Archive for the ‘Bringing up Baby’ Category

Tempting food for toddlers- Any such thing is there?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

I was thinking of writing this post in January to say Happy New Year- guess it is sort of late now, but in any case I hope you all had a great new year. We welcomed the new year with lil R catching a cold so that explains my absence from the blogging scene. With the temperatures going down here in Texas, soups are really comforting for the winter and having a cold is the best reason one can give for making soups often :)

As I talk about toddler food, I think of the past two weeks-there is this sudden change in his eating habits, he has become so picky that anything I make is now being met with a hmmm-um huum- na-na. I wonder how these kids learn the word no so fast, and know the meaning of it too though I do not use the word No infront of lil R.

The biggest support I get in bringing up baby, if I have not declared(!!) it till today is from N(he has got no other choice anyways). He appreciates and supports the numerous recipes I make for lil R ranging from noodles,pasta,rice,upmas, idlis, dosas, mock pizzas on breads, soups, etc etc., I said he appreciates because sometimes the way babies were brought up is different when you compare the food babies were given 30 years ago and what we give now so I am drowned with advices from everyone which does not work with lil R. There is no point in forcing the food the child will not eat. It is easier to make foods that the little one loves and will eat. So more than anything else, what matters the most when you are struggling to tempt a toddler with food is unconditional support from your spouse :)

Lil R has his chart firm in his mind I guess- pooris are Ok, chappatis a big No no. Dosas are Ok, idlis are not! So I started making vegetable purees and make pooris with that puree instead of adding water to the dough. Same for dosas, vegetable dosas cut like the shape of noodles disappears faster!

For adults we say we eat with our eyes first- the aroma, presentation everything attracts but what to do for toddlers? This is the age they love to try different foods, so we have to go with it and offer variations. There have been days when I was clueless and wondered what to give him, but these are some variations that worked on days that made me feel like cooking for kids is a breeze!

– Making fruit infused milk- Blending cooked strawberries or cooked cherries(1 or two is enough) with milk in a blender and then straining it(to remove any pulp) to give him colored milk!

– Cooking vermicelli(semia) in different vegetable purees instead of plain water, same goes for pasta too.

-Flavoring his cereal with home made fruit blends like berries, apples, oranges, peaches,bananas, honey- instead of giving plain cereal. This is economical too, instead of buying flavored cereals, you can make different flavors at home! (Honey I started using after R was a year old)

-For protein including beans like cooked and mashed garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black eye peas instead of plain lentils with rice (cooking and mashing the beans is a must).

-Pastas: I cook it longer than adente and then sometimes saute it with onions, tomatoes, finely chopped carrots,broccoli,peas and top it with little bit of various indian masala powders(sometimes garam masala)- somehow he likes a pinch of spice hence the Indianized pasta! I call it pasta upma too(sounds terrible huh??). He gobbles it up faster than the usual pasta!

Finally the soup which started this post- a soup with milk. I started giving lil R only the broth, before we added pepper to our taste but now he likes the soup with milk, like how we serve grown ups. Sweetcorn is quite tricky while giving to toddlers so if you want to give the corn, just mash it with a spoon so that it does not get stuck in the toddler’s throat. Or better just blend it once to give it a chunky texture. This is a recipe I found in Kohl’s Lunch box recipe ideas and some recipes are so easy and delicious to make for toddlers also.


Carrot-1(Finely chopped)
Potato- 1 (Finely chopped)
Peas-optional- 3 tbsp
Sweet corn(Fresh or frozen)- 1/4 cup
Salt- to taste
Pepper- less a pinch- a dash is enough
Bay leaf-1
Olive oil- 1 tbsp
Milk- 1 cup
Water- 1 cup (I added vegetable bouillion cubes)


Heat olive oil in a pan and add bay leaf. Then stir fry onions in olive oil adding salt. Add other vegetables- carrots, peas,sweet corn, potatoes and stir fry well. Mix the boullion cube with a glass of warm water and pour it into the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes till vegetables are tender.

Pour required quantity of milk depending on whether you want the soup to be thick or thin. I usually add around 1 cup of whole milk and let it boil for another 2-3 minutes on a low flame. Once you get the desired consistency, switch it off. Serve warm with croutons or bread. For toddlers check the spice level so that it is not too hot or peppery. Remember to remove the bay leaf before serving kids.This is one good recipe to hide veggies apart from pasta and pizza I guess :)

Speaking of healthy food, Nithu has an ongoing event which specializes on baby food- Healthy food for kids event ,Some of the entires I want to send to the event are:

Preparing Baby Food-Stage 1

Food for 4-6 month old babies

Rasam Rice for Babies(Rice and Lentil with tomato)

Beginners rasam rice

After 9 months: Pasta with Vegetables

Yogurt and Fruit Blends

See you all soon with something sweet!

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Toddler Yogurt Blends

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Yogurt is very healthy and can be introduced to babies after 6-7 months. Here in the US, though we are told not to feed the baby cow’s milk till one year old,the pediatrician recommends giving yogurt after 6 months of age. Since I make yogurt at home, I started giving R yogurt made with low fat milk and then with 2% milk.

When I first started yogurt for lil R, I gave just one teaspoon(1/2 tsp water with 1/2 tsp yogurt) to see if he likes the taste. Then I moved on to giving idlis with yogurt,rice with yogurt and then made yogurt blends as a snack/meal. This is a tasty and indirect way to introduce many fruits too!

Thick Yogurt- 1/4 cup (Or 3-4 tbsp will be sufficient)
Apple- 1/4 of an apple(one slice is enough)
Salt- a dash


I usually pressure cook the finely chopped apple after removing the seed,core and the skin(just like how we make apple sauce). Then I mash the apple with a spoon.

Strain the yogurt with a cheese cloth or a fine filter(so that the yogurt is thick and not runny). I do not add the yogurt till I am about to give R his food as it will make the apple sauce thin.

When you are ready to feed, mix the thick yogurt with the apple sauce, add a dash of salt, mix well and feed your toddler!

Other options for fruit blends are:
Peaches(Peel the skin and cook) and mix with yogurt
Pears(Peel the skin,remove the core,cook) and mix with yogurt
Berries like Strawberries and blueberries(cooking is not required)
Banana(cooking is not required)

Check with your pediatrician and if you like you can also add a dash of honey to the blend! Gives it a new taste and at this age, toddlers love to taste new flavors and foods.

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Preparing baby food at home: Pumpkin Pasta for Crawlers

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

I was giving my son only dal rice with vegetable or rice and lentils or vegetable/fruit mash till I found a popular brand’s baby food products like ravioli and mac and cheese(Oh yeah) for crawlers.I checked out the consistency and I decided to make it at home. After all, Indian babies grow up with rice and lentils(paruppu sadam), Italian Mom’s would probably give pasta and Greek babies must have had a taste of pita bread as they start solids.

Besides, both the texture and taste is something new for the baby.At crawler stage, around 8 months, my little one wanted to try different things and there were days when he got bored of his usual food. Pasta, especially penne pasta, chopped in to tiny pieces(bite size that babies can chew) also helped us to make him pick and eat his food using his hands. When we eat dinner at the table, we also keep him next to us these days and give him little bites of what we eat so that he will get that taste. We usually place some well cooked, well chopped penne(as rings) in his tray table and my lil one will play with it for sometime and then try to pick it and put it in his mouth.

I double check these days before I write about what I cook for lil R.When people force me into accepting their ideas on bring up a baby- I wish I could say, yes, may be you knew what to do for your child and I know what is best for mine :D.So, if you like this idea of trying new foods, go for it!

This is how I started making pasta for lil R.

Penne pasta with squash and pumpkins:


Well cooked penne pasta- 6 pieces
Yellow squash/acron squash- 1″ cube
Yellow pumpkin- 1″ cube
Salt- to taste (a pinch is enough)

When I make pasta for us, I keep aside 6-7 pieces of penne and recook it in the same water till it is cooked through(not adente)

Since I keep rice in pressure cooker everyday, it is easy for me to cook both the 1″ cubes of squash and pumpkin in a separate bowl in the cooker itself. Then I mash it with a spoon till it is smooth. You can also steam and mash the veggies if you have a steamer/microwave.

Then you can try pasta in two ways:
1) Chop the penne in to fine rings. Add about 2 tbsp of water to the mashed vegetables, add salt and chopped pasta, stir well,check for temperature(not too hot)- and feed the baby(if they have teeth-after 9 months).

2) If you are worried that your baby may still choke on the finer pieces of pasta, blend the cooked penne and vegetables in the blender to a coarse paste, add salt to taste and serve as a pasta mash to the baby for starters, then slowly introduce them to newer textures by giving chopped pasta pieces. There is no point in giving mashed baby food to babies who can chew and have teeth. This is excellent finger food for babies and a fun way to help them master picking and holding techniques.

Always check the temperature before feeing any kind of food to the baby so that it is not too hot.

When I started making pasta, I made pumpkin flavored pasta, like how we have pasta in tomato sauce or pesto. Now that he likes the taste of pasta, I make spinach mash with pasta, mashed carrots with pasta, mashed sweet potatoes with pasta, yellow squash with pasta and so on. The options we have when we make baby food at home is endless, and it is fresh, compared to the processed food options sold in stores.

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Mock Rasam for babies

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Well, its quite tough to satisfy the little one’s taste buds. Try giving the same vegetable for two days and you will get an “ewwww” reply and a stubborn refusal to eat. Half the time when I cook for my lil one, I sit and write down what vegetables I gave and what I can give for the next day as though I am planning for a grand wedding.Here in the US, I am told not to give cow’s milk, citrus fruits, nuts and similar things that might be allergic to the baby till the baby is a year old.It became quite an issue when I was traveling in India this summer.I almost raided the kitchen’s of relatives houses I was staying in and was giving lectures on what to give, what not to give etc., for which I was met with a glare, what I could translate as” Haven’t we brought up kids that you are telling us what to do”?? and ” what do you think you ate when you grew up?? :)

I had two options either to accept the usual Indian diet or to defend my decisions, naturally I went for the second! But I guess,as it is very easy for the babies to pick up milk protein allergy or nut allergy, it is better to follow pediatrician’s advice and follow the meal plans suggested by them. Case in Point:my nephew is about 5 years old and still, every time he visits India, he gets a severe allergic reaction to milk and eggs.

So what else can we give as the baby grows up?I would say little amounts of what the grown ups eat- say a variations in vegetables along with one of these- dal rice, yogurt rice,ghee rice, khichdi, idlis, rice noodles and pongal- but with reduced spice and salt levels.This is one such beginner recipe, given to me by my mom, I should say it is a tested recipe as she gave it to my nephew as well. Since we cannot give tamarind or lemon rasam(both have citrus), this is a nice alternative way to introduce little bit of spice and tanginess to the diet, along with dal rice.

Moong dal/Toor dal- 1 tsp
Rice- 1 tbsp
Salt- a dash
one whole peppercorn
Ghee- a dash
Tomato- one slice or half a roma tomato.


There is nothing difficult in this recipe. Scoop the seeds out of tomato first.In a bowl, add rice, dal, tomato, peppercorn and just enough water. Cover and pressure cook(better keep it with our regular rice in the cooker). Once the pressure is released, remove the skin of the tomato(I am told not to give tomato seeds or skin, hence this method). Discard the peppercorn.

Blend the cooked rice, dal, tomato with a little bit of ghee and salt- not to a paste but like a mash. The consistency should be thinner than the rice we eat, but thicker than a vegetable mash.

Taste first for salt and temperature(it should not be piping hot) and feed the baby.

The why’s and why not’s:

I actually started giving moong dal to lil R first for a few weeks then switched over to toor dal.So, it is up to you to choose and use the dal you want.

Babies need little bit of spice, so we add whole peppercorns to get that flavor and we discard it so that the food is not spicy. Please also note not to add chilies to the baby’s food. Their sensitive stomach cannot handle these spices.

After this rasam, you can add any vegetable with the tomato, say a little cube of pumpkin or cauliflower or couple of leaves of spinach.Or even add a dash of low fat yogurt to it too!

If this baby gets bored by this routine, try mixed vegetables with rice like cauliflower and carrot, peas and squash, sweet potatoes and beans etc.,I am sure you can figure out lot more combinations with vegetables.

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