Scroll down for the “what’s what” on whole grains
Ground Grains from Whole Food Sources such as Oats, Quinoa, Millet & Brown Rice offer much more nutrition than instant shelf brands. Using the basic recipe below of a 1:4 ratio of ground grains to water, you can tweak for varying textures and consistency depending on your little eater’s preference. Cooked ground grains can be blended in with any other food for a great super-food.
Cooking Your Grains
Nurture Naturally Ground Grains come in ¼ cup powdered portions for your convenience. Simply bring 1 cup of water to boil, whisk in 1 portion of grains, cover & simmer for 10 minutes, whisking frequently to avoid scorching. When finished, divide into 4 portions (or 2 large portions for big eaters). Feed baby 1 portion immediately and store the other 3 portions for up to 3 days. Grains may be mixed with any other fruit, vegetable or protein. NOTE: adjust water depending on baby’s preference; new eaters may need a bit more water for a smoother consistency while older babies may prefer thicker, chunkier grains. (Millet & Quinoa may need more water as they are a small, dense grain–just add a bit as you go. Oats are light and fluffy, so you may want to start with a little less than 1 cup and add as necessary. If they are too runny, simply boil off excess water or add to a thicker food like sweet potato.)
(STORAGE: Store your extra grains the refrigerator for up to 30 days.)
WARNING: If you need to buy a store brand cereal for baby, carefully read the ingredients label to avoid sweeteners, artificial flavours, and vanillin. These are all harmful to baby’s nutrition and tastes. Choose a brand that is organic and has few ingredients.
Why Baby’s Grains Must Be Ground
Grinding whole grains has nothing to do with textures but everything to do with digestion. Whole grains are difficult to digest so the grinding/cooking with extra water helps, especially at first. It is recommended to only start feeding baby ground, cooked whole grains at age 6 months or older. I fined that Organic Oats and Organic Millet are easiest on baby’s tummy. At 7 months, you can grind Quinoa; 8 months, Organic Brown Rice, as well as other healthy extras such as lentils, beans, flax seeds, etc. By 9 months, you should be able to make “one-pot meals” using the whole grains not ground; I just make sure they cook extra long. (check my facebook and gallery page for ideas of what to “throw in the pot”)
Do It Yourself Grinding
It’s fun, easy and satisfying to cook healthy options for baby. Grinding grains can be part of your cooking experience used long after baby is done with pureed foods. “Healthy Extras” can be added (or hidden) in many different ways. Being prepared is half the battle.
Purchase the least expensive coffee grinder you can find. I bought my last one at Checkers for R199. Expensive grinders do not do a better job AND sometimes grains are hard on a grinder–so better to burn out a cheap one, than an expensive one. I find that they’re lasting MUCH longer when I do small amounts of grinding and let it “rest” between. I’ve burned out quite a few grinders, but I think I have the formula now!
Once cooked, grains last in the fridge for 3 days. The 1/4 cup of ground grains cooks into 4 small portions; so you feed one the first day and then they keep for 3 additional days (perfect). If you’re going to cook a larger batch and want to freeze, be sure to mix the cooked grain in with another food. Frozen grains by themselves get very spongey when thawed, but they freeze in a blend nicely.
You can grind extra grains, beans, flax, etc. and keep it in an airtight container (preferably glass) for quite a while. Flax may go rancid after about a week, but the regular grains can keep for up to 30 days! Throw left-over grains in anything you’re baking for “healthy extras.” Believe me, my family has no idea that they had ground split peas in their flap-jack badder last weekend 😉 ….seriously, it was delicious.
Organic grains are expensive. There’s no way around that. But remember that you’re grinding 1/4 cup at a time, so a bag of Organic Oats will last quite a while. I have found that Organic Quinoa is simply too expensive, and often not in stock around PE, so for that and other “healthy extras” (flax, pumpkin seeds, etc) I use a trusted non-GMO brand found in health shops.
After Baby Food
I realize the baby food stage has a rather short window, but if you have the budget for a grinder (remember, get the cheapest one) then you can use it for many things: grinding pumpkin seeds to put in flap-jack or muffin badder, grinding flax seeds to add to ANYTHING, grinding beans to cook the same as the porridge at about 7-8 months. I still use my grinder for cooking and my kids are 9 & 10 years old! So if you think it’s worth your time/money, I highly recommend it.
Here’s a list of what you can grind (in order for baby’s tummy)
(any other grain you want to try)
any Dried Bean
….don’t grind pasta….I’ve tried it and broken 2 grinders…yes, some people take a bit longer to learn…
Mix and match to make “Super Grain” batches to keep in your fridge. It can be quite fun and offer baby lots of varying textures and tastes.
Quinoa – This ‘super grain’ is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains and contains all 9 essential amino acids.
Millet – This gluten-free grain is highly nutritious and a great source of energy. It contains 8 amino acids and is a soothing, tasty food for baby. (if your baby has struggled with colic or reflux, millet is a great first grain—much easier on baby’s stomach than rice)
Oats – This easy to digest grain has been a staple food for baby for centuries. It is a tasty and heart-healthy addition to a variety of grain options.
Brown Rice – When compared to white rice, there is no question….brown rice is the way to go. High in vitamins and rich in fiber, brown rice is a common food for baby. If baby is having tummy trouble with brown rice, mix with millet, quinoa, or oats for easier digestion.
Polenta – This high-energy maize packs a healthy punch. It is a lower carbohydrate alternative with Vitamin A and C. If your baby likes pap, she will LOVE polenta (and you’ll love the health benefits). *you won’t need to grind*
Lentils – Rich in fiber, lentils add an energy punch and a boost to your heart health. Be careful not too feed baby too many at one time, as it may cause upset stomach.
Flax Seeds (Linseed) – This anti-oxidant rich food can help baby’s tummy stay regular while providing essential omega 3 fatty acids to the diet.
Pumpkin Seeds – High in Zinc, pumpkin seeds provide antioxidant and mineral support so that vitamins from other foods can be properly absorbed into the body.
*Please discuss your feeding plan with your pediatrician. Be sure to use the 3 Day Wait Rule for introducing new foods.