Balsamic for Babies?

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Freshly picked summer strawberries

Hi everyone!
Kirina picked these strawberries all by herself! Here in the Garden State we are lucky to live near such amazing farms, all full of fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables.  Our favorite farm, Terhune Orchards, has a cute “read and pick” event every other Tuesday this summer.  It was so much fun! Was a bit hot, but we picked a little pint together (while I had the other little pint, Ela, 8lbs, strapped on me.  Wearing a baby and managing a toddler picking (eating, smearing) strawberries in the heat is not something I would recommend).  🙂

Farmer Kirina

What to do with all these strawberries?? Obviously, they are delicious and sweet on their own (particularly since they were locally grown), but there are tons of creative ways to feed them to your little one. Ideas to try:

1.  Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic for babies? Yes! This is an unbelievably tasty combination for grown-ups and your little one shouldn’t be deprived.  Strawberries are a great vehicle for introducing a new flavor to your little one.  For toddlers, simple mix a few drops of your favorite balsamic into a bowl of chopped strawberries and serve.  For babies (over 9 months), take about a cup of strawberries, chopped, and steam them for five minutes (a steamer basket is best for this).  Puree in a blender, adding a few drops of water if necessary.  Add a drop or two of balsamic and serve! For an even smoother consistency, strain the strawberry mixture before adding the balsamic and serving.

2. Strawberries & Mint

A pinch of mint offers a nice, fun, refreshing flavor! Simply take 1 or 2 fresh mint leaves (or a pinch of dried) and add to your strawberry puree or chunks as prepared above.

3.  Strawberries & Lime

One of Kirina’s favorite combinations! For toddlers, a small squeeze will do.  For babies, start with a drop or two and work your way up.  A little does go a long way.  For mommies, I encourage you to muddle some strawberries, add ice, a squeeze of lime, tonic or soda water and vodka.  No, I am not kidding.  Children, as lovable as they are, make you want to drink.

4.  Strawberries & Cardamom

Definitely more unusual, but since cardamom pairs so well with sweet fruits and desserts, a pinch of this ground spice really enlivens a strawberry mash.  As always, using a familiar ingredient as a vehicle to introduce your little one to a new spice or flavor is helpful.

5.  Strawberry Ginger Yogurt

For babies who are taking yogurt, puree strawberries with a thin slice of fresh ginger root, then add into the yogurt.  For toddlers, you can create a yogurt parfait, layering pureed strawberry and ginger in between layers of yogurt, or simply use the baby version and mix everything together.

From Kirina’s high chair to yours, bon appetit!

Mango Season Is Here!

A spoonful of the season

A spoonful of the season

Hello Everyone,

MANGOS! Or is it mangoes with an “e?”  Jury is still out on that one (grammar folks help out on this one).  Anyway, mango season is upon us! Every April, May and June this wonderful season takes over, particularly for Indian and Indian-American households who are mango-crazy.  When I say crazy, I mean crazy! Whole festivals are created around this fruit in India.  It is sometimes called the hundred days of madness, in fact, in reference to the brief amount of time this prized fruit is in season.

My parents came here in the 1970’s and one of the things they missed most was the Indian mango.  My mom would tell me stories about how my grandmother would spend time pickling unripe mangoes, setting the jars out on the veranda so that the hot Indian sun would work its magic, heating the jars and preserving the newly jarred jewels.  I also have childhood memories of my parents, once they finally found mangos in this country, eating the juicy, fleshy, fruit over the sink because it was so messy! Every Indian-American kid probably has the same memory.

But it isn’t just Indian folks who have a fondness for the fruit.  Caribbean and Mexican cultures adore the fruit as well.  The only debate is over which mangos are tastier.  True Indian mangos, called Alphonso mangos, have been denied an entry visa for years from the US government (something to do with pesky insects they carried) until recently (they can be found for way too much money now in Indian grocery stores).  Other mangos, like the Kent and Ataulfo varieties are more commonly found in US markets and are grown in Florida and Mexico.  These are just as tasty when ripe…look for sweet-smelling, soft fruit when selecting.

Ripe Mango

Baby Food

If your baby is lucky enough to be starting solid foods during mango season, this is an amazing fruit to try! Simply cut into chunks and blend until smooth.

Mr. Teacup takes a taste of mango saffron puree.

Adding Flavor to Baby’s Food with Saffron

What could be better than simply mangos? Adding a pinch of saffron!  Saffron is a mild, gentle, but flavorful spice that comes from a special orchid flower.  It is used in everything from warmed bedtime milk, to Indian and Middle Eastern desserts to the famous Spanish Paella (it is what gives paella its bright orange color).

Saffron and mango are buddies…they taste amazing together.  Dissolve a few saffron threads in a few teaspoons of warm water.  You will notice the color coming out.  Add this to your mango chunks when blending and your puree will be imparted with a beautiful, exotic saffron perfume.  It is a wonderful way to introduce your baby to a new spice.  Kirina loved this as a baby and I can’t wait to try it on Ela when she is ready to start solids.

 

For toddlers, you can add the mango-saffron puree to a cup of yogurt in a bowl, or blend to make a smoothie.  YUM!

Keep those taste buds growing!  With summer upon us and fruits coming into season it is a fun time to experiment and introduce new flavors to your little one.

From Kirina’s high chair to your little one’s, bon appetite!