Here’s the problem: sometimes baby food can be, to put it plainly… a bit plain. Baby rice, banana purée, baby rice, mashed squash… and did we mention baby rice?
Of course, these foods aren’t unhealthy – but contrary to what many parents believe, babies often enjoy trying a much wider range of flavours. And letting them try a wide variety of healthy foods now may help keep them from getting hooked later on processed snack foods that aren’t good for them at all. That’s why our Plum recipes are all designed to be the very opposite of bland and boring!
The old advice about waiting until age 1 or later to introduce potentially allergenic foods no longer applies to most babies, but it’s still a good idea to introduce new foods gradually. Give one new food at a time, and wait at least three days between new foods. That way, if your baby does have a reaction, you’ll know just what’s causing it.
If you’re cooking at home, here are six Plum-style flavour combinations to help get you out of your weaning rut. (Depending on your baby’s chewing and swallowing skills, you can chop, blitz, or puree them as needed.) And remember, even if some of these don’t sound good to you, your baby might love them – so why not give them a go?
Squash and cherries with cinnamon
Mixing fruit and veg might sound odd to us grownups, but babies tend to love it – and it’s a terrific way to add an extra bit of veggie nutrition to the pudding course. Butternut squash is naturally sweet, so pureeing in some luscious cherries (frozen or canned in juice both work well) and a dash of cinnamon turns it into a delicious dessert that just happens to be high in beta-carotene and several other antioxidants.
Kale and apples
Kale is a member of the brassica family, related to cabbage and broccoli. It’s also a fantastic source of nutrients, including iron and calcium as well as powerful antioxidants. Slice it finely and simmer it slowly in a small amount of salt-free chicken or vegetable stock along with some peeled, sliced apple (and maybe a bit of chopped onion) until the apple is soft, then mash or puree. (Grown-ups can try this alongside a pork chop, too – it’s delicious!)
Peas, spinach and pear with basil
Peas and pears are both naturally sweet, which offsets the earthy taste of the spinach here. Giving your baby a taste for spinach is a very smart thing to do, since it’s utterly packed with nutrition (including that all-important iron). The peas add some vitamin C, which helps your baby absorb even more of the iron from the spinach. And the basil – well, that just tastes amazing.
Turkey and prunes with rosemary
Think of it as a sort of baby Christmas dinner – the rich fruitiness of the prunes does wonders for the sometimes-bland turkey, and a touch of rosemary adds an extra savoury layer. This principle (meat + fruit + herbs) works well with most meats, so give it a try if your baby’s not keen on protein… you might be surprised at the results!
Avocado with lime, coriander and basil
Babies can be surprisingly keen on sour flavours – true, the faces they make might not always seem positive, but they usually come back for more! This combination has the same basic flavours as guacamole, and the herbs and citrus really wake up the rich but bland flavour of the avocado. (Bonus: the lime juice will help keep the avocado from going brown, too!) Great for older babies as a dip for toast fingers or breadsticks, too.
Beetroot, chickpeas and yogurt
Yes, it is bright pink. And yes, it’s probably not something you’ve ever thought of putting together. But earthy, sweet beetroot and chickpeas taste wonderful alongside the tang of plain yogurt. Just wrap a whole, scrubbed beetroot in foil and bake at 180C until tender, about an hour (it’s easiest to do this while you’re cooking a Sunday roast or something similar). Cool and then peel – the skin should slip straight off – and puree with a handful of canned chickpeas and some yogurt. Serve with breadsticks or apple slices for dipping (and don’t panic if the nappy contents go a bit pink afterward – this is completely normal!)
What other unusual flavour combinations does your baby enjoy?