(Suitable for kids over 8 months)
'Superfoods' has become such a buzzword that it can be hard to know what fact is and what is fiction. When it comes to making the most nutritious choices for the youngest members of our family, the following foods are truly super, easy to use, easy to get – they are all nutrient-dense, rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals, proteins and/or essential fatty oils. I have simplified my ingredient list a lot as a new mother but it’s always from a conscious supplier or our garden when possible. Despite being mostly plant based myself, I decided not to raise my son on a vegan diet only, yet to educate him about the importance of it and its benefits for our planet, allowing him to make his own decision about his diet later in his life. Introducing your little ones to some, or all of these foods at an early age can help create the best possible eating habits and food choices in later life. In no means I would call myself an expert in baby food, but these are the samples my son Luka enjoys.
I use reusable pouches when on the road. I fill them with precooked mashed veggie, quinoa, and then store them in esky …and mix them on the road with what we also eat or together. I must say, I have also used organic food pouches on the road, but if you have some time to do a simple prep, it will cost you less with less waste. The fantasy is endless so use this as a sample and start experimenting.
Coconut oil is an excellent addition to a baby’s diet as it contains lauric acid, also found in human breast milk, which can boost the immune system, improve digestion and balance the blood sugar. Coconut oil raises HDL good cholesterol and because of its high smoke point, makes for a great “high heat” cooking oil. Fresh coconut meat is an excellent addition to any smoothie, puree or it can be eaten as a finger food. The flour can be used to create delicious grain-free and gluten-free breads and muffins. Coconut yogurt is simple to use for breakfast with porridge or with any fruit mash.
Chia Seeds, Hemp Seeds
Chia seeds contain a higher ratio of antioxidants than blueberries and have more calcium than whole milk. Chia and hemp seeds are very high in Omega-3s, magnesium, fibre, iron, potassium, and protein. Introduce them to babies from around 7- 8 months onwards. Perfect when added to porridge, soups, muffins, rissoles, chia pudding and smoothies.
Quinoa, unlike other grains, is a complete protein making it a true superfood. It’s high in lysine (an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair), manganese, magnesium and iron. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain and is a great alternative to rice and oat porridge.
Oats are a rich source of plant-based proteins, fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants. Oats contain a powerful antioxidant called avenanthramide that is known to promote heart health. They digest slowly keeping kids full for longer and release a steady stream of energy. Oats are therefore the best option for breakfast. Giving children the right start to their day.
Yes, beets. We all know beetroots are good for health. But many of us don’t take this root vegetable seriously. Beets can be a smart addition to your child’s diet. Not only do beets impart a lovely pink and red colour to food that is quite eye-catching for the little ones, beets are also packed in nutrition. They are a source of simple carbohydrates needed for energy, and many vitamins and minerals like B-vitamins, potassium, iron, manganese, and Vit C. In order to get maximum absorption of the iron from beets pair them with other Vit C rich foods like lemons, tomatoes, etc.
Hempseeds are a rich source of plant-based protein, healthy fats, vitamins like Vit E and minerals like phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. They are considered a complete protein source, which means that they provide all the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are not produced in the body and need to be acquired through the diet. Once again adding a tablespoon in your child’s porridge or smoothie can help with their nutrient consumption for the day.
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. They are especially great for babies, as they help oxygenate the blood and promote a healthy immune system. Choose fresh or frozen organic and locally grown where possible. Always wash berries before serving. Introduce at approximately six months.
Avocados are rich in healthy, good fats. In fact, avocados are the only fruit apart from olives to contain monounsaturated fats.
Gone are the days of fat-phobia but why exactly are these fats good for us? Healthy fats help you absorb essential fat-soluble nutrients (such as vitamin E), reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, help maintain heart health and promote healthy skin.
Vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts and spinach are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre and calcium. These essential micronutrients are needed to fight infections and boost baby’s immune system. Introduce spinach and kale, mixed with other vegetables as a second stage solid. Serve with healthy fats such as coconut oil or olive oil to enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Sweet potatoes are perfect first foods as they contain vitamins, minerals and are high in fibre. They help to stabilise blood sugar levels and keep little stomachs feeling fuller for longer periods of time. Encourage your baby to enjoy sweet potatoes rather than white potatoes. Serve from four months.
Lentils are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They're also a great source of plant-based protein and fibre. Iron and zinc are especially important for breast feed babies post 6 months as they may not get these nutrients from milk as much.
And here is a simple recipe for a baby-friendly cake! As simple and healthy as it gets. We spent Luka’s 1st birthday on the road, I made this cake before our getaway. You might be surprised that this recipe is actually made with simple ingredients. If not, the few “specialty” ingredients are easy to find at any major grocery store! We had it on sunrise on the beach, for breakfast. It stores well too.
GF vanilla bake with rosella flower swirl
For the vanilla cake, here’s what you’ll need:
• 2 teaspoons vinegar
• 3/4 cup coconut nectar (low glycaemic index) for fructose free child, use brown rice syrup
• 1/4 cup coconut sugar
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• vegan egg replacement
• 1/2 cup coconut oil (or another oil of your choice, olive oil is also very nice)
• 2 cups organic gluten-free all-purpose flour. I used a blend of white rice flour, brown rice flour, organic tapioca flour, potato starch, potato flour, and cellulose. If you are grain free, you can use mix of almond, coconut, green banana flour...
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• for the swirl I used 2 tblsp of dried native rosella flower powder which has a nice sour flavour. You can use any berries which are delicious and in season such as puréed raspberries, blueberries or strawberries.
1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with olive oil. If you like the cake to be bread style bake, then use banana bread tint. I used that for the travel, easy to store a cake that size.
2. Combine the almond milk and vinegar in a glass. Let sit for 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sweeteners, vanilla, egg replacement and oil.
4. Add the gluten-free flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the bowl. Pour in the almond milk mixture and stir everything until combined.
for swirl: Take ¼ cup of the cake butter out and mix with rosella powder or pureed berries.
5. Pour the batter into the pans, then top up with the rosella (berry) butter and swirl / slowly mix in the butters together with a spoon. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife pulls out clean from the centre. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then place a plate on top of the pan and invert to remove the cake.
6. Slice any style and enjoy!
thank you jana brunclikova
bhsc naturopath & plantbased chef