If spices were superheroes, cinnamon would occupy the upper echelons of power. Superman. Maybe Batman. No, actually maybe Captain America. Or more likely, a combination of all of those and more. Packed with anti-diabetes, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, cognition boosting, anti-cancer and female hormone cycle regulating powers, cinnamon is a spice truly worth incorporating into your baby’s, toddler’s, kid’s and family’s diets. The only caveat with cinnamon, as previously discussed, is that the widely available Cassia variety has high levels of Coumarin, which is a liver toxin. A 2012 study conducted in Norway by the Scientific Committee for Food Safety found that Norwegian kids, because of their regular intake of cinnamon-flavored oatmeal, were ingesting Coumarin in much higher doses than what is considered tolerable and safe. The simple way around this problem is to ensure that the cinnamon you use, especially if sprinkling it into your foods regularly (which you should!) is of the Ceylon / Sri Lankan variety, which has undetectable amounts of Coumarin. You can get Ceylon cinnamon from specialty spice shops, Whole Foods and on Amazon. The extra effort in this regard is definitely worth it.
Once the Coumarin issue is resolved then, here’s a nutritious and delicious baby puree packed with flavor and health that you can start your baby on.
Cinnamon, Sweet Potato, Leek, Kale Puree
Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables around, bursting with vitamins A, B and C, manganese and fiber. And most babies love them! To maximize the absorption of fat soluble nutrients, it’s good to cook sweet potatoes with olive or coconut oil used here. Leeks are one of nature’s top PREBIOTIC foods that feed and nurture the good bacteria in our guts. A baby’s gut is developing rapidly making both probiotics and prebiotics really important and influential in their diets. And finally, kale. There are probably no words necessary to describe the power of this super plant. Packed with vitamins A, C and K and minerals like manganese, copper and calcium not to mention anti-oxidants, phytonutrients and fiber, kale is a nutritional powerhouse.
8oz or 1-2 baby servings
½ large sweet potato, chopped
1 large kale leaf, stem and thick fibrous central vein removed, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
Pinch, about 1/16th teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon or up to 1/8th teaspoon for more adventurous babies
In a pot for which you have a lid or a pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium high until shimmering.
Add the leeks and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the potato, kale and cinnamon, ¼ to ½ cup of water for steaming (depending on how big your pot is and how liquid you want the puree) and cook on low heat with the lid on until the veggies are tender, about 15 minutes for a regular pot and 10 for the pressure cooker.
Once the veggies are cooked through, blend in a food processor or with a hand-held blender. Serve fresh or freeze for later.
You can skip the oil and steam the veggies with the cinnamon in a pot with a lid or your baby puree maker of choice.
If your toddler likes mashed veggies as sides to chicken or fish, this is a nice, nutritious option.
First off, what is cinnamon? Of course, we all know what cinnamon is, in theory: It’s that brownish thing we use when baking and (as I said) sprinkle on top of our foods. Beyond that, registered dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin explained to me that cinnamon is a spice that comes from the bark of a plant. Sometimes you can find it as a stick, which she says is the “truest form,” but cinnamon can also be broken down into a powder. Sarah Ball, certified health coach and registered dietitian for the University of Michigan Department of Nutritional Sciences, added that the spice’s main compound is called Cinnamaldehyde – and that’s what gives cinnamon its distinct flavor and smell, as well as its medicinal properties.
Is it healthy or what? As it turns out, cinnamon is, in fact, good for you when ingested in small quantities. First of all, cinnamon is known to be a powerful antioxidant, which means it finds these cells that roam our bodies called free radicals, and squashes them. Free radicals, Zeitlin explained, cause chronic illnesses and diseases, in addition to premature aging both cognitively and physically (so, they contribute to early onset of dementia, as well as wrinkles on your face). Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory benefits, which means it can help stave off certain autoimmune diseases and cancers. It also is believed to help regulate your blood sugar (and thereby reduce your risk of diabetes) and is thought to help lower your bad cholesterol, though the Mayo Clinic points out there still needs to be more research to figure out cinnamon’s actual effect on cholesterol.
Yes I agree to all of this. Well summarised – thank you!