“Would you like some nuts? I have just arrived at the Sydney Cooking School and am being welcomed with a bowl of enticingly fresh nuts. I pick out a macadamia. “They’re my favorite too,” says a friendly bloke with a beard. He pops one in his mouth. I soon discover that he is Paul West, the amiable and very relaxed presenter of the popular foodie show, River Cottage.
For the next few hours our little group of food writers and dietitians sit around a long wooden table laden with every type of tree nut, both in the shell and out of the shell. I recognize all the nuts out of their shells but it’s a different story seeing them in their shells. So often we buy nuts already shelled which means that their healthy unsaturated fats turn rancid quite quickly. “Keep your nuts in a sealed jar in the fridge or freezer,” the Nuts For Life people tell us. I dutifully do just that as soon as I arrive home with the enormous glass jar of nuts they give us.
Posted on : 11-04-2014 | By : Cindy | In : Babies, Kids nutrition
When my baby hit six months I freaked out. Breast feeding had been easy – no planning or thought. Now I had to start cooking for this tiny human and my brain was still in sleep deprived mush. So I dug up all the articles I had ever written about feeding babies to remind myself what to do!! Advice has changed since then so The New Zealand Healthy Food Guide (a great magazine which you can read online) asked me to write an update to the fraught subject of Baby’s First Foods. Here is a shortened version of it.
When should I start giving my baby solids?
Start your baby on solids at around six months. As with adults every baby is different and some may need solids a little earlier but definitely not before four months of age.
Starting solids too early (before 4 months) will stress your baby’s immature digestive system and kidneys, and increase the risk of developing eczema, asthma, type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease or food allergy. If food replaces some of the milk at this early age, your baby may miss out on vital nutrients and energy for growth.
A full term baby is born with enough iron and zinc stores to last around six months. Around the six month mark it is very important that your baby start to eat some iron rich foods. Breast milk contains just small amounts of iron. More than 90% of a breast fed baby’s iron requirements must come from food once the initial iron stores are used up. Starting solids later than six months also increases your baby’s risk of developing a food allergy.
Breast milk is the number one source of nutrients and energy for babies. Babies should be exclusively breast fed for around six months and ideally during the introduction of new foods.
What should I start with?
Most mums start off with an iron rich food such as iron-fortified baby rice cereal thinned with breast milk or infant formula.
I wake from a peri-menopausal sleep and glance at my watch. 6.15am. I jump out of bed, peeling off the sweat soaked PJ’s and race to the shower. I am already 15 minutes late.
I hurry downstairs to chop the apple and almonds for the Swiss Muesli. I stir in plain yoghurt and currants to the apple juice soaked oats and plop a fry pan with a dash of canola oil on the gas for an egg. The leisurely breakfasts and 9am start of primary school are finished. This year it’s high school and a 7.15am start to catch the bus.
My husband is already sipping his coffee and checking his ipad for news, stock prices and mail. The red teapot sits waiting for me on the bench. He’s made me tea and I gratefully pour the amber liquid into my favourite cup. Nothing like a good cup of tea in the morning. I flip the egg, pour a glass of water and place it all on the table with the Swiss Muesli. My son stumbles downstairs, already wired to his ipod and grunts a good morning. I sit down with my cup of tea for a few minutes of meaningful conversation.
“Just let me finish listening to this song, Mum.” He munches on his muesli. Eventually he unplugs himself and is ready to chat. The clock ticks relentlessly towards 7.15. My brain switches from meaningful conversation to task oriented talk.
“How can I use up this quinoa?” I asked my good friend. A bag of the stuff sat in my pantry, a brown paper reminder of a moment of inspired healthiness while browsing the health food shop. Weeks later, my good intentions still sat there, waiting for me to be re-inspired. And inspired I finally was, not by my friend’s suggestions but by the recipe book she bought me as a present.
I flicked through the recipes, salivating at the gorgeous food photography and mentally noting which ones I would try first. Then one caught my eye: Spiced Vegetable Couscous. I love roast vege salad and usually toss it with red wine vinegar. This recipe has the added fibre and flavour of chick peas, mint, coriander, tzatziki and a Moroccan spice mix called ras el hanout (paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, turmeric, fennel, allspice, cardamom, dill, galangal, nutmeg, caraway, black pepper, cloves, rose petals and much more) which I bought at Herbies, a dedicated spice shop, just up the road in Rozelle, Sydney.