Weaning post #5: An apple a day?

Everyone knows apples are good for you and British Heart Foundation researchers at Oxford University have put the Apple a day proverb to the test in research published in the BMJ this week.

Drawing on existing data and using mathematical models they assessed the affects of eating an apple a day, compared to taking statins, in the over 50’s.

They worked out that prescribing an apple a day (with estimated 70% compliance which is optimistic) to all adults over 50 in the UK would prevent about 8,500 deaths a year from heart attacks and stroke and have fewer side effects than statins. While prescribing statins to people who are not already taking them would prevent a similar number (9,400).

Though they are careful to point out that people who are taking statins already shouldn’t stop.

They also estimated that prescribing statins would lead to 1,000 extra cases of muscle disease and over 10,000 extra diagnoses of diabetes.

I know which I would opt for.

Nutrition

Apples are high in vitamin c, soluble and insoluble fibre. The latter gives them a lower GI which means they release their sugar into the blood much slower than other fruits (38 compared to 65-80 for melons)

They’re also a rich source of phytochemicals, many of which have antioxidant properties – which means the neutrilize free radicals which cause ageing and degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer.

And so it follows that there are studies that show that people who eat apples are less likely to suffer from a stroke. Eating apples regularly was also found to reduce “bad” cholesterol in women, the risk of type II diabetes and may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers disease.

Babies

So how does this news relate to weaning? The first 5 years of life a crucial in setting eating habits for life. If your baby or toddler eats apples then chances are they will eat them when they are adults. Within those 5 years the first 18 months is probably the time when your child is most open to new foods.

Raw

Raw apples are one of the foods that baby could easily choke on, because they are small and hard.

A good way to give raw apple to your baby is to give a whole apple with the skin on, with a few chunks bitten out by you so it’s easier to gnaw on. They will be able to bite into it, but because their grasp is not strong they will not be able to bite off big chunks.*

You could also try grated apple.

Steamed or boiled

Core an apple, peel and slice into rings and then steam or boil for 2-3 minutes to soften (then putting under a cold running tap to stop the cooking and to cool) is a great way to give apple as a finger food.*

Apple rings
Apple rings

They make a good snack food to take out and about, and as a pudding you can serve with full fat yogurt.

Baked apples

Once your baby is about 1 year and you’re able to brush their teeth. You can make baked apples. Cooking apples are called Bramley’s. They are less sweet than eating apples so you need to add a little natural sweetness.

The reason I say to wait until your baby is about a year as you will then be able to brush their teeth to protect them against dental caries. It’s worth remembering that it’s not recommended to give any added sugars to babies.

To bake the apple, core it. I put foil in the base of the hole. Then pile in dried fruit and add a teaspoon of maple syrup (the foil keeps the syrup in). Cook in the oven in a baking tray (at about 180-200 degrees C or gas mark 5) for about 20 minutes and serve with custard.*

Baked apples with maple syrup, dried fruit and custard
Baked apples with maple syrup, dried fruit and custard

And what about you?

Babies learn eating habits from their parents. So don’t forget to eat your apple a day too.

Which reminds me of the great Michael Pollen Food Rule : If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re probably not hungry.

So at this festive time when we tend to over-consume, try to balance the treats with the healthy stuff and before you reach for that mince pie eat an apple first. Have a Merry Christmas and a great 2014. I’m off to eat my apple.

*Remember to feed your baby safely. Never leave them while they are eating, have them sitting upright (if they are tilted back this increases the risk of choking). Do a first aid course so you know what to do if your child chokes.

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Meatballs and pasta

This is the recipe daughter number 1 made in the Kids Kitchen at the Abergavenny Food Festival last year.

It doesn’t take long to make a batch of meatballs, and if you freeze some of them, they defrost quickly for midweek meals.

I have sometimes bought organic meatballs, but it’s so much cheaper to make your own. And I have noticed that some of the non-organic meatballs have water added as well as salt and additives – so not only are you paying more for someone else to make your meatballs but you’re also paying for water (and a slightly lower protein content).

My youngest is about 8 months in this photo. You can just about see that I made the meatballs into longer sausage shapes for her to hold and eat. Younger babies haven’t yet learnt to hold things using pincer grasp so if you are going to serve as a finger food you need to make them long enough for them to grasp and have enough meat on the end to eat too. I tried this a couple of times but found a lot of the meat got wasted/not eaten so it was easier to put in with the pasta and sauce. I do usually give some of the pasta as finger food as she enjoys eating it this way, and the 7 year old does too now.

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Sometimes if I am using a batch of meatballs from the freezer I  just chop them up with the pasta for baby, for spoon-feeding along with some veggie’s as a finger food. If you are pureeing rather than chopping food (for younger babies) and you don’t have an older child you might just like to stick with spaghetti bolognese rather than going to the bother of making meatballs.

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You will need…

…for the meatballs
500g organic (ideally lean) beef or lamb mince
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil (but if you don’t have any fresh herbs use a tablespoon of dried mixed herbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan

… how to make the meatballs
Mix all the ingredients together (except the olive oil which is for frying) and shape into small balls, the size of cherry tomatoes. The recipe from Kid’s Kitchen gives details of how to steam cook the meatballs, which is healthier. But I have to admit to shallow frying in a the olive oil. turning regularly to brown all over (don’t over-brown them though).

Use what you need and freeze the rest between parchment/grease proof paper in airtight containers. They’ll keep in the fridge for a couple of days and in the freezer for a couple of months.

…for the tomato sauce
tablespoon of olive oil
1 garlic clove finely chopped
handful of fresh basil, finely chopped (or 1 tablespoon of dried mixed herbs if that’s all you have in)
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
tablespoon of tomato puree

Heat the olive oil, add the garlic clove and before it starts turning brown add the dried herbs (if using) and chopped and pureed tomatoes, stir and simmer for 10 minutes, add the meatballs 5 minutes before serving along with the fresh herbs (if using). Serve with pasta and a little fresh parmesan.

In the Summer I sometimes make the tomato sauce with garlic, onion and red pepper, adding the tomatoes after they have softened.

Portion sizes

These portion sizes are a guide to help you know roughly how much to give. I don’t weigh out portion sizes for every meal. But by weighing portion sizes out a few times I’ve learnt to estimate portion sizes by sight:

7-9 months: 30g meatballs to 70g tomato sauce and 20g vegetables as finger food
10-12 months: 40g meatballs to 80g tomato sauce and 30g vegetables as finger food
1-4 years: 50g meatballs to 100g tomato sauce and 1 x 40g portions of vegetables

Nutrition bits

You can use either lamb or beef mince. Opt for British, ideally organic. Whilst lamb and beef is usually grassfed, buying organic ensures that the animal is grassfed as it’s integral to the legal organic standards.

Meat from grassfed has higher levels of omega 3’s. Compared to grain fed animals, the saturated fat from grass fed animals have higher levels of the saturated fat, stearic acid, which does not increase cholesterol levels and conversely has lower levels of the two saturated fats that cause increased cholesterol (myristic and palmitic). Grassfed meat also has been found to have higher levels of anitoxidants, Vitamin’s A and E and glutathione and superoxide dismutase. Both these meats are also very good sources of protein, iron and zinc.

Red meat does get a bad press, but it can make a valuable contribution to a balanced healthy diet – especially for younger children – who are at higher risk of iron and zinc deficiency. It’s also worth remembering that most studies of beef consumption in the US, will be based on what most people eat which is intensively reared cattle on feedlots where the cattle eat grain and in particular maize, which causes all sorts of health problems for the animals and also means the meat has a less healthy profile compared to grassfed.

What’s for lunch #2: Cheese omelette

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Preamble

This is the second in a series of quick, simple, tasty and above all healthy lunches for you to share with your baby and/or toddler.

I love eggs. There, I’ve said it. I learned back in University in 1999 (eek) that scientists had got it wrong all along – just because eggs contained cholesterol didn’t mean they raise a person’s cholesterol levels. It just goes to show that science and nutrition science in this instance is ever changing. What we think is the truth now may well change with greater understanding, through more research in the future.

Nutrition bits

Where to start… well they contain good amounts of protein, vitamins A, D and E,  iron, zinc, B vitamins, particularly B12 and riboflavin and folate. They also provide high levels of minerals including iodine, selenium, phosphorus and some zinc and iron too.

You will need…

  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cheese
How to…
Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork until smooth.
Heat a non-stick frying pan and add the oil. When the oil is hot, pour the eggs into the pan.
Using a wooden fork or a spatula and working in a circular motion, move the eggs in the pan around, while at the same time moving the pan back and forth across the heat. Allow the eggs to start coagulating.
Stop moving the pan, let the bottom of the omelette begin to cook through and brown a little
If you are in a rush – and/or need to check on baby – pop the pan under the grill to cook the top of the omelette.
Sprinkle cheese on one side of the omelette, put it back under the grill until the cheese has melted and then fold over.
Tip the omelette onto a plate. Cut fingers of omelette for baby/toddler and the rest is for you.
These photos are from a couple of months ago. You can see I served with summer vegetables. Now I would serve with cooked vegetables and/or low salt/low sugar baked beans for baby/toddler.
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We had omelette today too – we had just come back from a baby/toddler group and I didn’t have very much in food wise. I put chopped parsley in the pan – just before the eggs. Hopefully, by adding herbs and other green vegetables to dishes, I won’t be asked “what’s that green stuff?” at future mealtimes.
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Portion sizes

You’ll know if your following this blog I refer to Caroline Walker Trust CHEW! portion size guidance. I don’t weigh at every mealtime but I do often as it helps me to learn to estimate portion sizes visually.

*9 month olds: I gave 3 x 20g finger portions of omelette to baby, and about 40g baked beans(mash/chop the baked beans). If you’re giving other veg as finger food then give about 20g

10-12 month olds: 4 x 20g finger portions of omelette, 50g baked beans, or 30g veg as finger food

1-4 year olds: 5 x 20g finer portions of omelette, 6og baked beans or 2 x 40g portions of veg

And you: you get whatever is leftover –  and try to have two portions of veg (that’s 2 x 80g of vegetables)

*As have said on previous posts, from experience I don’t think younger babies will eat enough finger food to meet their nutrient requirements, so am recommending this for older babies.

What’s for lunch: Sardine fishcakes

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Sardine fishcakes

Preamble

I am going to try and post some ideas for quick, easy and cheap meals to share with your baby and/or toddler at lunchtime in a series (if I manage to come up with enough ideas) called “What’s for lunch”.

Evidence shows us that children are influenced by what their parents eat and drink, this makes sense (science often tells us what we already know). So it follows that parents can have a positive or negative effect on what they’re children eat depending on their own diet. Eating  together also helps babies to learn that mealtimes are social times.

This recipe uses  breadcrumbs – don’t to throw unused loaves away, instead cut off the crusts and put them into the food processor to make breadcrumbs which you can freeze for ages.

I think fishcakes are easier for babies to handle and eat about 10 months (depending on baby’s food handling skills it may be slightly earlier than this).

Nutrition bits

This recipe uses leftover mashed potato and includes tinned sardines which are a great source of omega 3’s, protein, iron, zinc calcium and vitamin D . Also, as they are lower down the food chain, compared to tuna and marlin, they have lower levels of mercury compared to those bigger fish.

An interesting thing happens to mashed potato when it’s left to cool. Its starch structure changes in a way that lowers its GI so that energy is released more slowly into the bloodstream. Potatoes usually have a high GI (as much as 88) and research shows that it can be lowered a GI of 56 if it is allowed to cool.

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You will need…

160g Mashed potato (see portion sizes below to work out what you need)
120g Tin of sardines in olive oil drained*
Chopped parsley (if you have some in – otherwise don’t worry)
1 egg beaten (use milk if your baby has an egg allergy)
Plain flour
Breadcrumbs

Vegetables to serve

How to…

Drain the sardines and mash them well with a fork – no need to remove the bones as they are small and soft.
Mix the sardines with the potatoes and chopped parsley if you are using it.
Form  into 4 small cakes for babies (I made two – see photo – which were a little too big).
Put the frying pan on a medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil.**

Once you’ve got the shape and size you want dip the cakes in flour, then egg and then breadcrumbs.
Fry the cakes for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Portion sizes

The portion sizes I use are from the  CHEW! guidance which is based on recommended intakes for energy and nutrients. They are meant as a guide so don’t worry if you’re baby doesn’t eat all their food that they won’t get enough nutrients.

For 10-12month baby : 40g sardines (about 1 fillet) to 60g potato plus 30g vegetables

1-4 year olds : 50g sardines to 80g potatoes plus 40g vegetables

And for you – there should be about 60g of sardines so mix with about 100g of potatoes and serve with two 80g portions of vegetables.

For babies 7-9 months

For younger babies (7-8 months) I would recommend using the ingredients (without making the fishcakes for baby), pureeing, mixing with baby’s usual milk and serving with the vegetables as finger food.  If your baby is able to eat their meal as whole food well – for my baby this is around 10 months – but your’s may be able to do this younger, then make the fish cakes rather than puree. Based on my experience, younger babies are not able to feed themselves well enough in this way, so are not able to get enough protein, iron, to meet their dietary needs. Portion sizes for this age group are 30g sardines to 50g potato and 20g vegetables.

Allergies

If your baby has an egg allergy then dip in milk rather than egg to bind the breadcrumbs
If your baby has a gluten intolerance or allergy, dust in gluten free flour and use breadcrumbs from gluten free bread. You can try just dusting in flour too however the fishcakes don’t hold together so well and can be a bit too squidgy.

Postscript added 21 November 2013

Make extra of these and you can take them with you for days out – in a lunchbox – remember to keep them chilled though. I have tried freezing fishcakes before, but have found it doesn’t work well.

*Someone asked me whether they could use sardines in tomato sauce. And I dont see why not for adults but, having looked at the ingredients list, the sardines I have seen in tomato sauce have salt added, so aren’t a good option for babies, or really children, ideally.

**Ideally the fishcakes can be baked at 200°c/ 400°f/gas mark 6 on an oiled baking try for 10 minutes (turning once) – baking is healthier than frying but I didn’t have time to wait for the oven to heat up.

Autumn squash spaghetti bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is such a family staple in the UK. I can remember my mum’s in the 70’s. I don’t think it had any herbs, except a bayleaf or two. When I first left home, I made my spag bol the same way, but over the years it’s gone through so many changes.

In the Summer I put peppers and courgettes in but come the Autumn, they go out of season. So I wanted to try something Autumnal so thought of trying squash or pumpkin along with red lentils.

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As this was the first time I made it this way I wasn’t sure whether the lentils would work, so I only used 50g. I think you could increase the amount of lentils and decrease the amount of beef mince. Adding pulses or beans to meat dishes makes them go further and therefore cheaper. Lentils and beans are good sources of protein, complex carbohydrates and valuable minerals and vitamins.

I am going to try and experiment a bit with the lentils and mince ratio, am sure you could make it with just the lentils (so it would be a vegetarian/vegan) dish but would need to look at whether to add stock as the lentils absorb alot of liquid. When I get a chance I will add to this post on that.


Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped
500g organic British beef mince (ideally lean)
1 onion diced
1 stick of celery washed, top and tailed and diced
1 carrot top and tailed and diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or dried if that’s what you’ve got)*
1 squash**
200ml low salt stock or water
1 tablespoon mild smoked paprika
1 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
Pasta (of course, though I have to say I’m not keen on pasta, while the rest of the family is, so I often have puy lentils with my pasta sauce instead of pasta)

How to…

Heat your oven to  200°c/ 400°f/gas mark 6.
Wash and cut the squash into chunky slices, cutting out the seeds in the middle (which you can roast separately in olive oil as a snack).
Mix with two tablespoons of olive oil and rub with smoked paprika then roast in a preheated tray for 20 minutes until just browning at the edges.
Allow to cool and then cut off the skin and chop into smaller bite size chunks.
Put to one side to add to the spag bol sauce later.

To make the spag bol

Sweat the onion, carrot and celery in a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
When they are becoming translucent add the garlic.
Keep stirring so that the vegetables don’t brown.
Then add the mince, breaking it up, but not too much so you keep some texture.
Cook the mince until browned, stirring often.
Add the red lentils and thyme and cook for a few more minutes.
Stir in the tinned tomatoes and the tomato puree and stock or water.
Simmer for about 25 minutes or so, until the lentils are soft.
About 10 minutes towards the end of cooking add the squash and stir well.
Put the water on for the pasta and cook.
Serve with parmesan and side salad or veggie sticks.
Make sure it’s cooled down enough for your little ones.

For babies

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If  your weaning, and you don’t want to introduce gluten to your baby’s diet yet or because baby has a possible allergy or intolerance, you can use pasta made from quinoa or corn.

This recipe is suitable from about 7 months onwards, once simple first foods have been introduced. I do try as much as possible to make the same meals for the whole family, including baby, as this keeps life simple. There is no reason why babies can’t have the same as long as no salt is added or hot spices used.

For younger babies, the dish can be thinned a little with babies usual milk and then pureed to suitable consistency. From about 10 months onwards it just needs a little chopping – depending on what your baby is used to. I usually serve spoon feeding dishes like this alongside finger food. You could save some of the squash slices for your baby to have as finger food. I also give some of the pasta as a finger food.

Portion sizes

Just to give a guide on recommended portion sizes, I use Caroline Walker Trust’s CHEW! guidance. This portion size guidance was designed for early years settings, and is useful for parents too. They are based on recommended intakes for babies.

So for 7-9 month olds give about 60g of bolognese and 50g pasta with 20g veggie finger food
10-12 months : 70g bolognese and 50g pasta with 30g veggie finger food
1-5 years : 180g bolognese and 120g pasta with two 40g portions of veggies

*You can freeze the fresh herbs you buy – just put them in a sealed freezer bag.

**I used a Harlequin Squash which was about 1 kg

Weaning recipe #3 and family meal: Last of the Summer bean stew

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We had this this for supper a few nights ago. The photo above is of the leftovers we had for lunch the next day. I didn’t have time to chop the stew up into smaller pieces for my baby (this stew works best with chunky vegetables) – I am always in a last minute rush when I make meals – so I gave her chickpeas and haricot beans and some veg to eat with her fingers along with the stew which had been briefly whizzed.

Now that she’s 9 months old she’s really honed her pincer grasp and sits absorbed at the dinner table picking up small pieces of food. Some of those pieces of food she casually drops on the floor but most do end up being eaten.

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Peppers and courgettes are only just in season in the UK but not for long. I  buy organic (as much as possible), local when I can, and definitely British. Buying by season does make it harder in those Winter months when you’re missing out on salads and summer fruits and it does make you really appreciate produce when it comes into season again.

Ingredients

For the stew
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 red onions cut into wedges
Red and yellow pepper cut into 1 cm wedges
2 courgettes cut into batons
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
Half a tin of 400g haricot beans (optional)*
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato purée
Handful of fresh basil chopped
zest from one lemon
200ml very low salt stock (not for babies) or water (for babies)

For the cous cous
200g whole grain (if you can find it) cous cous
300 ml water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

How to…

In a pan on a medium heat cook the onion, courgette, peppers and garlic for about 5 minutes, until softened.
Add the smoked paprika and tomato purée stir and cook for a few minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and stock or water and cook for 20 minutes.
Zest the lemon and put to one side.

To make the cous cous, mix together 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, stir into the cous cous, then add and mix in the 300ml of water.
Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Then fluff up with a fork.

Now add the beans and chickpeas, lemon and basil to the stew and and cook for 10 more minutes then serve.

Make sure you allow it to cool enough. For babies, either chop into smaller pieces or whizz a few times with the blender.  For younger babies (+6 months)  thin with a little of baby’s usual milk to consistency required.

Portion sizes

The recommended portion sizes (from Caroline Walker Trust):

Babies from 7-9 months:  80g of stew / 50g of couscous with 20g vegetable finger food

Babies 10-12 months: 90g of stew /60g couscous with 30g vegetable finger food

1-4 year olds : 115g stew / 80g couscous with 40g vegetable finger food

5-11 year olds: 140g stew / 120g couscous with 80g vegetable finger food

*I didn’t want to add the whole tin as thought would be too much – but might be fine – I used the rest in a beef stew a couple of days later.

Weaning recipe #2: Salmon and creme frâiche pasta pesto

Salmon creme fraiche pasta pesto

I came up with this recipe when my 7 year old was having salmon with new potatoes and vegetables.

I am weaning using a mixture of finger foods and purees/mashed/chopped dishes (more details in another blog post to follow).

This recipe works just as well with chicken instead of salmon (e.g. leftovers from Sunday lunch).

As shop-bought pesto has salt added it’s not ideal for babies. So I whizzed up my own – it doesn’t take long if you have a hand held blender or food processor. You can freeze what you don’t use in ice cube trays or it keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I used pine nuts, but if you or your partner have food allergies, eczema or asthma, your baby is at a higher risk of having a food allergy, so make pesto without the pinenuts. (see the NHS website for more information on foods that can cause food allergies). And of course, if you know your baby already has an allergy or has eczema or asthma then just exclude the pine nuts from the recipe.

When you’re preparing the basil do it alongside your baby if you can, so they can be involved in the food preparation. If you grow you own, they could “help” you to pick the leaves and help to wash them. Or just being able to explore the leaves through touch, smell and best of all, taste. The leaves are quite big so it’s a good idea to tear them into small, manageable pieces and at around this age, babies are developing their pincer hold – as shown in the photo below.

Exploring basil

Ingredients for pesto (Makes about 20 x teaspoon portion)


50g basil (washed)
6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
15g (1 tbsp) pine nuts
30g (2 tbsps) parmesan
Quarter of a garlic clove

How to…

Put in food processor and whizz until quite but not completely smooth – see photo below.

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Ingredients for the pasta dish (makes 3 portions)

100g (approx) Organic or wild Alaskan salmon fillet* (you need 30g cooked salmon per portion**)
Lemon wedge
150g cooked pasta*** (usually equal to 50g uncooked weight)
45g (3 level tablespoons) half fat organic creme frâiche
15g (3 teaspoons) pesto

How to…

Bake the salmon fillet in foil for 20 minutes at about 200˚C / gas mark 6 / 400˚F for 15-20 minutes (until it flakes easily).
Meanwhile cook the pasta as per instructions.
Run a little cold water through the pasta so it doesn’t stick together and put in a bowl.
If you are using larger pasta shapes or spaghetti then chop it up into mangeable pieces.
Once you have taken the salmon out of the oven, allow it to cool and remove the skin (if you haven’t already)
Break the salmon into small pieces with your fingers that are easy to eat.
Take your time as this way you can make sure you’ve removed all the bones.
Put all the ingredients into a bowl together with a squeeze lemon juice and stir.
If you are making this for a younger baby (7 or 8 months) then thin a little with baby’s usual milk and whizz briefly with blender to make to the consistency required.
Divide into three portions (each about 100g).****
Serve with two types of seasonal vegetables as finger food.

*Make sure that you are buying salmon from sustainable sources by using the Marine Stewardship Council’s product finder on their website.

**30g portion of cooked fish for 7-9 month olds, about 40g portion for 10-12 month olds, for children between 1-4 years about 45g per portion and 5-11 year olds about 90g (all from the Caroline Walker Trust CHEW! Guidance which you can download online)

***I’ve used orzo pasta as this is easy for babies to eat at around 8-9 months and does not need chopping. Any other pasta is fine too, it just needs chopping up.

****It will keep in the fridge for two days. You can freeze portions too and it will keep in the freezer for about 2 months.

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.