Exotic Homemade Baby Food
How adorable is my godson Uri? He was all about the banana tapioca pudding here…AND the camera. I’ll be posting more ridiculously cute pictures of Uri, his beautiful mother, and my attempts at getting all of the baby food in his mouth on my facebook page.
So why exotic baby food…I remember growing up I had an incredible tolerance for spicy food. My mom would always tell me that, after I was born, she had no desire to cook multiple meals or make her food more bland when I could finally eat solids, so she ramped me up by adding cayenne and other spices to my baby food. Genius!
In many cultures, baby food is by default homemade, and ingredients being what they are, things like cumin, cilantro, coconut milk, and even lemongrass are added. Doctors do say that babies learns to tolerate certain spices through the breast milk, so it makes sense to get them adjusted to flavorful foods early.
I told my girlfriend that I wanted to cook for my godson and try out a few flavors. So, not having a baby myself, I did a ton of research to figure out what was safe – I was paranoid!
- So first, a baby should be over 8 months old before introducing different spices (pediatricians’ recommendation).
- Next, no sugar or salt should be added.
- Spices like cinnamon should be avoided because they can cause allergic reactions. And no using extracts that contain alcohol (like vanilla).
- Fruits, other than bananas or avocados, and vegetables should be peeled and cooked – roasting or baking is the best way to develop flavor and avoid total nutrient loss.
- If you are introducing milk, it’s best to cook the milk to break down some of the milk proteins to aid in digestion.
These are only a few of the do’s and dont’s…
I went with one sweet and one savoury baby food for little Uri. I thought the roasted butternut squash with rice, coconut milk and cilantro was a hit until I gave him the banana tapioca pudding with star anise and vanilla. He went literally bananas for it! And, quite frankly, I found myself sneaking in a few more tastes than I needed to…I love to cook, and I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to see a baby honestly love what you made him…it was great. Enjoy!
Butternut Squash Homemade Baby Food with Rice, Coconut Milk, & Cilantro:
Yields 1 ¼ cups
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into a small dice (approx. 3 cups diced squash)
½ cup cooked white or brown rice
¼ cup coconut milk
1 – 2 tbsps cilantro, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 400° F.
In a bowl, toss squash with a little bit of olive oil to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet making sure squash is in a single later. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes until soft.
In a food mill or food processor, process squash with rice, coconut milk and cilantro to desired texture. Serve warm.
Banana Tapioca Pudding with Star Anise and Vanilla
Yields 2 cups
¼ cup tapioca
1 ½ cups milk
1 star anise
1/8 tsp vanilla bean powder or ½ vanilla bean (no extract!!)
1 ½ bananas mashed
In a saucepan, bring tapioca with milk, anise, and vanilla to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a low simmer and simmer uncovered 5 to 7 minutes until tapioca is soft. Remove star anise.
In a bowl, mash bananas to desired consistency. Add tapioca mixture and stir to combine. Serve warm.
Photos of me and Uri: Izaz Rony / http://www.methodizaz.com/