'Cooking for baby' records my experiences with feeding our little girl, Abhi, who loves variety in food, just like me ! Finding newer food options to keep her interested has been a challenge - sometimes exasperating but more often, exciting!

Read more of this in the 'About'. section

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Carrot, raisins, and dates porridge

6 months and above

A very simple, highly nutritious, and totally yummy treat for your little one.

Carrot - 1 small (cleaned thoroughly, skin scraped, and roughly chopped)
Dates - 2 Nos(deseeded)
Raisins - 5-6 Nos(washed well and soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes)
Milk - 1/2 cup

Place everything together in a bowl. Cover and pressure/steam cook till done. In a pressure cooker 3 whistles on high flame will do the trick. Let cool a bit. Blend to smooth puree. Feed baby when it is just a little warm.

Post script:

  1. Any kind of raisin can be used in this recipe. Back home in India black raisins are touted for their medicinal benefits and are used to prevent/cure constipation in babies.

  2. If you do not want to add regular milk to your baby's diet as yet, steam the ingredients in half a cup of water and add baby formula/breast milk during blending. Do not add formula while cooking since heating beyond a prescribed temperature affects the nutritional profile of the formula.

Nutrition information

Dates - are superfood! Rich in antioxidants, iron, potassium,essential minerals, the B vitamins and so on. In short a couple of these will go a long way in ensuring health and preventing nutritional deficiencies.

Carrots - full of beta carotene and vitamin A

Raisins - iron rich and full of other micro nutrients

Monday, October 25, 2010

Eggless apple and dates bran muffins

1 Year and above

During a train trip from Chennai where I worked, several years ago, to my hometown in Kerala, I met a young couple travelling along with their toddler.I reach my destination by about 8 Am and hence avoid breakfast on the train. This couple, however, were going further and hence picked up breakfast when they reached the Ernakulam station.Once their breakfast ritual was done with the mother pounced upon the just awakened toddler with a pack of commercial potato fries. The toddler was obviously in no mood for the chips but the mother pleaded, cajoled, coaxed, and even threatened till she finished half the packet. The dad pitched in with his, "baby, you should eat breakfast". I was aghast to say the least! But once I started taking notice, I found that this was not a one off case. There are many people who regularly buy bakery goodies for their kids to eat after school; start them on a batter fried chicken, fizzy drink, chips, and instant noodle routine when very young. Started this way no wonder they bloom into coke guzzling-junk gobbling obesity ridden teenage years and then into young adults who have already succumbed to some or all of the degenerative diseases.
This in mind, I try and avoid picking up commercial snacks and edible goodies, as far as possible, where my little girl is concerned. Her only allowed indulgences, till date, are transfat free biscuit brands and chocolates in moderation. Once she gets to the school going- peer influencable age my influence on her is bound to decrease. Hence, why not atleast put some effort into giving her a healthy start. This wholesome muffin, with loads of goodness in it, is a little different from your regular muffin in that it has more texture. I also found that it tasted much better the next day.

wheat bran - 1 1/2 cups
whole wheat flour - 1 cup
low-fat buttermilk -1 cup
flaxseed - 1 dessert spoon (finely ground)
packed brown sugar - 1/4 cup
baking powder - 1 teaspoon
date syrup - 1 dessertspoon
dates - about 10 Nos (pitted, and chopped)
apple - 1 Nos (deseeded, grated peel and all)
extra virgin olive oil - 1 dessertspoon

Soak the bran and powdered flaxseed in the buttermilk for a few minutes. Incorporate the baking powder with the wheat flour. Add everything together and mix to form a sticky batter. If required, add in a little warm water. Pour into greased cup cake moulds and bake in preheated oven at 200° C for about 20 minutes. Insert a tooth pick to check if it comes clean. If required, bake at 180° for another 4-5 minutes.

PS: The chopped dates and date syrup will make these appear a little sticky in places. Hence cool well, preferably overnight, before eating.

Sending this over to Sreevalli's Kids Delight -Finger Food
event at Spice Your Life. She has been good enough to allow in my really late entry. Thank you, Sreevalli.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wheat milk porridge

8 months and above

Wheat milk porridge is extremely delicious and I give it as a special treat to little Abhi. I do not make it frequently because it takes a little extra time. Definitely worth the effort, do try this for your baby.

I've used broken wheat (burghul) belonging to the Sambha variety which is dark brown, high in protien and nutrients. You can also use whole wheat grains for this but make sure the soaking time is increased to overnight.

Pic 1 : Broken wheat soaked, drained, and ready to be ground

Broken wheat - 1 tablespoon
Jaggery syrup - 1 teaspoon
Cardamom - 2 or 3 grains from a pod
Fresh coconut milk - 2 or 3 teaspoons
Water - a cup or more if required

Soak broken wheat for 1 or 2 hours. Pulverize to smooth paste adding a little warm water and the cardamom. Drape a thin muslin cloth/ cheese cloth/ light cotton cloth over the mouth of a vessal. Secure the cloth around the vessal with a string or rubber band. Strain the wheat paste through this. Coax out the milk by stirring with a spoon. Cover the cloth and vessal with a lid allow the milk to slowly trickle out (15 minutes or so). Finally, remove the string and twist cloth to squeeze out all the milk (refer picture 3).The white whey you get thus is wheat milk.

Pic 2: The filtering process

Pic 3: Squeezing out the milk completely

Transfer the wheat milk into a thick bottomed vessal. Mix in a cup of water. On slow flame allow to simmer for about 10 minutes stirring all the while (the stirring bit is important or else the milk congeals unevenly and burns). Add more water if mixture becomes too thick. When you see the milk taking on a glazy look, add in the jaggery syrup and coconut milk. Stir for a couple more minutes and take off flame.

Pic 4: Wheat milk porridge

To extract coconut milk
I do not use readymade coconut milk, organic or otherwise, in baby food. Extracting the small quantity of milk required for your little one is quite easy. Here is how:

Grated or shaved coconut - 2 tablespoons
Warm water - 2 teaspoons

Put the coconut and water in a processor/mixie and grind for a couple of minutes. Place a sieve or very thin muslin over a vessel. Take out the coconut mixure by hand, hold over sieve and use your hands to squeeze out the milk.

Nutrition information

Wheat - rich in Vitamin B6, iron, folate, zinc, manganese, phospherous etc. Wheat is also said to maintain good haemoglobin levels and to prevent childhood asthma.

Jaggery - iron rich

Coconut milk - a delicious source of healthy omega 3 fats and calcium

wheatberry on Foodista

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ragi-wheat biscuit or call them cookies if you will

9 months and above
My habit of scrutinising the list of ingredients before purchasing new food and related products has taken on obsessive compulsive overtones after Abhi's birth. When she was old enough for finger food, I checked out a whole lot of teething biscuits, rusks and other commercial baby biscuit varieties. I was alarmed to find that the majority of these sold here had copious amounts of palm oil, hydrogenated shortenings, and sugar. A particular, popular brand said it had a calorific value in the range of 200 per biscuit ( remember, I am not counting calories but talking about empty calories) and going through its nutritional information, found the lion share of this calorie count is just from the sugar and corn syrup in there!

This recipe yields soft , crumbly cookies that are ideal for baby snacking if dipped in some warm formula, milk, or even expressed breast milk.

Ragi (finger millet/kezhvaragu/panjapullu) flour - 1 cup ( use a good commercial brand if you cant grind your own)
Wheat flour - 1 cup
Almonds - 5 nos (optional, use for babies who are not allergic to nuts)
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Cooking soda - 1/4 teaspoon
Jaggery syrup - 1/2 cup
Olive oil - 2 teaspoons
Cardamom - 2 nos (powdered fine)

Dry roast the flours together in a skillet on low flame for a few minutes. Sift the flours, baking powder, and soda together. Grind the almonds to a coarse meal. Add all ingredients together and knead to a slightly sticky dough (this should not be a hard dough). If required add a little milk to moisten it. Form small balls with the dough and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Slightly press with fingers to flatten the balls out.

Preheat oven . Place the tray in and bake for about 15 minutes at 150°. Remember, baking time is largely dependent on the oven. Cool and store in an airtight container in the refridgerator.

Place one biscuit in a bowl, pour some warm milk over, slightly press with finger to crumble and allow baby to dig in

Nutrition information

Wheat - Whole wheat flour is rich in Vitamin B6, iron, folate, zinc, manganese, phospherous etc. Whole wheat is also said to maintain good heamoglobin levels and to prevent childhood asthma.

Ragi (finger millet) - An exceptional non-diary source of calcium and also contains good amounts of the essential amino acid, methionine essential for vitality.

Jaggery - iron rich

Almond - Is a prebiotic (increases the good bacteria naturally present in the intestine) source of protein, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, etc.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Multigrain and sprouts sweet porridge

8 months and above

This porridge with the goodness of two whole grains, sprouted green gram (moong), and flavoured with cardamom and sweetened with Indian unrefined sugar aka jaggery beats the texture , creaminess, as well as yumminess of commercial cereals.

I have added a cashewnut and almond inorder to add to the taste as well as nutrition. This is because it is common among indians (the one's that belong to my circle, anyway) to add a couple of nuts to the usual multigrain cereal flour (sattu maavu) that is given to babies after they cross the eighth month. I had introduced abhi (our baby) to nuts early on and had ensured she is not allergic to them. In case of a family history of allergy to nuts, just make this recipe without the nuts.

Like wise I have used 'podiyari' which can be best described as the 'rice' counterpart to burghul. podiyari is to rice as burghul is to wheat! ( that was a wide throw).This is easily available in south india and out here in Oman (where we live now) since there live a large number of south indian expats here. Podiyari is made out of Kerala rose matta rice (red rice). In case this is unavilable,follow the procedure mentioned in the post script given after the recipe.

Podiyari (broken red rice) - 1 teaspoon (5 gms)
Pearl Barley - 1 teaspoon
Green gram sprouts (moong sprouts) - 10-15 nos
Almond - 1
Cashew - 1
Cardamom - 2-3 grains from a pod (not the whole pod)
Jaggery syrup - 1 teaspoon ( if you dont get jaggery use demerara or any unrefined sugar variety)
Milk - 1/4 cup
Water - 1/4 cup

Rinse out the grains and sprouts. Add everything together , apart from jaggery, and pressure cook for 6 whistles. Direct stove top method can take 20-30 minutes on medium and low flame depending on the barley variety. Once done, blend into a smooth mixture, add the jaggery syrup, simmer for a minute. If too thick add some more boiled water.

PS: If podiyari is unavailable, substitute with any other red or brown rice variety (even white will do though this nutritionally inferior). Follow this procedure:

Rinse the rice, spread on a clean cotton cloth and allow to air dry. When almost dry, throw into a skillet and dry roast on very small flame for about 5 minutes. Put into a chutney jar or coffee grinder and grind till it takes on a coarse burghul like texture.


Nutrition Information

Podiyari - High in fiber, nutrients and vitamins.

Barley - is a very good source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, apart from many minerals and vitamins including selenium, manganese, folate, and niacin.

Almond - Is a prebiotic (increases the good bacteria naturally present in the intestine) source of protein, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, etc.

Cashewnut - contains magnesium, copper, phospherous, and manganese.

Green bean sprouts - Sprouting increases the nutritional benefits of the wonder bean, whole moong. Its a better source of protein, B vitamins, iron, and calcium.

Jaggery - iron rich

Cardamom - is a great flavouring agent and used in combination with jaggery increases iron absorbency.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Avocado and mango treat

6 months and above

Ripe avocado - 1 No (medium sized)

Ripe mango - 1/2 No (medium sized)

Clean both fruits thoroughly. Guage out the avocado and cube the mango. Blend both together. The sweetness from the mango goes really well with the distinct yet bland taste of the avocado.

PS: I use alphonso mangoes for this

Nutritional Information

Avocado - A source of the heart healthy fats, the B vitamins, fiber, vitamin E among many others.

Mango - A delicious source of Vitamins C,A, and E, prebiotic (fostering the growth of digestion aiding good bacteria found naturally in the intestine)fiber, amino acids, and antioxidants.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Barley - rice - moong bean lentil porridge

8 months and above

This recipe is a modification on the traditional 'Pongal', a breakfast delicacy in Tamil Nadu - South India. The traditional pongal is generously slathered with ghee (clarified butter) and made with white rice and moong dhal. This is a nutritionally superior, easily digested version.
Pear Barley - 1 teaspoon (5 gms)
Rice - 1 teaspoon
Green gram lentil (mung dhal/paasiparuppu) - 1 teaspoon
Milk - 1 tablespoon (30 ml)
Water- 1 tablespoom
Cumin seeds (jeera) - 1/4 teaspoon

Rinse, drain, and soak the barley, rice and lentil in water for half an hour. Add rest of the ingredients and pressure cook on medium flame for 6 whistles. Alternatively place in a thick bottomed skillet and cook on slow flame, ocassionally stirring, till completely cooked and mushy ( about 15 minutes).

You can opt to add a pinch of salt though I used salt very sparingly till my baby turned a year old.

Nutritional information

Barley - is a very good source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, apart from many minerals and vitamins including selenium, manganese, folate, and niacin.

Green gram lentil - is an easily digestible source of good quality protien. This does not accumulate gas in the intestine unlike other lentils and so is the first of the lentil family to be introduced to babies.

Cumin - a great source of iron promotes digestion and cures abdominal distress.

Rice - the most easily digested cereal for most babies

Barley on Foodista