I don’t like calling this “baby cereal” because this cereal is for everyone. Adults and older children can dress it up with bananas, date sugar, toasted nuts, sliced apples, milk, maple syrup, blueberries, or whatever. The grains were chosen because they are the least allergenic and the easiest to digest. Try to find organic varieties if possible.
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1 cup millet
1 cup quinoa
1 cup sweet brown rice
Place grains in a fine strainer; rinse and drain.
Oven toasting: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread grains on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until they give off a nutty aroma (12 to 15 minutes).
Skillet toasting: Place washed grains in a large skillet on burner and toast on medium heat, stirring constantly, until grains give off nutty aroma (about 5 to 8 minutes).
Let toasted grains cool, then store them in a sealed container.
For optimum nutrition, grind the grains in a small electric grinder or food processor just prior to using; once a grain is ground it begins to lose nutritional value within 24 to 48 hours. Store the whole toasted grains in labeled, sealed containers and grind the amount you need before cooking.
Cook ground grains into cereal
Baby-size portion of cereal: Mix together 2 to 3 tablespoons of ground cereal and 1/2 to 3/4 cups water and a pinch of sea salt in a small pot. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for five minutes.
Family-size portion of cereal: For four adult-size servings, use 1 cup ground grains, 3 to 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. Combine cereal, water, and salt in a pot; stir with a whisk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes. A flame-tamer or heat deflector used while simmering will help prevent scorching or sticking.
Preparation time: eight to 15 minutes for toasting; five to 12 minutes to cook cereal.
Makes four adult-size portions of cereal.
French Lentil & Potato Stew
This simple, hearty stew is my favorite standby for a one-dish meal, quick to prepare and economical. The tiny French lentils are wonderful, but if you can’t find them, substitute regular brown lentils. Ghee, or clarified butter, can hold a higher temperature than butter without burning.
1–2 teaspoons ghee or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon freshly grated gingerroot
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 red potatoes, cut in cubes
1 parsnip, sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup French lentils
4 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
Melt ghee or butter in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add all spices and sauté a few more minutes. Add potatoes, parsnip, celery, carrot, lentil, and water. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 50 to 60 minutes. If using a pressure cooker, bring up to pressure and cook 40 minutes. Stir in salt. Serve stew garnished with a dollop of yogurt.
Preparation time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Makes six servings
For babies six to 10 months: Reserve an extra parsnip or potato. Slice vegetable and steam or bake while stew is cooking. Puree and serve. Or serve this stew to the rest of the family over basmati brown rice. Blend some of this rice with breastmilk or water to make cereal for your baby.
For babies 10 months and older: Remove some cooked stew before adding salt. Puree lightly and serve.
Quick Lemon & Garlic Quinoa Salad
Quinoa has an excellent nutritional profile (10.5 grams of protein per cup). This unique whole grain, which was the staple food of the Incas, is also rich in calcium and iron. It has been used in Africa and Peru to aid women in producing a good supply of breastmilk.
1 cup dried quinoa
8 cups water
Pinch of sea salt
½ cup carrots, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, minced
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2–3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari or shoyu
Rinse quinoa with warm water and drain through a fine strainer. Place quinoa in a 3-quart pan and dry-roast on low heat (about five to eight minutes). Stir grains constantly until they begin to change color and give off a nutty aroma. Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add salt and toasted quinoa to boiling water. Boil for seven to eight minutes. Remove from heat and drain quinoa in a large strainer, in the same way you would prepare pasta.
Prepare vegetables and dressing. Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl. Add carrots, seeds, and parsley to quinoa. Mix thoroughly. Combine garlic, lemon juice, oil, and tamari or shoyu; pour over quinoa and toss well. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes
Makes four to six servings
For babies six to 10 months: Reserve some plain cooked quinoa. Puree quinoa with water or breastmilk to make cereal. Or take three or four extra carrots, bake them for one hour in a covered dish at 350 F degrees while you’re making the rest of the meal. Mash with a fork and serve to baby.
For babies 10 months and older: If your infant has a few teeth, he can eat plain cooked quinoa. Grind up sunflower seeds or parsley with your baby’s grains for extra nutrients.
Garlic Sautéed Collards
There is nothing more nutritious for pregnant and nursing moms than dark green leafy vegetables. When you’re looking for nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and folic acid, think foliage.
8 cups chopped raw collard greens
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or ghee
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½–1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
½ teaspoon tamari
For greens with tough stems, cut the leaves away from the stem before washing. Wash greens carefully. An easy way is to fill your sink with cold water and submerge the greens. If the water has a lot of sediment, drain the sink and repeat. Chop greens into thin strips.
Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet. Add garlic and sauté a minute or so. Add greens and keep them moving in the skillet. Turn frequently so that all greens reach the heat. When all greens have turned bright green, just begun to wilt, and exude a sweet, juicy flavor, remove from heat. Sprinkle vinegar and tamari over the top. Toss gently and serve.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Makes two cups, four servings
For babies 10 months and older: Blend a teaspoon or two of cooked collards in their cereal or vegetables, which will help accustom baby’s taste to this nutritious vegetable. (Children younger than 10 months are probably not ready for greens.)
This wonderful autumn dessert can also be adapted for other seasons. Use peaches and blueberries in summer. The recipe also can be doubled to feed a crowd.
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cold-pressed vegetable oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons maple syrup or concentrated fruit sweetener
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups sliced pears and plums (about 3 pears and 5 plums; replace the pears with apples if desired)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix oats, flour, and salt together in a bowl. Add oil and sweetener; mix well. Stir in nuts and set aside. In a small bowl combine water, syrup, spices, and vanilla extract; set aside. Slice fruit and place in a lightly oiled pie pan or an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Pour the liquid mixture over the fruit and toss gently. Spoon the oat-nut mixture evenly on top of the fruit. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes to crisp the topping.
Preparation time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Makes eight servings
For babies six to 10 months: Reserve extra pears or plums. Slice and bake in a separate dish while the crisp is baking. Remove and blend. For babies 10 months and older: Remove some of the baked pear and plum from the bottom of the crisp. Puree and serve. You can also use extra rolled oats to simmer some oatmeal. Add ground walnuts to the cereal for extra nutrition.