It's easier than you think to make your baby's food healthy.With little bodies expanding in every direction, it's been a goal of mine to feed our three little kids (and I do mean little-they're 1, 2 and 4 years old) good, healthy and fresh food from the start. It's not about making radical changes to the food you cook, sometimes just a few small updates make a big difference. Here are my best tips and tricks so far.
- Always opt for whole wheat. Babies DO come out of the womb craving sweets, but this is still a good time to instill a habit of healthy eating. Use whole wheat cereal as soon as your baby is ready for solids, then introduce new grains such as quinoa, millet, even whole oats-either ground up ahead of time or mashed after cooking. Toddlers can always eat whole wheat sandwich bread, pasta and tortillas.
- Add spinach to everything. Frozen or fresh, pop a handful of leaves in a microwave bowl with a teaspoon of water and steam for a minute or so. Puree, and add to anything-applesauce (for babies), scrambled eggs (for toddlers), any sauce, or whatever works at your place (for everyone).
- Choose organic produce. A no-brainer these days, the point is not that an organic carrot has more vitamin C, but rather that it's been exposed to fewer chemicals along the way. THAT'S the health benefit. Grocery stores often offer frozen organic brands for much less, and CSAs are always a good deal, if you're going to be cooking produce a good deal.
- Get 'em hooked on fruit. If you want to avoid processed foods for as long as you can (this means you, Goldfish), fruit is your best ally in the fight. Surprisingly, your kids won't actually like all fruit, and not all the time. But stick with it. Introduce what's in season (peaches in the summer, oranges in the winter, and so on) and each juicy fruit will be more likely to taste great. (Or at least HAVE some taste.)
Related: 11 tips for making your own baby food
- Sprinkle on the goodness. I add chia seeds, wheat germ or flax seed to anything I can (from yogurt to cereal) whether the kids can see it or not. They know all three and actively ask for them often.
- Reduce the sugar in baked goods. One thing kids eat too much of today is sugar. This is especially true the older they get, and the more processed food they eat. Since mine are babies, toddlers and a preschooler, I'm trying to train these little taste buds to be satisfied at a lower setting and my main trick is simple: cut the sugar called for in every recipe. Muffins and quick breads at my place routinely receive 50-75 percent as much sugar as the original recipe called for.
- Cut the fat. And while you're at it, you can easily replace half the oil in any recipe with applesauce. Mashed bananas can be a good substitute for half the butter.