The purpose of this post is to identify which of our usual evening meals will be suitable for baby led weaning/healthy eating as they are, which will need adjusting and which we will have to ditch entirely. To start I will just list the things I normally cook.
Our regular meals
Quorn and mushroom pie
Salmon and Broccoli pasta bake
Chilli (I currently cook both meat and quorn versions in bulk)
Madras ( using a shop bought curry paste, I currently cook both meat and quorn versions in bulk and freeze individual portions)
Pesto (from a jar) pasta with haloumi, mushrooms and broccoli or feta, cherry tomatoes and olives.
Spinach and artichoke wonder pot
Salmon wonder pot
Naan bread pizza
Thai green prawn curry (again, made with a shop bought paste)
White fish curry made using this recipe
Meatballs (bought ready made), spaghetti and tomato sauce.
Things to consider
1) Salt content
According to the NHS website babies under the age of 1 year should not have more than 1 gram of salt per day in their diet. This is because their kidneys can not cope with it. Note that the 1 gram limit includes foods naturally high in salt such as cheese and smoked fish as well as foods to which it has been added such as breakfast cereals and bread.
One of the main issues with the meals I prepare is a reliance on curry pastes and stock cubes. When I make madras curry I use Pataks curry paste which is 1.4g salt per 100g. A jar of pataks is approximately 300g (4.2g salt) which would usually provide 8 portions of curry at approx 0.5g of salt each. In Elsie’s first year she won’t be eating a full portion but I guess she might be eating a 2 fifths of a portion and therefore 0.2 grams of salt from just the sauce in that meal. I’m sure a health care professional would advise me to make my own paste but having done the maths I’m no too worried about my madras curry paste.
My Thai green curry paste is by Thai Taste per 100g it has 9 grams of salt I use it in the same quantities as the Pataks which would make the per portion salt content 2.6 grams making a 2 fifths portion contain 1.05 grams of salt. So whilst the Pataks curry paste wouldn’t be the end if the world the Thai curry paste is clearly a no go!
Another shop bought sauce I regularly use is pesto- I am currently using tescos classic green pesto which has 2g of salt per 100 grams. I use 50 grams per portion so one portion would contain 1 gram and 2/5ths of a portion would contain 0.4 grams which wouldn’t be ideal on a regular basis.
Almost everything I cook from scratch ends up with a stock cube in it. I buy the reduced salt oxo vegetable stock cubes which contain 23.11grams of salt per 100g. My Oxo cubes weigh 5.91 grams each so contain 1.37 grams of salt each. I use one cube per 4 portions therefore a single portion contains 0.34grams of salt and 2/5ths of a portion would contain 0.14 grams of salt.
So, to summarise the salt issue; i will definitely replace my Thai green curry paste with a home made alternative. I will also investigate alternatives to my madras curry paste, pesto and stock cubes.
We eat quorn because Dan does not eat meat. There is nothing wrong with quorn but I would prefer to give Elsie a more natural protein source such as chicken which is also a better (more per 100g) source of protein. Skinned chicken breast is about 31% protein while quorn chicken style pieces are only 14%. So for the quorn and mushroom pies I make I will start making both quorn and mushroom for dan and chicken and mushroom for Elsie and I. This sounds like a lot of hassle but I tend to cook in bulk and freeze so it’s not as bad as it sounds!
As for lasagna I think I will try out a new vegetarian option that involves neither meat nor quorn.
What about chillies? Gill Rapley advises that you use chillies in small amounts while you assess how your baby reacts to them. If a curry is too hot (as in spicy) you can use natural yoghurt to cool it down. We use a lot of chilies so I will tone it down a bit!
4) Ease of Handling
Initially Elsie will need chunks of food that she can grab in the palm of her hand, leaving a bit sticking out of the top. This will mean I will need to leave at least some bigger chunks of veg in meals such as curries and cut meat up into longer strips. For chilli I will just leave some chunks of mince undivided. It is important to keep giving Elsie the opportunity to learn new skills so something more difficult to pick up-like rice made sticky with sauce- alongside easier items such as veg sticks would be ideal. This means that I don’t need to make everything super easy to pick up.
To safeguard against choking food should be cut into irregular shapes; ie not round- a shape that would block Her air way if inhaled. So bananas should be divided lengthways and grapes should be cut in half. Peas should be mashed until she develops a pincer grip. While these rules won’t exclude any foods they will change some of the ways I prepare foods.
The curry pastes, pesto and stock cubes that I currently use contain more salt than is ideal. I would like to avoid Quorn and reduce chillies. I will also need to think about the shapes I cut all of my ingredients into both for ease of handling and to reduce the risk of choking.
1) Find and test alternatives to curry pastes, stock and pesto.
2) Find and test baby friendly vegetarian lasagna recipe.
3) Experiment with new recipes to introduce to repertoire.