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In today’s world of aspirational dining, it is not uncommon to see families scouring for everything from kale to quinoa to add nutritive value (and a bit of pretension) to their dining tables.
For many new mums, the quest to give their growing babies, the best the universe has to offer, often leads to futile researches about super foods grown in far away lands or worse, ready made meals that come with promises but are also laden with preservatives.
So, what’s a mother supposed to do in order to supplement their kids’ diet with food rich in vitamins and nourishment? Well, if you listen to the nutritionists, the first step should be to stop looking at what the world may be eating. Instead look for the best and the freshest your very own local food chain may be offering.
Here are a few exotic baby super foods and that you may have read about in international baby books or would have spotted in those expensive supermarket aisles and their equally effective DESI substitutes. Being a smart mama is sometimes just about knowing our local pantry right.
While it seems a heaven-sent snack for the kids; I mean all you have to do is pull out a slice from the refrigerator and pass on to the toddler and whoa the calcium needs of the day are taken care of. But before you get into the trap of exotic cheese such as halloumi, grana Padana or even ricotta, just look at our desi staple paneer, which packs the same, if not more benefits.
Certain cheeses made out of non-pasteurized milk are not advisable to give to kids. Some babies also developing allergies to certain cheese. So let the brie and the chevre be your friends maybe on a Europe tour, but for everyday needs, your baby is good with slightly toasted paneer cubes served with a sprinkle of salt and turmeric.
Kale and Swiss chard can collectively take the prize for securing their spot as the vanity vegetables of modern times. Grown mostly in Europe and North America, these leafy greens are seldom fresh even at the choicest grocers.
Forget these greens from across continents and say hello to our spinach, beet greens and even sweet potato greens. Together they pack more nutrients than most veggies and are packed with vitamins A, C, E and K as well as protein, fiber, calcium, iron magnesium.
Beet greens, those tender little leaves on top of the beetroots, are packed with antioxidants. If you want to get greater benefits try buying baby spinach instead.
When in season you can even grow your own spinach in a wide pod and pluck the leaves at the tender, juiciest stage when they are a light brilliant hue. Try tossing them in a wok with ginger garlic crush and our desi saag is a grub to devour.
The new little ‘fashion’ pods, edamame are native to Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine. These are immature soybeans still retain within their pods and eaten as a snack whether roasted, blanched or boiled.
Some Indian grocers stock them in packs in world cuisine sections, it is known to boost immunity and cardiovascular health. But for our babies from this part of the world, the benefits can easily be replicated with soybeans or even frozen tender peas.
Great source of manganese, phosphorus and protein, soybean is counted as one of the healthiest foods. Also, before you buy that super expensive pack of edamame, be warned that there is an ongoing debate on certain edamame being sourced from genetically modified soybeans.
So forgo the scare by buying bulk fresh peas in season and freezing them when they are at the peak of their health. Your year long supply of healthy snack is ready. Just bake, stir fry or blanch and munch away with kids.
Also Read: If you're a pure vegetarian, here are the foods your child SHOULD be eating
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Zofeen Maqsood is a lifestyle journalist who has worked with some of the biggest Indian newspapers. She is currently based in Chicago, where she continues to write extensively.
When she's not struggling to balance work and parenthood she loves to notice how the differences in American and Asian parenting styles often result in strikingly similar experiences.
Baby (6-12 month) Baby Nutrition Baby Product reviews Family nutrition Health & Wellness Meal Planning Vegetarian