Red Lentil and Spinach Baby Food
If you’ve ever doubted just how crucial the food is that we feed our babies, check this out.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement urging pediatricians to advocate for a diet rich in specific nutrients during the first two years of life. These nutrients–including protein, iron, zinc, copper, choline, and Vitamin D–are crucial for brain development. And babies who don’t have healthful diets before age 2 are more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity when they’re older.
While I find the specifics useful, I am yet again reminded just how powerful and important early childhood nutrition is. Missing out on the benefits of a nutrient-rich diet as infants can lead to brain deficiencies that can’t be reversed. As Sally Kuzemchak says on Parents.com, “Inadequate nutrition during the first two years is linked to lower IQ, behavior problems, and less success at school.”
And the good news is that feeding our babies these important nutrients is completely doable. Fortified baby cereals, such as oat, quinoa, or rice (occasionally) can be good insurance policies. But a variety of vegetables, fruits, meats, legumes, and fish can also do the trick.
This recipe from Real Baby Food is packed with nutrition, including protein, iron, and Vitamin A, not to mention fiber. It’s an easy way to help your little one get a strong start at the table.
Red Lentil-Spinach Purée
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
One 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach
1 Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the lentils and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes. Using a ladle or measuring cup, spoon off and reserve ¼ cup cooking water. Drain the lentils and cool slightly.
2 Defrost the spinach according to the package directions. Let cool for at least 10 minutes and drain in a strainer, pressing out the water with a fork.
3 Add the lentils and spinach to a blender. Blend until smooth, adding lentil cooking water by the tablespoon if needed to help it blend. For a chunkier puree, just mash the spinach and lentils with a fork. Spoon-feed, or let your baby pick this nutritious meal up by the handful.
MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS
Flavor Kick: Stir in 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
Nutrition per serving (2 tablespoons): 16 calories; 2g protein; 0g fat (0g sat. fat); 3g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 0g sugars; 11mg sodium; 20mg calcium; 1mg iron; 88mg potassium; 1mg Vitamin C; 1665IU Vitamin A
Photo by Lauren Volo