Weaning recipes #1: accidental Morroccan lamb and cous cous

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We’ve just had just a busy Saturday morning, in and out of the house getting ready for Ringwood Carnival, my eldest’s 7th birthday, a 40th birthday party in London, drama class, and of course baby stuff which is never ending and keeps you busy without you ever actually achieving very much.

I had sausages for my husband and daughter for a quick lunch before going out to the carnival. But nothing for my now nearly 9 month old. The sausages were organic. but as they are high in salt, aren’t a suitable food for babies.*

I do usually try and do the same meal for the whole family but with so much going on it wasn’t possible and I had to rustle something up quickly out of what I had in the fridge. If I had had a chance to buy the ingredients the Morroccan lamb would have  included with some chickpeas – to make the meat go further and  some more vegetables as well as some dried apricots or sultanas.

The dish was not a great success at Saturday lunchtime. Either because my daughter is teething, or the excitement in the house, not much was eaten. I tried again for tea, and she ate most of it happily.

The evidence suggests that you have to get babies/children to try foods about 15 times before they will accept it. Though I do think that if a child has a definite dislike of a food or flavour and they are good at trying new foods and like most, then its probably best not to push it. But of course it’s hard when you’ve spent time and energy making something only for it to be rejected.

New foods

Up until around 18 months babies are open to trying new foods. Research shows that giving a new food once in the first year can double a baby’s intake of that food when a parent offers it again at mealtime.**

When toddlers start to walk and become more mobile, some develop neophobia (a fear of new foods). Academics think that young children have evolved in this way to prevent them from eating toxic or poisonous substances that they might come across in their immediate environment. So any food that they do not recognise as ‘normal’ is seen as a potential danger and is a means to protect them from being poisoned. It tends to peak at between 2 and 6 years old but older children can be neophobic , particularly if parents/carers limit the variety of foods they eat.***

So 1 have about a year to introduce as many different foods as possible. And as much as possible I buy in season produce so that means, like my eldest this baby will learn which foods are in season.

To make about 5 portions you will need ****…

1 tablespoon olive oil

200g Organic lamb mince (I made lamb meatballs with the rest of the lamb mince)

1 celery stick

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 small onion

half a green pepper (or any other pepper)

100g mushrooms

300g tinned tomatoes

100g cous cous

How to…

Dice all the vegetables into small enough pieces for a 9 month old baby to manage. This meal is suitable for babies from 7 months. You can thin it for younger babies with your baby’s usual milk (breast or formula milk) and puree.

Put the cous cous in a bowl and add 150ml boiling water, stir and leave for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the spices and stir then add the lamb mince, and cook til brown. Then add the rest of the vegetables for a few minutes, until softened. Then add the tinned tomatoes. stir and simmer for 10 minutes, and thin a little water or baby’s usual milk, then serve with about 40g cous cous.

I served this meal with some cooked carrots and green beans.

My eldest happily ate it the next day too.

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Storage

Cool rapidly and refrigerate in an airtight container. Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen for 2 months.

*The maximum recommended amount of salt for babies up to 12 months is less than 1g salt a day (less than 0.4g sodium). Babies who are breastfed get the right amount of salt through breast milk. Infant formula contains a similar amount of salt to breast milk. When you start introducing solid foods, remember not to add salt to the foods you give to your baby because their kidneys cannot cope with it. You should also avoid giving your baby ready-made foods that are not made specifically for babies, such as breakfast cereals, because they can also be high in salt (from the NHS website).

**Reference quoted in a section I contributed to  Soil Association’s Nursery Food Report : Birch et al (1998). Development of eating behaviours among children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 101, 539-549. Quoted in Dovey TM et al. Food neophobia and ‘picky/fussy eating in children: A review. Appetite (2007) doi:10.1016/j.appet,2007,09.009.

***Reference again quoted in Soil Association’s Nursery Food Report : Rozin P, (1979) Preference and affect in food selection in JHA Kroeze (Ed). Preference, behaviour and chemoreception (pp 289-297) .

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