Baby and toddler food shouldn’t be bland! Experimenting with a range of spices can help to expand their palettes and cultivate adventurous eaters who enjoy a range of flavours, textures and are excited by food!
Introducing bold flavours early on is essential as babies receptiveness to new tastes narrows as they get older. Broadening their palettes at a young age will hopefully result in appreciation of wholesome, unprocessed and flavoursome food. Furthermore, as salt should be avoided for under 1’s adding spices is a fantastic way to add flavour.
Did you know? If you breastfed/are breastfeeding your baby then your little one will already have been exposed to a range of flavours through your milk and this can actually help to develop a taste for flavoured food!
Advantages & Benefits Of Introducing Spices To Your Baby Early On:
- They add flavour and fragrance to food without the needed for added sweetness or salt.
- Younger palettes are more receptive to new flavours and enjoyment of different flavours will hopefully lead to adventurous eaters.
- Spices provide health benefits and can help fight cold and boost immunity.
- You can serve the same meal to the whole family, with minor modifications.
- Spices add dimension and depth to food and you may find they enjoy food they wouldn’t usually eat!
- Adding a variety of spices helps babies and toddlers to expect change! They will become used to changes in flavour and therefore widen their palette.
How To Introduce Spices To Your Baby:
The key is to begin with aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, paprika, mint, cardamom, cumin and coriander.
Avoid anything that is spicy, such as cayenne pepper or chillies as this may irritate and upset their tummies. You can always add these to individual adult portions before serving.
Start with a small amount of spice and build up the quantity over time. Spices that have a strong flavour and aroma can overpower if used too generously.
Be persistent! Babies and toddlers often need a lot of exposure to something new, so don’t be put off if they reject new flavours at first.
Do peruse the recipes on my website and Instagram as I make full use of a wide and varied range of spices to add flavour, depth and dimension!
Spices to start with:
Basil has a delicate light aroma and works well in sauces, on pizza and with veggies.
Cardamom has a subtle light and sweet flavour with a mild eucalyptus undertones and works well in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Cinnamon adds an earthy, warm, delicate and slightly sweet flavour to dishes.
Cinnamon works well in porridge, yoghurt, with bananas, in some curries.
If using cinnamon regularly ensure it is Ceylon cinnamon as this contains a low liver toxin (coumarin) content in comparison to cassia cinnamon.
Coriander is one of the oldest spices in the world and has a green-yellow colour.
Coriander seeds have a distinctive fragrance which is reminiscent of citrus tones. When cooking with the seeds they must be dry roasted or added to hot oil/ghee until they begin popping in the pan.
Coriander powder is simply the seeds ground down and pairs well with cumin, adding a delicious earthy tone to food.
Cloves, technically a flower, have a sweet flavour and warm aroma. Clove pairs well with sweet and savoury dishes and is often used alongside cardamom and cinnamon. As it has a strong flavour it can overpower more delicate spices so it’s always better to start with less and adjust to your preference
Cumin seeds have a warm, aromatic and slightly bitter flavour. They must also be dry roasted or added to hot oil/ghee until they being to pop to best emerge their flavour.
Cumin powder adds an earthy flavour to curries. It pairs beautifully with vegetables.
Mint is very aromatic and has a vibrant and fresh taste which pairs well with veggies.
Nutmeg has a sweet and warming flavour that’s works well in both sweet and a airy dishes.
Oregano is earthy and aromatic and is a great addition to sauces, stews, pizza and veggies.
Smoked paprika has a wonderful sweet and rich taste. It pairs well with sweet potatoes, carrots and coriander.
Best known for its medicinal and healing properties, turmeric has an earthy flavour and adds a beautiful vibrancy.
Always be mindful of allergic reactions when introducing anything new to babies and toddlers.
Ensure whole spices are removed before serving.
My new eBook, Baby & Toddler Friendly Authentic Family Food is big on flavour with recipes suitable for the whole family to enjoy together! Vibrant spices are the star of the show and the recipes are a fantastic way to introduce spices to your little ones and tantalise their tastebuds with new and exciting flavours.
I’m excited to share 2 recipes from my eBook with you!
This simple, aromatic and warming one pot dish is packed with antioxidants and minerals from the turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin and veggies. It is certainly a treat for little tastebuds!
Prep: 5 mins (+soaking)
Cook: 30 mins
Serves: 2 adults & 2 toddlers
1 cup basmati rice (soaked for at least 15 mins)
2 tbsps ghee
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cardamom pods
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
A handful of chopped coriander
1 heaped tsp garam masala
¼ cup puréed tomatoes or 1 large tomato, diced
2 tbsps Greek yoghurt
1 cup mixed vegetables of choice
1 ¾ cups water
- Wash and drain the rice and set aside.
- Add the ghee to a large pan over a medium heat and when hot add in the bay leaf, cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Then add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until translucent.
- Next add in the garlic, ginger and chilli (if using) and sauté for another couple of minutes.
- Pour in the tomatoes, salt, yoghurt, coriander, mint leaves, garam masala and turmeric. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the vegetables.
- Layer the rice over the vegetables and then pour over the water. Put a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to low. Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Check a couple of times in case you need to add a little more water.
- When cooked, stir everything together and then pop the lid back on and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving. Remove the cloves and cardamom pods before serving.
- Serve with yoghurt and a sprinkling of chopped coriander.
Mix it up:
You can add in some paneer or tofu for a protein boost.
Make it vegan
Substitute the ghee with coconut oil and the Greek yoghurt with coconut yoghurt.
Oven Baked Tofu
This simple side dish is packed with flavour and protein and makes a great accompaniment to a main meal or as a snack!
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Serves 2 adults & 2 toddlers
What you need?
1 packet of tofu, drained and patted dry
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180c and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Ensure all moisture is removed from the tofu by pressing it gently.
- Cut the tofu into small cubes and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the oil and spices. Add in the tofu and ensure that the pieces are well coated.
- Spread evenly onto the baking tray and bake for 10 mins. Flip and bake for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve with cooling yoghurt or beetroot raita.
Did you know?
Tofu is an excellent source of plant based protein and contains all nine essential mini acids.