You are what you eat. I want my child to be distinctly Trinbagonian. You best believe I’ve shaped his diet to reflects this. Believe me, the food struggle is real. Like millions of over achiever Caribbean moms who have walked the food path with a baby/toddler before me, I’ve been covered in regurgitated Crix, carailee (ok that really was a long shot), callaloo and dasheen. But I live for the days he ‘nyams down’ cassava and coconut milk, nibbles on okra and rice (vegan quinoa recipe below) and smiles as split-pea dhal drips off his chin.
Here are a few of my baby friendly Trinbagonian and Caribbean inspired baby food recipes.No scotch bonnet pepper or pimento (ok, no pimento seeds) here.
Dasheen in Coconut Milk: They had me at peeled and frozen dasheen (Taro). When I
stumbled upon this in the freezer section of my local Massy Stores (I love Massy Maraval BTW), I instantly added it to my cart with recipes swirling in my head. The final baby food recipe yielding about two small servings for baby is simple:
- 2 slices frozen dasheen (straight from the pack. NB: Breaking off two pieces will be hard)
- ¼ cup coconut milk (I used powered coconut milk. If YOU have time to grate and strain – power to you)
- ¼ slice peeled garlic clove
- One slice of white onion
- ¼ cup water
- Boil all ingredients together until dasheen is soft and liquid all but disappears
- Mash ingredients with a fork or blend in Nutribullet.
Variations: Add 4/5 spinach leaves to boiling mixture. Try the same recipe with green figs, sweet potato or eddoes. Add 1/3 diced sweet pepper prior to serving (colour is always cool). Leave dasheen in chunk size pieces for bigger baby to pick up with hands (ie: make a mess while trying to eat).
Mashed Sweet Potato: For grown ups I make this by boiling frozen sweet potatoes (see my comments re: frozen dasheen above) in salted water, adding copious amounts of heavy
cream, parsley and finishing with two table spoons of maple syrup and diced fried dry bacon soaked in bourbon. It’s a bit of heaven. The baby friendly version is below. Resist the temptation to add the bourbon for baby – sweet potato is heavy enough to induce sleep on its own. Yield: 2/3 servings.
- 4 large pieces frozen sweet potato
- 2 cups water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup milk or Greek yogurt
- Add sweet potatoes, water and salt to pot
- Boil at low heat until sweet potato is completely softened
- Remove from remaining water
- Add milk/ Greek yogurt to sweet potato and mash with fork until smooth OR add sweet potato and milk/ Greek yogurt to Nutribullet and blend for 30 seconds
Avocado Avalanche: From early on, it was clear that my son was an avocado lover. Should you be so lucky, sneaking other foods into baby’s diet will be easy. Mashed avocado was
mixed with minced and de-boned grouper for his first taste of fish, avocado mixed with spinach (blended) was his first intro to Popeye’s fave and blended oats and avocado one of the first “chewing meals” he had. When searching for a way for him to eat eggs without spitting them back at me, I picked the name of this recipe because anything avocado touches is a hit (corny, I know). Yield: 2 to 3 servings.
- One hardboiled egg
- ¼ medium avocado (not overly ripe)
- ½ tomato diced and seeds removed (optional)
- Dash onion powder or 1 slice white onion
- Dash of salt (optional – this dish is for a baby so be weary of salt)
- Mash everything together in a small bowl. The result will likely not be completely smooth unless you whip out a Nutribullet but it’s not necessary.
Okra and “Rice”: As a child I hated okra and rice. The hate was almost as strong for bhagi and rice. As a parent, I’ve combined the two recipes to introduce my child to a distinctly Caribbean flavor and the very good for you spinach. Don’t look for white rice or pig foot in this version. Yield: 2-4 servings
- ¼ cup quinoa (I like the rainbow version but certainly any colour will do)
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
- 2 okras tops removed and diced
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 2 slices white/ yellow onion
- ½ pimento pepper (seeds removed)
- ½ cup baby spinach (if ya fancy) or old fashioned (and very cheap) bhagi – chopped into small pieces and stems removed
- Combine all ingredients in large saucepan
- Cover and simmer on medium heat until all liquid disappears
- Remove from heat. Leave covered for 10-15 minutes (steam will “bloom” the quinoa)
- If baby has few teeth, blend in Nurtibullet with ¼ teaspoon water as needed
Pumpkin Not so Choka with Chia: I love chokas of all kinds. You had me at geera. To introduce baby to these flavours was a bit of a stretch for me. I was worried about the oil
so, I came up with a way to make a version of my fave food with no oil and some chia – a touted super food with loads of omega 3 fatty acids. Yield: 2 to 4 servings.
- ½ butternut squash or ¼ pound pumpkin (seeds and skin removed)
- 1/4 tomato
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ teaspoon butter
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin or roasted geera power
- ¼ small yellow onion
- 2 teaspoons chia
- Add pumpkin, onion, tomato and water to saucepan
- Boil pumpkin/ squash in water until soft
- Remove from water
- Add butter and mash until relatively smooth
- Stir in chia seeds
Variation: Blend with 1/8 cup cooked quinoa for heavier meal.
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