ground coriander.  It is used frequently in Indian cooking and Dylan loves a combination of split peas and lentil pureed with a pinch of coriander.

One of my favorite herbs to cook with is cilantro.  I use it in a variety of recipes and love it's bright, fresh taste.  I add it to pureed soy beans (edamame) and pureed zucchini.  I remove the leaves from about 10 sprigs of fresh cilantro and throw them into the food processor with the veggies.

A surprising ingredient I use when making pureed carrots is fresh ginger.  I use about a 1/2 inch piece of ginger root and throw it into the steamer when steaming the carrots.  Now I remove most of it before I puree the carrots because it can be overpowering if you add too much.  The health benefits of ginger are many, including aiding in digestion and boosting the body's immunity.  Below is a list of spices you may want to consider when preparing your baby's next batch of baby food!

I would never recommend adding sugar or salt to your baby's food.  The following list may help you to increase your baby’s impressionable palate.

    • pepper
    • garlic powder
    • basil
    • rosemary
    • dill
    • oregano
    • ginger
    • cinnamon
    • mint
    • nutmeg
    • anise
    • curry powder (you may offer your older infant a pinch of curry powder in baby’s food.  Watch for rash when adding curry or chili powder)
    • vanilla *

*When using vanilla as a flavoring for your baby food, ensure that you are using either the vanilla bean or an essence of vanilla that is not labeled as "pure".  Pure vanilla and other liquid flavors/extracts, depending on the market/country where you may live, often contain a high amount of alcohol. The alcohol is used to extract and preserve the flavor of the spice.

You may use pure vanilla for adding to foods that are cooking or baking as the alcohol will cook off. Never add any sort of flavoring to your baby's bottle of formula or bottle of breast milk.  (Source: www.wholesomebabyfood.com/tipspices.htm)

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