Celebrated as one of the least allergenic of all grains, rice is traditionally one of the first solid foods served to babies. As do-it-yourself baby foods grow in popularity, it’s no wonder parents are turning to rice as an important versatile grain that makes a perfect first food, and can easily be combined with other healthy ingredients.
Homemade baby food is easy to prepare and budget friendly, and rice is not only easily digestible, it’s an excellent way to control baby’s intake of sodium. Sodium intake is too high for most north Americans, including our youngest ones. Preparing homemade rice-based baby food is a great way to control exactly what goes into their meals while introducing them to new textures and flavours of solid foods.
Earlier this year, the USA Rice Federation launched a recipe contest called Rice, Rice Baby! in search of original rice-based baby food recipes. Participants submitted their favorites for the chance to win $500. Last week, an independent panel of five baby judges (with a little help from their parents) selected the winning recipes at an event hosted by Erica Ehm, publisher of YummyMummyClub.ca, at Toronto’s Liaison College.
The competition was fierce but the decision was unanimous: the first place winner was Yummy Rice Pudding. Naturally sweetened with banana and apple, the ingredients in this pudding are cooked down and then puréed to provide the perfect balance of sweetness and consistency for little palates.
Yummy Rice Pudding
Serve this sweet treat warm, at room temperature or cold, depending on your baby’s preference. Submitted by Shelly Stetsko, Castlegar, British Columbia.
1/2 cup uncooked white or brown rice
2 cups water
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 mashed banana
1/4 cup rice milk or cow’s milk
Pinch cinnamon (optional)
Combine rice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover; reduce heat and cook until rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
Stir in apple, banana and milk and cook 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
Makes 4 servings.
Note: For younger babies process until smooth, adding more milk if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
Per 1/4 cup (50 mL) serving: about 130 cal, 32 g carbs, 2 g fibre, 0 g fat, 2 g protein, 1 mg iron.
The first Runner Up: Avocado Banana Rice Mash. The mild flavours and creamy textures of avocado and banana team up in this simple mash that is sweetened with a little applesauce and fortified with cooked rice. The avocado used in this recipe provides a source of 20 different nutrients including fibre, folic acid and vitamin E, all of which are essential for a healthy baby. As the only ingredient that requires cooking in this recipe is the rice, parents will appreciate this quick and healthy meal solution for days on the run.
Avocado Banana Rice Mash
Keep in mind that the mash does discolour as the avocado and bananas oxidize but it won’t affect the flavour or nutritional value. Avocado is a source of 20 different nutrients including fibre, folic acid and vitamin E, which are all essential for a healthy baby. Bananas provide vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium and fibre which aid in baby’s healthy growth and development. Submitted by Jodi Lariviere, Ottawa, Ontario.
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
1/2 avocado, mashed
1/2 banana, mashed
3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
Stir together rice, avocado, banana and applesauce until well combined. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.
Makes 8 servings.
Per 1/4 cup (50 mL) serving: about 50 cal, 9 g carbs, 1 g fibre, 2 g fat, 1 g protein.
Recipe and image source: www.riceinfo.com