Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spicing Up Your Homemade Baby Food

Herbs and spices can enhance the flavor of any meal, including your homemade baby food. Use them in a way that works into your life, culture and diet. Herbs and spices can usually be introduced at 6 months. Introduce them one at a time, as you would with other foods to see if your child has any reactions. If you have a family history of food allergies, please discuss any concerns with your pediatrician first.

You can use fresh or dried herbs and spices in your homemade baby food. If you are using dried, please buy organic whenever possible. Conventionally processed dried herbs and spices are normally irradiated for shelf life, organic are not. This process is used to achieve shelf life, but i also lessens the health benefits of the herb or spice and may even pose a health risk due to the radiation.

Some of my favorite herbs and spices for homemade baby food are basil, ginger, turmeric, sage and cinnamon.

Basil has a light, fresh, almost mint like flavor. There are many varieties with sweet basil being the most popular. Basil contains flavonoids which protect the body’s cell structures from free radical damage, giving it anti-cancer benefits. For babies 7-9 months and up, try finely chopping some fresh basil and sprinkling on pastina with homemade tomato sauce and a dash of parmesan cheese. Basil pairs well with sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini and salmon.

Ginger is fragrant with a slightly sweet and hot flavor. There are many different varieties, Jamaican ginger is the most common. It is well known to provide relief from gastrointestinal ailments and can be helpful when your baby has gas, an upset stomach or if he suffers from motion sickness. Ginger is widely available both fresh and dried. Unpeeled fresh ginger will stay fresh in your refrigerator for about 2 weeks. A little ginger goes a long way so don't use too much. Ginger pairs well with most fruit, pumpkin, carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, rice, poultry and meat.

Turmeric is warm, earthy and a little bitter. It is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful when your baby has gas or swollen gums from teething. Turmeric has also been shown to decrease pain from rheumatoid arthritis and is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against childhood cancers, including leukemia. Turmeric pairs well with cauliflower, lentils, beef, lamb and rice.

Sage has a minty, earthy and slightly bitter flavor. It has been shown to boost the immune system and improve circulation. However, it is also known to dry up milk in lactating women, so if you are nursing or pumping, avoid eating sage. It pairs well with butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, beans, pork and poultry.

Cinnamon is my favorite spice, it's easy to use and tastes great with a large variety of foods. It has an aromatic, sweet and light spicy flavor. There are over 200 different varieties, with Ceylon being the most popular and widely available. Cinnamon has been shown to aid in circulation and digestion. Cinnamon is delicious with fruit, eggplant, parsnips, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash and oatmeal.

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