I am enjoying introducing new foods into Lil Z-Bear’s diet. There is nothing quite like giving a new food to him for the first time, and the faces he makes before he decides if he likes it or not. But whoever says baby food needs to be bland and boring? I am taking my cue from cultures all over the world that introduce babies to all types of foods, not just bland cereal and mashed, unflavored veggies. When I prepare Z-Bear’s food, I warm it and sprinkle it with a dash of spices, and let the aromatics waft through the steam and let him smell it. I taste everything I let the little cub eat. And frankly, it’s quite yummy! Especially since I have smelled and tried the baby food that comes in a jar, and some of it is rather unappetizing. I have been introducing Lil Z-Bear to all kinds of flavorings in his food, and here are a few items that have him drooling (more than usual, that is).
(Of course, I check with our doctor before introducing anything that I am not sure about, and I make sure I prepare food properly so it poses no choking hazard. Like with any other food, when introducing herbs and spices, wait 3 to 4 days in between to make sure there isn’t an allergic reaction.)
Cinnamon: A great first spice, it is sweet, mildly spicy, and very aromatic. It’s perfect over applesauce, bananas, and sweet potatoes.
Cracked black pepper: Great to give food a bit of a kick and to enhance the sweetness in fruits.
Cumin: Roast a quarter cup of cumin seeds on a hot pan for 1 to 2 minutes, shaking constantly. Grind in a spice mill or coffee grinder and store in a jar. Sprinkle some on steamed pureed veggies or poached pureed fruit. Let your baby smell the delicious aroma that arises when you add it to warmed fruit and veggies and watch him eat it up with delight!
Garam Masala: A favorite in our house, this mixture of ground roasted spices is great over fruits, veggies, and proteins. It is readily available in the spice section of most grocery stores.
Rosemary, sage, and thyme: Throw in some fresh leaves while steaming baby food, and simply remove leaves after cooking (This is to prevent choking hazard)
Garlic: I have read in countless places that babies love the taste of garlic. And Lil Z-Bear’s delight in eating food flavored with freshly peeled, crushed garlic (added before cooking) proves it.
Paprika: Mild flavored (it’s made from ground sweet peppers) and vibrant, this is a great way to introduce baby to pepper.
Basil: Sweet smelling and flavorful, it’s great to add in steamed vegetables.
Ginger: This is excellent in poached apples and pears, as well as sweet potatoes. Add while cooking, and be sure to puree food well before serving baby.
Other great spices and flavorings that I am looking forward to trying for Lil Z-Bear: Coriander, Turmeric, Dill, Parsley, Cilantro, Lemongrass, and Coconut Milk. Will keep you posted!