Baby-sized frittatas (baked omelettes) are a brilliant, easy way to introduce your baby to the wonder of egg. Just about the slickest, smartest, most versatile and best value food on the planet, Mama Nature must have having a good day the day she dreamt up the humble egg.
Complete protein, essential minerals and vitamins in combinations you don't find anywhere else, good fats.
The combinations are endless with this recipe. Any vegetable is good. Pre-steam things like broccoli and sweet potato but things like spinach, courgette, tomato can be used raw as they will cook gently in the oven along with the egg. Herbs are great - a pinch of just about any dried or fresh herb brings an interesting flavour for the mini tastebuds. And protein-wise, anything goes, from chickpeas to cheese to canned fish to cooked meats.
WTF DO I DO?
Whisk one egg in a small jug with a splash of baby's usual milk. If you have the baby on your hip, rest your jug on a folded tea-towel to prevent it from moving as you stir. Add any herbs and divide mixture across a mini muffin tin (non-stick ideally so you don't have to pre-grease it). Fill each section only half-way up so you have space for your additions. Now submerge small pieces of vegetable and protein into the egg mixture, creating any combinations you like. One tray could be a mix of salmon and grated courgette; tuna, spinach and cheddar; pea and ham; and squished chickpeas with diced tomato. Bake your frittatas for 180c/350f for ten minutes then remove and allow to cool (checking that the egg is thoroughly cooked by inserting a metal fork or skewer into one of the frittatas and ensuring that comes out clean). Serve your babe up a couple of frittatas with a side of smashed avocado, and stash the rest in a sealed container in the fridge for use as anytime baby snackettes. They will keep for three days.
Who knew that bone broth was such a good first food for weaning babies? Mineral-rich, and full of protein (as well as flavour), broth makes an ideal base for many baby recipes like - stews, soups, pot roasts, ragu, curries, pho noodle bowls, and more. Some parents give a bit of broth to their weaning babies as a nutritious warm drink in a little cup.
Baby B and I trundled down to the butcher this morning and she charmed him into sharing his generations-old bone broth technique. We left with a kilo of organic, grass-fed beef bones wrapped up like a present.
WTF DO I DO?
Put a kilogram of bones in a large lidded pan and cover with cold fresh water. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and leave to stand for an hour. Then turn heat on and bring to a gentle simmer, leaving for as long as you can. 12 hours is meant to be the best duration, but three is great. When you can stand it no longer, turn off the heat and allow the liquid to cool enough for you to safely lift out the bones and strain through a sieve into a jug. Once at room temperature you can pour the broth into ice cube trays and pop cubes out into cooking pots, or you can store the broth in sealed jars in the fridge or freezer for use in batch cooking or to create big family sharing dishes. It'l keep safely in the fridge for a week in a sealed container/jar (it'll solidify like jelly) and for three months in the freezer.
Any hot-and-bothered (TEETHING?) babies out there who'd be well up for a creamy, refined-sugar-free chocolate ice cream on a stick (...with a side of fibre, carb, good plant-based fats, magnesium, potassium, calcium, manganese, copper, and iron)? Ok then. One thing before we get into it: Cacao (raw friend of cocoa powder, and being raw it's much more nutrient-dense but tastes no less chocolatey). Some mamas avoid cacao/cocoa for their weaning babes in case of traces of naturally-occurring caffeine in the base product. Just wanted to tell you I've given B Sevenhills Wholefoods cacao quite a few times and she was no more bouncy than usual.
WTF DO I DO?
Blend together one mushy, soft avo; one ripe banana; a tablespoon of cacao; and the squidgiest medjool date in the packet (tear it up into bits). If your date isn't so squidgy just soak it in boiled water for a few minutes to soften it up. Divide your blended mixture between six mini lolly moulds (or an ice cube tray), and freeze til solid. Wear a bib!
The jar is seeing some action this week.
This is one of those recipes that I return to on repeat over the months, every time sore gums attack. Shop-bought teething biscuits are often based on highly refined flour that's lost a lot of its nutrition-load during processing. Some are chemically-fortified, and a one or two of the big brands contain quite a bit of refined sugar...not ideal to expose brand new teeth to sugar from day one.
Here's a tried-and-tested homemade teething biscuit that YG mamas all over the world have tried and loved. They're tough enough to stand up to some serious drooly numming, but not so hard that they'll damage sore gums. Best of all, this recipe is fast, easy, and costs pennies.
WTF DO I DO?
Whizz a teacup of uncooked porridge oats in blender for a few seconds until you have fine flour. Mash one regular-sized ripe banana very smoothly and mix the two together with a fork or clean hands. It will feel like you need more liquid in your dough, but stay strong. A firm dough will come together just as you're giving up hope. If you'd like to add some extra flavour, finely-grate in half-cm of fresh ginger or the zest of half a lemon. Both are interesting flavours for the babe to explore. Now, using clean and wet hands, form shapes you think your baby will like. Or roll your dough out and cut it up into triangles/sticks/discs. You should yield around 15 biscuits from this amount of mixture. arrange on a greased baking sheet and bake at 180c/350f for 12-15 mins until firm and just beginning to go golden. The biscuits will become even crispier as they cool, and will keep safely for a week in an airtight jar in the fridge.
Baby B's off on a pram adventure with her grandmother today and I'm packing them off with a bunch of badass pram snacks.
Banana and coconut = fibre, carbohydrate and long list of vitamins + minerals. Ground almond rounds out the nutrition-load with great fats, fibre, plus skin-supporting vitamin E. And because these balls are raw we don't lose any goodness through applying heat during cooking. Almond = tree nut so approach with caution unless you've already established that your babe has no nut allergy (however almond is one of the lowest-allergen nuts on the risk list and reactions are not common).
WTF DO I DO?
Fork-mash a half-banana very smoothly (if you're one-hand-cooking rest your bowl on a tea towel so it doesn't slip). Scatter in two tablespoons ground almond and three of desiccated/shredded coconut. Stir until a sticky, soft dough comes together. But the bowl into the fridge for a few mins to rest (have a ☕️). Then with clean hands grab couple of fat pinches of mixture and roll into balls between your palms. You can take the bowl to the playmat so your baby can watch. This amount should yield six to eight pram-snack-sized balls. To make them grippy rather than sticky, whizz each ball round and round in a teacup that's been sprinkled with a bit of extra desiccated coconut (major baby LOLs for the whizzing). Into a little pot/box and they'll keep in fridge for three days. If they last that long...
YG PJ Pancakes again! This time with a cute little banana and lime nectar for dipping.
WTF DO I DO?
Mash two bananas very smoothly. Put half in a small bowl with a splash of coconut milk and a sprinkle of lime zest. That's your dipping nectar sorted. Put a frying pan on high heat with some coconut oil while you mix your batter. Using mashed banana as base, crack in two eggs and a teacup of flour (I used buckwheat). Mix well and pour small circles of batter into your pan, maybe four per batch. Flip, stack and repeat. Dollop with coconut yoghurt and zest a lime over the top if you have one leftover from last night's G+Ts.
Protein, great plant fats, fast- + slow-release carbohydrate, and a long list of naturally-occurring vits and mins. And quick. B had hers in grabby strips that she dunked/ licked/flung. Her dad and I had fat stacks. YUM.
"Fuuuu". "Fuu" What's that, Baby B?
You fancy some of those vibey Viet soup noodles even though you've got no teeth or fine motor skills?
Pho noodles are everywhere I look at the moment. Some days I can barely push the pram through the noodle-lined streets of East London, and last week B was mesmerised to sleep watching a Vietnamese chef winding miles and miles of homemade pho in the railway arch noodle bar near our house.
Well, cool babies should not miss out on important dishes just because they're little. I've made my position clear on that, haven't I, mamas?
So let's do this.
The basis of a good Pho bowl is the broth. Indeed some noodle bars keep their broth recipes a closely-guarded secret. Not me. I start with my Baby Friendly Bone Broth (or salt-free powdered stock/bouillon - try the Marigold brand). Broth is mineral-rich and provides proteins that aid the baby's digestive system. The vegetables provide vitamins C and A, plus dietary fibre and slow-release carb for sustained energy. The ginger and garlic bring a host of essential minerals and environmental-damage-fighting antioxidants (they're seen as deeply health-giving in various ancient food cultures). And the buckwheat is back! Buckwheat noodles are super nutritious. These noodles are a pretty good protein source (about 14g/100g) but dial up the nutrition load in this dish by adding some flaked salmon, shredded chicken, or finely-chopped hard-boiled egg.
WTF DO I DO?
Bring a mug-full to a simmer in a small pan with a slice of fresh ginger and half a squished garlic clove. Your veggies and noodles will cook in this liquid, absorbing the flavour. Add a grated half-carrot, three grated raw mushrooms, and a few mini broccoli trees. Bring back to a simmer and allow the veg to soften before adding half a stick of noodles, snapped in half. If you're adding fish or chicken, simmer-cook it now along with the noodles.
Serve your pho bowl straight-up or pass it through the blender and serve by spoon with a few noodles on the side to play with (throw!). ✌️🍜
Little magic formula for you, mamas.
You know me, always trying to find ways to elevate basic, cheap, unprocessed ingredients into something special for a bb to enjoy. My way with porridge turns THE simplest dish into countless easy, nutritious combinations that are anything but basic. Follow my little formula and this quick little baby breakfast will never get boring.
It's all about the power of three:
1. Choose a milk (coconut, almond*, organic cow/goat, breast, formula, lactose-free cow, organic brown rice milk, or keep it simple and just use water)
2. Choose a fruit (great choices are banana, mango, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, cherry, grated apple or pear, ripe plum. I steer away from citrus, and tropicals like melon and pineapple).
3. Choose a superpower (chia seeds; ground almond; ground pumpkin seeds, linseed, sunflower seeds; a sprinkle of a super-spice like cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, nutmeg; any baby-safe smooth nut butter...almond, cashew or peanut (latter two only if you know your baby doesn't have a tree nut allergy which affects about 2% under-threes).
The combos are endless and mixing things up keeps the babe from getting deja-vu of the tastebuds.
This is your opportunity to flex your creative muscles before you've even finished our morning brew. Achievements, mamas. Golden ones. Celebrate every victory.
Today Baby B had:
coconut milk + banana + chia
Tomorrow she's having:
almond milk + blueberries + almond butter
water + mushed mango + cinnamon
So easy you can cook it in a field.
HANDY. BECAUSE RIGHT NOW I'M CAMPING IN ONE.
This meal is great fun for a baby because there's so much going on: textures, flavours and colours from some big-hitting ingredients. Canned black beans are a brilliant first food. They have more flavour than other beans and mash up super creamy, bringing useful fibre, protein, potassium, and B6. Beef brings complete protein (= all nine essential amino acids...the holy grail for anyone in the business of growing), and is packed with minerals like iron and zinc. Pepper and red onion deliver Vits A, C, E, and most of the B-Vitamin team, plus calcium, beta-carotene, and fibre. The garlic, herbs n spices add a long list of minerals and antioxidants., and the yoghurt dials up the calcium + vitamin D.
Adding a teaspoon or two of my Baby-Friendly Guacamole (see the Insta feedfeed) takes this dish up a further notch in nutrition and in taste.
WTF DO I DO?
Soften diced half-onion and one squashed/grated garlic in a tiny glug of olive oil then add two tbsps organic beef mince. Stir until meat is thoroughly browned. Add three tbsps black beans and pinch of sweet paprika, cumin and oregano. Half a regular-sized coffee mug of cold water, a teaspoon of tom purée go in, then simmer for seven minutes, squashing and mushing the beans as you stir. Allow the chilli to cool before heaping a couple of spoonfuls into a bowl and top with a tsp plain yoghurt. Pimp it with the smashed avo guac, or some grated organic cheese. If your babe is super hungry then serve this over some plain brown rice. A squeeze of lime and it's party time 🎉.
This chilli can be pushed through a sieve or pulsed in the blender if your baby prefers smooth textures right now.
Weaning is confusing.
For something that's seemingly so simple and natural, teaching your baby to eat is surrounded by a lot of conflicting advice.
Yet helping to instil positive eating habits in our children is surely one of modern parenthood's major responsibilities, given the well-documented negative impacts that a poor diet can have on a child's health and development.
I do my best to demystify what a balanced baby diet looks like, and give parents ways to expose their babies to a wealth of ingredients, flavours, textures, and cuisines in a fun, creative and most importantly - easy and no fuss - way.
Sales of commercially-produced baby food is in decline all over the developed world as modern parents choose to cook for their babies. I think there's a huge lack of fresh, relevant and relatable baby recipe resources for new parents, so I'm doing my best to provide one in Young Gums.
Jam. For babies.
This multi-purpose two-ingredient raw jam is packed with nutrients and beyond easy to make. With no refined sugars or artificial preservatives, it's a sweet little addition to all sorts of baby meals and snacks. It takes less than a minute to prep and will keep for 5 days in the fridge.
The hero ingredient is chia seeds...widely consumed in South American countries for generations these tiny, taste-free & easily-digested seeds are heavy on fibre, calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. And they're one of the richest plant based sources of brain-function-supporting omega3 fatty acids (also found in oily fish). Strawberries are heavy on vitamin C, and contain traces of rare minerals like copper. Plus they taste of sunshine.
WTF DO I NEED?
- One punnet of strawberries (150-200g)
- Two tbsp chia seeds
Optional: a squeeze of lemon (perhaps not if you have an eczema or reflux baby...the citric acid can exacerbate these conditions); half tsp pure vanilla extract.
WTF DO I DO?
Tip clean, hulled strawberries into your blender. Whizz until smooth then pour into an old glass jar that has a lid (this is an old nut butter jar I put through the dishwasher). Stir in two tablespoons of chia seeds. Add vanilla or lemon if using. Lid on and into the fridge for six hours/overnight. The seeds will absorb liquid from the fruit pulp and swell to form a naturally-sweet soft-set jam that's dafe from the very start of weaning.
Swirl into greek yoghurt. Use as a dip to dunk fresh fruit sticks. Or as a pancake topping. Drizzle over my one-ingredient soft-serve ice cream. Add to porridge.
Real food, real talk.
Come on now.
We're meant to be eating healthily here!
BUT THERE IS A WAY, MAMAS.
As East London hums through the mother of heatwaves, Baby B is crazy hot and bothered. After a sweltering broken night's sleep she's running on empty and so am I. So, it's time for the thinking-mama's summer breakfast...banana (n)ice cream. Made in seconds, from just one ingredient. Two if you're feeling fancy.
Bananas are our MVP here, bringing potassium, manganese, Vitamins C and B6, fibre, and efficient fast-release carb for bouncy morning energy. You could leave it at that, mamas, or customise with healthy extras. I want B to have some protein this morning so I'm adding a teaspoon of almond butter. A teaspoon of oats works nicely, or a small amount of any berry or soft fruit. You can go tropical with a bit of coconut cream and lime zest. You could go anywhere with this, mamas. Today I'm serving it up with strawberries but I could have whizzed them into the ice cream to make it pink.
WTF DO I DO?
This recipe takes seconds, but does involve a little plan-ahead. Slice or dice a couple of ripe bananas and put them in a lidded container in the freezer before bed the night before. In the morning, take a couple of handfuls of frozen banana pieces and break them up into your blender with a splash of water (or any milk). Your perfect blending duration will vary depending on power of your blender and size of your banana pieces, but the key to success is this: lots of small pulses. I use a NutriBullet to make mine and it takes 30-60 seconds of pulsing, max. Pulse your bananas for a second or two at a time, stopping every now and again to shake or scrape any unblended pieces towards the blades. All of a sudden you'll have beautiful soft-serve peaks to make Mr Whippy weep. It'll melt by the second so have your hot little friend bibbed-up and ready for action.
Eleven grown-ups, two weaning babies and one bump sharing a supersized Young Gums Lamb Tagine...one of my all-time most crowd-pleasing big family sharing recipes.
Are the grown-ups eating baby food?
Or are the babies eating grown-up food?
It doesn't matter. There's a whole lot of evidence suggesting that eating together as a family or as a group helps a weaning baby to learn about the social aspects of eating: what food looks and smells like, and how it's eaten and shared. The use of cutlery and hands. Turn-taking and conversation. And not throwing food at the wall...that sort of thing...
Anyway, all sizes of happy customer round the Young Gums dinner table tonight 👍
I'm often asked about my store-cupboard essentials so here are my baby baking heroes:
Rye flour, buckwheat flour, unsweetened dried dates, spelt flour, gram flour, cinnamon, chia seeds, coconut oil, ground flax/linseed (Lidl, Tesco), ground almond, pecans, hazelnuts, unsulphured and unsweetened dried apricots, eggs.
And this stuff didn't fit in the picture: oats, unsweetened vanilla extract, nutmeg, cardamom, star anise, and nut butters - almond, cashew, both smooth. In the fridge: butter, whole cow's milk, homemade spiced almond milk (recipe on my Instagram feed).
Wherever we end up with the kitchen experiments, this is where we start.
So let's make it fun!
Mealtime = playtime in the Young Gums kitchen.
WTF DO I DO?
Grate one small raw courgette into a mixing bowl using your box grater. Crack in one egg. Wiggle. Two pinches of dried mixed herbs (or just oregano). Three tablespoons of grated cheddar. A teacup of buckwheat flour (which is about 200g, although you might need slightly more if your courgette and egg are slightly bigger than average). Stir to combine. If you're #onehandcooking with a baby on your hip, rest your mixing bowl on a tea-towel to stop it moving as you mix. You're looking for a stiff dropping consistency when your batter comes together. You can add a splash of your baby's usual milk, or water, if things feel feel a bit too thick, or a scatter of extra flour if it's looking too runny. Buckwheat flour behaves just like regular wheat flour in this recipe, but it has a fundamental nutritional difference. It derives from a seed, not a grain, and as such packs more protein. It also has a slower and more sustained energy release than regular white flour. Divide mixture across a well-greased 12-hole mini muffin tray, or six regular-sized muffin tray. Grate a bit more cheese on top for golden crispness then bake at 180c/350f until golden and slightly risen. This will take 15-20m depending on the size of your muffins. When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving - I like these split with a bit of butter and mashed avocado. Stash the spares in a box for use as pram snacks. Insert one into the mini fist when hunger strikes. You know...when they make the hungry noise.
It's not all baby food you know.
Weaning a baby is heaps of fun, but it's also crazy tiring. You can't pour from an empty cup so I share the odd mama-boosting recipe along with nutrition tips for new mums and tips on using paying attention to your nutrition to keep your energy levels high during breastfeeding, or broken sleep.
Best known as the star player in hummus and curries, turns out chickpeas are 100% addictive as a deeply nutritious crisp-replacing savoury snack, when toasted up with some powerful spices.
Why are chickpeas so good for mamas? Iron, protein, and fibre. Loads of our diets are low on both. Even a slight iron deficiency can make you feel fatigued/weak/lightheaded/fuzzy-of-brain (I know right, so far so all-in-a-day's-mothering...but maybe upping your iron could help). Protein. An important nutrient for new mothers as one of its central roles is repair of damaged/trauma-d tissues (plus you can't build your mum-guns without it). Fibre. Known to aid sluggish digestive function and act on the damaging type of cholesterol (LDL), a fibre-rich diet can ward off fatigue.
TWO kickass version of this recipe here, both on heavy rotation in my house right now...
WTF DO I DO?
Drain and rinse a regular 400g can of cooked chickpeas, then shake out onto kitchen paper/clean tea towel and pat them dry. Tip onto a baking tray with one teaspoon coconut/olive oil and a sprinkle of salt n' pepa (remember those mamas?) and two tsps paprika OR a tsp each of cumin & turmeric. Cook at 180c fan/200c/350f for 25-30m until crispy and toasted., visiting the oven once or twice to shake the tray to prevent any sticking and burning. Once cool they'll keep for a week in a sealed jar but it'll take everything you've got not to munch them up waaay quicker than that.
A sunshine sharing dish that works indoors or out, these juicy lamb koftas are going to be the star of the show at our BBQ this afternoon.
Koftas are a traditional quick, tasty sharing dish in families right across the Middle Eastern region. The word originally comes from an old Persian word meaning 'to grind', and everyone thinks their mum/granny does it best. Today at our place, the grown-ups are having theirs with big salads, salty olives and crunchy toasted pittas but B and friends will be having their koftas as little lollipops with a creamy dunking dip.
There's a lot of protein here in the lamb and Greek yoghurt (it contains more than regular plain yoghurt). Red onion and cucumber bring easily-digested soluble fibre and vitamins C, K and B1, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Cumin adds aromatic depth, and is known to contain phyto-nutrients that have a powerful antioxidant effect. And parsley might seem a bit ordinary but nutritionally it's anything but. Full of micronutrients, I use it as a vegetable rather than just a flavouring herb.
WTF DO I DO?
Finely dice half a small red onion and throw it into a bowl with a generous handful of minced organic lamb, a squished garlic clove, a teaspoon of cumin and six finely chopped leaves of parsley. With clean hands, mush everything together and form little lollipops around little wooden sticks or metal teaspoons (you'll slide the meat off the stick before serving, or leave the spoon to cool and serve it still attached). You should make three or four, depending on size. Lay the lollipops onto a hot BBQ or place onto a hot, flat pan that's been lightly greased with olive oil to prevent sticking. Turn and cook until meat is completely cooked through. Meanwhile grate an inch or so on cucumber on a box grater and mix with a couple of tablespoons organic plain Greek yoghurt. Let the meat cool to a safe temperature then remove from sticks (or leave on cooled spoons) and serve koftas whole with yoghurt to dunk OR mash the kofta into the yoghurt and serve by spoon, depending on where you are with the teeth situ.
Paletas are Mexican childhood tradition. Fruit-packed ice pops in all sorts of colours and flavours, paletas have become big business all over the world. Hipster paleterias are popping up in the foodie areas of big cities all over the world, displaying rainbow racks of pretty lollies.
Paletas are also flipping excellent for teething babies (🙋🏼) as they numb sore gums at the same time as delivering some nutrition in an easy, fun format.
Simple to make, paletas keep for ages in the freezer and are so much more nutritious than most sugar-laden shop-bought lollies. I have about a billion paleta recipes but here's a lovely starter for ten: tropical pina colada.
Coconut milk is bursting with nutrition (plant fats, protein, fibre, lots of vitamins and minerals), and is one of the only plant-based sources of a nutrient called lauric acid...which is abundant in human breastmilk. No wonder so many bbs love coconut! They must have a sixth sense. Pineapple brings a long list of vitamins and enzymes, plus of course that lovely sweet + zingy taste. Lime zest is optional but you know me, I like life as tropical as possible. 🌴
WTF DO I DO?
Whizz together one 400ml can full-fat coconut milk (ideally one without thickeners/emulsifiers Try @bionaorganic...I save money by ordering little cases of six through Amazon's Subscribe & Save service) with half a fresh pineapple that you've skinned, cored and cubed. Zest in quarter of a lime before blending everything smooth. Pour into six lolly moulds, or an entire ice cube tray, and freeze for two hours. Grab one for your babe and one for yourself. Sunshine on a stick.🍦🍍🌴
I'm making a cute Malaysian-style fish + vegetable curry for B's dinner tonight (homage to a killer one I ate on Broadway Market last weekend), and this baby-friendly homemade curry paste is my starting point.
The paste is really simple and will freeze up brilliantly for future use.
All it needs is a handful of coriander/cilantro (leaves and stalks), two garlic cloves, a thumb of peeled ginger, a spring onion, half a white onion and if you like, a tiny bit of fresh sweet red chilli.
Add all of this to your blender cup and pour in two or three egg-cups of cold water and whizz to a smooth paste. Easy.
To turn it into curry, heat a couple of tablespoons of this paste in a pan with a splash of olive/coconut oil before adding finely chopped or grated vegetables (courgette and carrot work well) and stirring as the vegetables soften slightly. In with a teacup of cold water and a teacup of coconut milk, and bring to a simmer. if you're adding white fish, now is the time. scatter a few cubes of raw fish into the sauce and put a lid on while it steam-cooks in the sauce. If you're going veggie with your curry, scatter in a couple of tablespoons of rinsed canned chickpeas and again, put a lif on the curry and leave for a few minutes of steam-cooking over a gentle heat. Serve your curry over brown rice with a teaspoon of plain yoghurt to add creaminess (and calcium).
This was the first recipe I ever cooked for Baby B and it remains one of her faves. This dish might look a bit fiddly but it's really quick and easy...an real #onehandcooking win.
We're looking at a really well-balanced baby meal here, with protein, slow-release carb, fibre and good fats represented along with many essential vitamins and minerals...but the really interesting thing about this dish is the flavour profiles. You know I'm of the 'go big early' school of thought for baby feeding (lots of science backs it up) and this aromatic tagine brings some unusually complex layers of flavour ideal for gently introducing your baby's palate to a broader range of tastes. Garlic, cinnamon, cumin and turmeric are packed with nutrition (all are revered in various traditional food cultures for their health-supporting properties) and they combine into something really special flavour-wise.
If your baby is cool with tomatoes this dish is great with addition of one canned plum tom. If your bb eats dairy then a bit of plain yoghurt on top of this dinner takes it from great to off-the-charts. Serve your tagine over wholemeal couscous, which takes seconds to cook (splash boiled water from the kettle and put a plate over the bowl while the water's absorbed into the grain). If you like you could add lamb (at onion-cooking stage) to up the protein and mineral content.
Yield: two servings for a six-month-old/one for a 12-month-old, but this dish is well worth maxing up for everyone to join in with...#onefamilyonemeal.
WTF DO I DO?
Put a small pan on heat and warm one tsp coconut/olive oil. Throw in diced half-onion and one squished garlic clove. Sweat/soften/stir for a couple of mins then pile in grated half-carrot, half-courgette, 3tbsp rinsed chickpeas, and a fat slice of butternut squash, peeled and cubed. Now spices: half tsp dusting of ground turmeric, cinnamon and cumin. Stir to coat everything in spice then splash in 6 tablespoons cold water and simmer gently 8-10mins. You'll know it's cooked when the butternut is soft but check pan halfway through cooking time, splash more water if needed. Remove from heat and mash/whizz depending on where you are with teeth. And that's you done.
Into a bowl, into the baby.
Soft, marshmallowy sweet potato toast for baby B this morning. This recipe is a bit of magic - so quick, so easy, so tasty and SO nutritious, it's suitable for babies of all ages and stages. A useful anytime recipe for all weaning parents to have up their sleeve.
Sweet potatoes are a nutritionally-efficient and tasty first/early food, bringing easily-digested fibre, vitamins A + C + many B-vits, plus minerals like phosphorous, copper and magnesium. BB butter = berries + butter. Nut butter (almond is low on the allergy-risk list but do tread carefully if your baby is not used to this nut) brings fat and protein to this breakfast, and the tangy berries balance the natural sweetness of the potato. Aromatic cinnamon's full of minerals, as well as an interesting flavour for a developing palate.
WTF DO I DO?
Cut raw, skin-on SP into slices around a centimetre thick using a serrated bread knife. Slot two into toaster and crank it on. The exact cooking time varies based on toaster settings/slice-thickness but with mine (dualit) I cook for 3m-ish til edges crispy and brown and centre of slice is soft. Top, slice, cool, and serve. I like mine with almond butter and raspberries on top. Luckily so does Baby B.
Mejadra sounds fancy but it's so simple (one pan + virtually no prep, it pretty much cooks itself). And it punches well above its weight in taste and nutrition.
An age-old dish passed down the generations, everyone's grandmother makes mejadra (or majadra) a little bit differently. Most versions have crispy fried sweet onions on top but since B picked those out and gave them back, I'm leaving the onion topping out here. See Yotam Ottolenghi's 'Jerusalem' book for the best version I've found. This baby-friendly recipe is adapted from his.
Brown basmati rice is an excellent food for a weaning baby. Unlike white rice which has been stripped of its nutritious outer casing, this stuff provides a good blend of carb, fibre and some minerals. The spices here combine to create a deep (but gentle) aromatic flavour that's so interesting for the curious little tastebuds (sweet cinnamon, rich savoury cumin, tangy coriander seed and turmeric, smoky black pepper) as well as providing a long list of mineral compounds.
The rice is nice by itself, or with a bit of plain yoghurt (mashed together for babies who are low on teeth or sore of gum). Also brilliant as side-dish to meat, fish or other protein-source. I love it with a smushed-up fried egg mixed through.
WTF DO I DO?
To make enough for one baby meal and a snack for two parents: bash up one tsp dried coriander seeds in a pestle+mortar (or with back of a big spoon, or press with a heavy can/rolling pin to break them up to chunky dust. Tip into a saucepan with a tsp ground cumin, tsp ground cinnamon and half-tsp ground turmeric. Toast the spices in the dry pan for thirty seconds on medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons olive oil and a teacup of brown basmati (about 100g). Stir to coat rice in the oil and spices. Pour in three teacups (whichever vessel you measured your rice in) cold water. Lid on and bring to simmer. Cook for 15m, stirring infrequently. When rice is cooked remove lid and leave to stand for five mins, then stir and serve. 🍚🍴
Hummus is often seen as the side-show when nutritionally-speaking, it's the frickin main event. It's a deceptively clever little dish made from simple, easy-to-find whole ingredients that whizz up really quickly in the blender. This version has none of the added salt, preservatives and emulsifiers you sometimes find in the shop-bought stuff. And it's lots cheaper.
By combining chickpeas (garbanzo beans in the U.S.) with tahini (sesame seed paste) you're bringing together all nine amino acids in the same bowl, representing what's known as a 'complete protein'. It's really rare to find complete protein in cheap, plant-based meals (usually you'd need to reach for meat or fish), and protein's essential for growing babies - the body's building blocks for growth. This hummus also contains vitamin C, E and B6; minerals iron and potassium, and a very interesting savoury flavour to tempt curious little tastebuds.
WTF DO I DO?
Drain and rinse one 400g can of chickpeas and put them into your blender with the juice of half a lemon, one squished/grated garlic clove, one tablespoon of tahini, three tablespoons olive oil and two of cold water. Blast until smooth and creamy then pour into a sealable container that you can stash in the fridge. Serve two or three teaspoons of hummus with an extra drizzle of olive oil + a tiny sprinkle of sweet paprika if you like. Wholemeal pitta slices, chunky sourdough crusts, cucumber sticks, and raw red pepper pieces are all great for dunking. Warm roasted butternut wedges are great if you're eating at home.
I checked this dish with our NHS paediatric dietician and she had two pieces of advice: if you're concerned about a possible sesame allergy omit the tahini (it's still yum). And if your bb has nappy rash or eczema you could omit the lemon juice...the naturally-occurring citric acid is thought to aggravate those conditions in some bbs.
We had friends round for a heatwave BBQ lunch today.
I was all HMMMMN WTF IS BABY B GONNA HAVE...?
But it's been totally easy for her to join in.
We kept the dressings/sauces/seasonings separate and B nummed onfat chunks of toasted courgette and aubergine, then the inside of a charred new potato squished with avocado stolen from the grown-ups' salad. cucumber sticks kept her busy while it was all cooking and now she's waiting patiently (ish) on the mat for a warm peach.
First family barbecue...SUCCESS.
Shakshuka is originally a North African dish but over the generations it's become a signature dish across the Middle East. It's the kind of meal everyone's got an opinion on, and everyone's own mum makes *best*.
The word means 'mixed-up' and there are loads of variations but this is a simple version that's great for a weaning baby. We have it for breakfast but it's a really useful anytime-meal that you can have on the table in a few stressless minutes...a useful recipe to have up your yoghurt-splattered sleeve. Full of protein, fibre, fats, vitamins and minerals (the egg alone ticks most boxes but everything else pulls its weight, too) and best of all, TASTY.
WTF DO I DO?
In your smallest frying pan/saucepan soften a finely-diced quarter of an onion and finely-diced quarter of a pepper in a bit of olive oil. Cook for 3-4 mins on medium heat, stirring often. When the vegetables are softened but not yet brown, squish/grate in a small garlic clove and cook for a further minute. Add two big canned plum tomatoes, with a splash of the juice and a pinch of cumin. Stir to combine, bashing up the toms as you go. When things are looking well combined and sauce-like, create a dent in the sauce with back of your spoon and crack the egg in. Now leave the pan on a low heat for 4-5m (without stirring) while the egg poaches in the sauce. For little babies it's advised to cook eggs entirely, til the yolk is set. Scatter with a couple of leaves of coriander/cilantro, finely chopped. Depending on the teeth situ...serve it straight up, or fork-mash everything together and spoon in. Either way mama, you just Shakshuka'd.
So easy and so quick, this baby-friendly egg dish is next level.
WTF is MATCHA and why is it all over the health-food cafe menus and foodie Instagram feeds right now?
Is is a good thing for a new mama to drink? And how do you make a cup?
Well. Matcha is a traditional Japanese form of green tea that comes in powder format. Matcha powder comes in two grades: cooking grade (that you see in matcha brownies etc) and ceremony grade (finer stuff that's made for drinking). It comes in small packages and costs a few pounds, but you use only a tsp at a time so it lasts a while.
Matcha contains caffeine, (just like coffee) and a little bit of the minerals calcium, potassium and iron (just like coffee). The big difference is in the way the caffeine is absorbed into the body. Unlike coffee, matcha contains an amino acid called L-Theanine which slows and softens the caffeine release meaning that the energising effect is thought to be gentler, slower, and longer-lasting. A lot of people who drink matcha say it doesn't give them that weird buzzing edginess that coffee can bring.
Matcha is made from ground-down green tea leaves so you're consuming the whole leaf vs just infusing leaves in water, like with a green tea bag. Because of that matcha delivers maybe ten times the antioxidant effect that green tea is famous for. In fact the antioxidant load in matcha is higher than that of famously antioxidant-laden superfoods like goji berries, blueberries, pomegranate.
I can't really describe the taste...it's tea-like, but kind of creamy too when prepared as a latte. Safe while breastfeeding, in moderation...as with anything caffeinated. One cup of this a day instead of your regular morning brew gets the thumbs-up from the dietician I check my recipes with:
WTF DO I DO?
Warm a cupful of milk in a pan. I switch around between almond milk and organic cow's. Warm it through and add a teaspoon of matcha powder. Whisk or use a handheld milk frother to blend and froth up your latte. Remove your matcha latte from the heat before it boils. Add a teaspoon of honey if you like.
On busy working-mama days the store-cupboard keeps us alive. This seven-minute dinner mostly comes out of a can but it's crazy nutritious and a great way to get some important omega3 fatty acids into your bb... via the wonder of the sardine.
Sardines don't scream 'baby food' but there are few finer and more efficient foods you could serve up to a weanling. Complete protein, calcium, iron, potassium, plus that unusual piquant flavour. The vegetables bring fibre and vitamin C, plus skin-boosting lycopene in the tomatoes and blood-strengthening iron in the dark green leafies. I've got Cavolo Nero (aka dinosaur kale) here but spinach, curly kale or dark cabbagey greens are also great. I'm using spelt pasta since it's high in good-quality carbs and contains heaps more protein than regular. It's £1/pack at Sainsbury's.
WTF DO I DO?
Sweat diced half-onion and one squished garlic clove in a blob of olive oil, then grate in half a little courgette (or quarter of a biggie). When softened add two canned toms and a bit of the can's juice, and one fillet from a can of skinless and boneless sardines. Pinch of dried oregano and a small handful finely sliced greens. Stir and sweat it all together for 3-4 mins. Meanwhile snap and boil about fifteen strands of spaghetti, for 5 mins then drain and mix with the sauce. Depending where you are with motor skills & teeth, serve straight up BLW style or finely chop-chop-chop with a knife and fork to make this dinner spoonable. Cheese on top if you like. We like.