March 2nd, 2010
I’ve met so many wonderful, thoughtful, food-loving parents since I’ve started blogging, many of whom I’ve come to know through Twitter. One of my lovely Twitter friends is Jenna of Food with Kid Appeal, a self-proclaimed recovering picky eater who inspires parents to grow good eaters. Her recipes are wholesome, fun and thoughtfully take into account limited time, energy and budgets.
Without further ado, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Jenna. If you don’t already, check out her blog, follow her on Twitter (and me, too, while you’re at it!) and enjoy this great post inspired by the book 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. You know that I’m a huge proponent of spicing up food for even the youngest eaters (offering such adventurous foods was the inspiration behind ChowBaby foods!), so I LOVE this post. Enjoy!
When I’m asked by friends to give them some pointers on getting baby started on baby food, or the transition to table food, one of the things I like to tell them are about some super foods they might not think of as being good for baby. Most parents know that fruits, veggies and whole grains should be on baby’s spoon, but are herbs and spices front and center in your menu as good eats for baby?
As many studies are now showing, a variety of plant based foods contain lots of antioxidants and phytochemicals that might provide protection from heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer as well as boosting immunity to viruses, and killing bacteria. Another important property of many herbs is their anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation happens when pathogens enter the blood stream with disease and illness. Cells, tissue, organs, joints can all become inflamed. Giving your cells an extra punch from herbs could help get over viruses as well as prevent or mitigate symptoms of chronic illness.
The health benefits listed here comes from Dave Grotto’s book 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. This is my family’s food bible. I keep my copy next to the kitchen table and while we’re eating I’ll read what spinach, onions or mushrooms do for the body. In a lot of cases I can dig something out of it to make the food relevant to my boys so they gobble it up. When I told my oldest that the cilantro in the paneer cheese he wouldn’t eat contained magnesium, that “would help your lungs breath better”, he ate up.
Here’s a roundup of some items you want to make sure to get your little one hooked on at an early age so that they develop a taste for some of the flavors that may help keep their bodies functioning smoothly while they play and learn. Eventually your tot will turn into adults with passions and pursuits and they’ll need a body full of energy and stamina to accomplish whatever goals they’ve set for themselves. Food isn’t a cure all, but it may offer protection and taste great on the way down!
16 of the 101 foods Dave lists in his book are herbs and spices.
Super herb home-made baby food
According to Dave, a tablespoon of oregano packs the same antioxidant strength as an apple! Why not add some fresh herbs to your next batch of veggies and whiz some into the puree. Add flavor and boost baby’s antioxidant intake. An herby puree the whole family will love is this spinach basil pesto, a great alternative to butter or oil on cooked pasta.
Dry works as well as fresh
I don’t know about your kiddos, but my boys usually find tiny green flecks of fresh herbs and pick them out of salads. Herbs do have a strong fresh flavor that probably doesn’t appeal to most kids who are learning to tolerate bitter flavors. I know eventually they’ll eat them raw, but for now, in addition to cooking fresh herbs down in sauces and using them to flavor stocks for soups, I try to include as many dry spices in our meals as possible. To make taco night a breeze I mixed up this home-made taco seasoning which contains six super spices. Our morning oatmeal — with cloves, ginger and cinnamon —reminds me of pumpkin pie.
Optimize your stalks
Unless you have an herb garden, buying fresh herbs can be pricey. Don’t waste the stalks, toss them in a zip lock back with other veggie scraps and collect in the freezer. Use your veggie scraps to flavor meat stocks or simmer in a pot of water, then strain. Use the vegetable broth for soup or to replace water when cooking grains.
Natural food dyes
Make food colorful without the toxins in commercial food coloring. Use turmeric to turn rice yellow, and try wilted pureed herbs to turn pizza, tortilla or pita dough green.
At Food with Kid Appeal, Jenna blogs about her journey to feed her family whole food and grow good eaters with the obstacles of high food costs, a demanding day job, and a barrage confusing nutrition information in the news. Follow her on her mission to nourish her carnivore Hubby, and two sons: unfamiliar-food-protester 5 year old Big Boo and picky-palate 3 year old Little Boo.