Holiday Flavors Adapted for Babies, Toddlers

Shine Latina sat down with child fitness and nutrition expert Nohelia Siddons to find out how to translate traditional holiday meals for younger palates.
Holiday food for babiesHoliday food for babies
The holidays give children the opportunity of expanding their culinary horizons and indulging in the treats usually reserved for this special time of the year. Having kids partake in the traditional menus served can be a real joy, but it's important for parents to keep an eye on what they're eating, and prepare kid-friendly versions of the dishes found at the grownup table.

According to Venezuelan Nohelia Siddons, there's nothing healthier than preparing homemade baby food. "There are no preservatives added, the ingredients are not over processed, and the transition time from food preparation to the baby's mouth is much shorter," says the expert, who recommends commercially prepared baby food as a good option when away from home or travelling.

Baby-friendly holiday recipes

There's no reason why the babies in the family can't enjoy the flavors of the holidays. Preparing baby food at home is also a great way of letting the child get a taste of the seasonal fare the rest of the family will be enjoying. Here are a couple of ideas:

Holiday turkey for babies
The Latin-style Christmas turkey is usually well-seasoned with an abundance of spices. This version of pureed turkey and vegetables adds a subtle garlic flavor to the baby's dish.

What you'll need: potato, carrot, sweet potato and a small garlic clove; about two quarts of water, shredded cooked turkey; salt and olive oil to taste.
How to make it: Dice small pieces of potato, carrot, sweet potato and garlic. Add water to a pot, and boil the vegetables until completely cooked and soft. Place the cooked vegetables in a blender, adding small pieces of the turkey. Puree all ingredients. Season to taste with some salt and olive oil. Mix well and serve, or store for up to four days in the refrigerator.

Hallaca baby food
This recipe is based on the flavors of the traditional Venezuelan hallacas served at Christmas; they're a type of cornmeal tamale with beef filling, which gets wrapped in a plantain leaf before getting cooked in boiling, salted water. The same idea could be followed to make Puerto Rican pasteles baby food or Mexican tamales for kids, omitting any hot peppers or chiles from the preparation of the latter.

What you'll need:
frozen corn, chopped onion, chopped green onion, a small garlic clove, cooked beef cut up in small pieces, raisins
How to make it: Sautee all ingredients together until completely cooked and soft. Puree in a blender and serve, or store for up to four days in the refrigerator.

A Colombian-style pudding that will delight children of all ages

Taking care of the toddler and preschooler at the holiday table

Parents should carefully introduce new flavors to their toddlers to avoid bad reactions. Siddons advises the following to help children ease into more adult foods:

-Introduce the child to one food per week during the year, and see how he/she reacts. If the child complains of a stomach ache, it could be caused by one of two things: either the child's digestive system is not mature enough to process that particular food, or the child might be allergic to it. A visit to the pediatrician may help clarify the actual reason for the reaction.

-Even if the child has teeth, cut the food into small pieces to help his/her full digestion.

-Don't let the child eat any gifted candy bags without parental supervision. Siddons suggests bringing the candy home; have him/her choose three pieces of candy, and trash the rest: "Parents should be the ones controlling the child's nutrition."

-Instead of candy, offer the child a portion of Nohelia's Creamy Postre for kids: Mix a cup of plain organic yogurt with two teaspoons of fruit marmalade flavored with fructose, and two teaspoons of finely chopped mango or dates. Serve and enjoy!

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