Red lentil soup, also known as Masoor Daal, is a staple in most Indian households, with each family possessing a slight variation in how it's prepared. Jazzed up with turmeric, cumin and other spices and served with veggies and whole wheat bread (roti) or rice, daal is a fixture at every meal, packing a vegetarian protein punch as well as fibre and B vitamins. Most importantly, it is absolutely delicious and soul-warming. My four year old loves it, which is a fact that definitely warms my soul.
Hummus is my best friend on a lazy day (and all days). It is delicious, satisfying, healthy and versatile. In a pinch, it makes for the perfect kid lunch, slathered into a pita pocket with some chopped avocado thrown in. A large dollop with oven-roasted potatoes and sautéed greens makes for a very happy dinner and my son and his friends love dipping veggie sticks into it for a snack! I like it best on its own straight from the fridge, it's creaminess deceiving me into thinking I'm enjoying a forbidden treat.
Packed with plant-based protein, good-for-you fats, iron, zinc, potassium, B vitamins like folate and gut-friendly fibre, this creamy classic from the Middle East can be yours to lap up in less than minutes. It's tempting to buy but ridiculously easy to make and even more delicious in its DIY version.
Without further ado, let's get blending.
It was during my first trip to Vietnam in 2014 that I saw star anise in all its glory, proudly displayed in restaurants, at pho street carts and local spice markets. Star anise is the distinctly Vietnamese aromatic that makes the classic noodle soup dish known as pho what it is (pronounced "fuh" like "huh"). I have modified the classic to make a kid-friendly version that's also perfect for the family table.
In 'Don't snub the spud! Why the humble potato is a kid superfood', I share nutrition-based reasons why the potato is such a great option for the family table, especially for kids. This simple recipe celebrates the spud in all its starchy, satiating glory.
Nothing screams cozy comfort classic like potato leek soup. I jazzed it up with white pepper - the seed of the matured black peppercorn minus the outer layer - and the results are delicious. A little goes a long way with white pepper so be careful. It gives more bite while also being more subtle than black pepper, perfect for the delicate flavours of this simple soup. We make this about once every two weeks and serve it with a grilled cheese sandwich or chicken strips and a side of veg - dip dip!
As previously discussed, cumin is the perfect spice for babies' unique needs - (1) Pro-digestion, (2) Immunity-boosting, (3) Anti-microbial and (4) Iron-rich - but it has additional powers that also make it ideal for the whole family. Cumin's benefits, in addition to those mentioned above, include: (5) Anti-cancer / Anti-oxidant, (6) Anti-diabetes (7) Anti-osteoporotic. While high doses of spices are often required to see disease-modifying effects, a close inspection of the amounts of cumin involved revealed that levels attainable through diet (a teaspoon a day) can have positive benefits on measures like cholesterol, lipid levels and body weight. A generous sprinkling on a fried egg for breakfast, in a lentil soup for lunch and in this chicken curry for dinner could get you to a high enough concentration to see health benefits, no pill required!
Khichdi, a rice and lentil porridge, often prepared with vegetables, is a revered food in the ancient Indian medical system known as Ayurveda (translated the Science of Life). The combination of rice and lentils provides all essential amino acids. When made with white rice (stay tuned for my post on my data-driven massive change of heart about brown rice for babies!), the dish is thought to be extremely energising and healing for the digestive tract and is highly recommended for babies who are learning to flex their digestive muscle. Khichdi also presents itself as a canvas for various vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. The addition of spices like turmeric and cumin boosts the antioxidant content and augments the digestibility of the lentils, although one typically uses skinned yellow or red lentils for babies, which are easier to digest anyway. All of these factors make khichdi a great addition to baby's meal plan, elevating it with science and flavour.
Butternut squash is not only delicious but alive with nutrients - carotenoids (that become vitamin A in the body), antioxidants, anti-inflammatory molecules, types of starches that aid in blood sugar regulation, B vitamins, including folate and surprisingly, a bit of omega-3 fats in the form of alpha linoleic acid, also a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Squash is abundant in winter and affordable so there really is every reason to make it part of your family table. Combined here with antioxidant-rich spices that regulate blood sugar, exhibit antibacterial effects and boost digestion, to name a few of the benefits, this delicious and soul-warming soup is sheer health and deliciousness in a bowl.
If you hate beets it might be because you, like me, were only offered the boiled, sad preparation growing up. But beets done right can be addictive and delicious. My toddler definitely thinks so and I, having introduced them to him as a bay, am taking all the credit ;) Beets are not just gorgeous to look at but so amazing for our bodies, particularly due to their detoxification and anti-inflammatory powers, in addition to being a solid source of folate. Cumin is a fantastic digestive aid and antioxidant. It’s also a good source of iron! In this dish, cumin’s smoky and nutty flavours beautifully complement the earthiness and sweetness of beets. We suggest pressure-cooking or steaming (versus boiling) the beets to preserve nutrients. Here, they join forces with probiotic and calcium-rich yoghurt to create a nutritious, delicious, flavour-packed puree any budding gourmet will love.
The content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. We do not claim that any of the spices or recipes we discuss are a substitute for modern medicine or will cure you of a disease or ailment. Please consult with your doctor before introducing spices or any new foods mentioned on this site to your baby or kid if you are concerned about their reaction to them.