While most parents prefer a “baby” diet for their little ones, traditional upbringing was simple: Induct the child into the world of tastes and flavours as early as 15 months. The wisdom behind this was that the palate must get accustomed to all tastes, sitting down with adults for a meal is made easier and the fact that introducing newer tastes later might lead to aversion to stronger flavours and spices.
However, a section of new parents would still opt for the middle path. “Let’s spice up things a wee bit so that the big leap into adult food is not very different,” is their guiding creed. Leading this band is Melissa Bakth, founder of revolutionary food brand, “Short Eats,” a growing tribe in the West. Her new campaign – Battle The Bland – is a range of baby food inspired by Sri Lankan cuisine and approved by nutritionists. In short, this newbie is available as the packaged option in a market ruled by the ubiquitous Gerber or Heinz brands.
Based out of London, she laments the packaged bland baby food. As she put it: “My heart sinks when I go through departmental store aisle that have baby food. Since the target age group cannot fully articulate their food processing thoughts, so there’s been no real reason to change.”
A food blogger of repute, Melissa lists the difference between hot spices and the aromatic ones. “Aromatic ones – such as cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, turmeric, ginger, coriander, dill and cumin – are perfectly fine to introduce to children, even in infancy after six months. Maybe, hot spices can wait.”
She cautions that very spicy food is best avoidable as it does flare up the tender intestines. However, from around eight months, or from when the baby is ready for solid food, experts agree that mild herbs and spices are a great addition.
Working with her comes pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr Anca Safta, who informs that underlying fault is in societal thinking en masse. “Baby foods have to be bland. That thought pattern has to be changed.” The medic notes that “hot spices” do not involve a taste, but involve stimulation of pain receptors, and infants might have a stronger and novel reaction to it, possibly creating an aversion.
Added, the twosome are big backers of adding texture to every meal in the form of prawn crackers, papads or croutons. Their baby food is a mash, not mush with liberal chunks of vegetables thrown in. Gelatinous fibres like chia seeds, flax seeds and aloe vera are also high on their ingredient list. “The natural compounds in these seeds make them easy to digest,” Melissa states.
The duo endorses a liberal use of turmeric, curry leaves, cumin and fennel as seasoning for just about every dish made for little ones. While their brand of packaged food comes all ready, the foodpreneurs suggest keep a handy masala mix to top over regulars made at home.
“Lightly temper a tablespoon of cumin seeds, a tablespoon of fennel seeds and a handful of fresh curry leaves. Once this has cooled, blend and store in an air-tight container. Great even as a garnish,” tips off Melissa.
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