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As children, my sisters and I loved our vegetables. Yep, we were fruit and veg obsessed. As a little girl I used to love a salad sandwich and whilst Dad was away on business, Mum would ask the three of us what we wanted for dinner... “A big bowl of veges” was always our first pick. Yum, I can still smell them now!
As the childhood obesity rate continues to soar, I realize we were probably less of the ‘norm’. Somewhat puzzled I asked my mum how she did it. She said the trick was to introduce wholefoods at an early age. My grandmother also agreed and mentioned that we had simply lost touch with tradition that had served our grandparents and great grandparents so well for many years.
As I am yet to have children of my own, I began to pick the brains of my friends with their own families. Those children who loved fruit and vegetables were started on them at an early age. Those children who continue to resist, began their food journey along the processed path. As I started to see a connection, my work in nutrition led me here. How can I incorporate a nutritious wholefoods diet for babies, into a parent’s busy schedule? Lets kick it off with 6-9mth olds.
“From about 6 months, a baby will begin to require more than just breast milk for optimum nutrition. If you look at breast milk, 60% of its kilojoules come from fat. Complete protein, easy to digest carbohydrates, antibodies and beneficial bacteria make up the rest. As a rule, first foods for babies should follow along these lines. “ Jude Blereau
Because a very young baby lacks the digestive enzymes required to digest processed carbohydrates, grains and grain flours should be reserved for a few weeks after the child has started to digest solids. Babies of this age should be dining on puree full of good fats (coconut oil, free-range organic egg yolks, ghee, even liver and brains – yep! Ask your grandparents, it was a staple back in the day) and simple root vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots and beetroot. Fruit purees should be fresh and once your baby has developed a taste for real fruits, you can begin to incorporate sheep’s or goat’s yoghurt and coconut milk into the mix for good fats. I will touch more on these yoghurts next week.
To get the ball rolling, I have included some recipes below.
1 free-range organic egg
Place egg in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes (or a little longer if it is a large egg). Place in an egg cup and cut off the top. The yolk should be warm and slightly runny. Spoon out the yolk and discard the white. Add the cooked yolk to vegetable purees to offer good fats and proteins.
Autumn Harvest Puree - Jude Blereau
100g carrot, finely diced
60g parsnip, peeled, core removed and diced
½ green or red apple, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1-teaspoon ghee or coconut oil
Steam the veggies and apple together for 20mins or until soft. Transfer to a bowl and while they are still hot, add 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid and ghee or coconut oil. Puree in a small food processor until smooth, adding extra liquid if necessary.
1 small ripe banana
Puree in a small food processor until smooth. Once your baby has grown accustomed to the taste, you can mix in other pureed fruits to vary the flavor – mango and papaya for example. You can also try adding a little coconut milk or avocado for creaminess and good fats.
Peach Puree - Jude Blereau
3 ripe peaches
Drop the peaches into a saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seed and cut the flesh into small pieces.
Put the flesh into a small saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and cook on a very low heat, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes or until the peach is soft. Check regularly to ensure your peaches have enough water to simmer. Add accordingly. Puree the mixture in a small food processor until smooth.
Add good fats as mentioned above.
I would aim to avoid processed and packaged purees for the reason they can contain additives and preservatives even the adult digestive system struggles to digest. Pureed food jars also have been heavily processed, reducing the overall nutritional value of the contents. We want to provide these bubs with high quality delicious nutrition, fresh is always best.