The following is a guest post by my friend, Heather at The Mommypotamus.
What Do Spiced Curries, Masalas and Stews Have In Common?
It sounds crazy, right? After all, we’ve been told over and over that babies need bland foods, pureed thoroughly, with a dollop of “ick” heaped on top.
It’s not just industrial baby food makers that claim this, either. Many “organic” baby food cookbooks out there still hold the same basic philosophy popularized by doctors in the 1920′s. Back then bland, sieved vegetable soups were very popular, as were complaints that children refused to eat.
Here’s my take: Babies need real food. Their bodies have not yet ramped up the enzymatic processes needed to convert lots of vegetables into usable form (such as betacarotene into vitamin A), so it’s best if we supply them with foods in which the conversions have already been made.
When they show signs of readiness, egg yolks, bone broths and soft meats are all excellent complements to breast milk (either from mom or donated through a milk sharing program) or homemade formula. Of course, there’s room at the table for soft buttered carrots and fermented apple butter, too!
The best part? Even when it’s unmixed with spices, real food is not EVER bland! Avocados, meats and broths are delicious all by themselves (or better yet — with a pinch of unrefined sea salt to help promote healthy hormone, immune and nervous system function).
However, introducing savory foods early is a great way to help my children become adventurous eaters, and they love it! Aromatic flavors like cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, coriander, dill, ginger, sage and thyme are generally better than “hot” spices, but I bet you’ll find that little palates can handle a lot more than you thought!
Maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s good time management, but I do not cook extra meals in my house for anyone – even my sweet babies! Instead, I create baby friendly meals with a wide array of herbs and spices. Though I was worried they might choke at first, I eventually learned that spoon feeding can be more of a problem in that respect, so I decided to go with the baby-led weaning (not the dietary advice, just the stuff on allowing them to feed themselves!). My kids loved it, and I’m happy to say that they’ve both grown into adventurous eaters.
Did they love everything right away? No way. I often found that it took several opportunities to try a new food before they’d accept it, which was fine with me! Because I wasn’t creating specially prepared meals just for them, that simply meant more for me!
Heather’s daughter, Katie with a freshly shucked oyster.
Are You On The First Food Journey With Your Little One?
Great! This chili is my absolute favorite way to serve liver, which gram for gram contains more nutrients than any other food. Little ones love it, chili powder and all. It was one of my son’s favorites well before he turned a year old, and many moms have reported the same!
Here’s what Nicki, a reader who decided to give it a whirl with her 15 month old, told me last week:
“Oh my word! Oh my word! I tried this tonight… with beef livers. I had to puree them as well before sauteing with the onions and garlic. It was beyond delicious. Literally, beyond delicious. My husband who is kind of a “chili snob” likes my usual chili. But tonight after one bite he declared, “You need to enter this into a contest!” It was that good! My 15.5 month old could not get enough! Next time I will try with chicken liver but this will be my go to for getting liver in our diets. Thank you!!” — Nicki
Ready to get started? Here’s the recipe!
Ultimate Beef And Liver Chili
Beef, grass-fed, ground (2 pounds)
Liver (1 pound) — I use chicken, but beef would work, too
Onions, large, peeled and chopped (2-3)
Garlic, minced (5 cloves)
Coconut oil or beef tallow (1 TBS) where to buy coconut oil
Tomatoes, large, peeled and chopped (8 large) or peeled, diced tomatoes (25 oz.)
Chicken or beef stock, or water (1 cup)
Chili powder (4 TBS)
Cumin (1 tbs)
Coriander (1 tsp)
Pepper (2 tsp)
Oregano (1/2 tsp)
Allspice (1/2 tsp)
Unrefined sea salt (1 TBS) — you’ll probably want to add more, but if you happen to use stewed tomatoes or broth that has salt added this is a good place to start)
Instructions for the night before:
1. Trim chicken livers (To do this remove any white, stringy portions with your fingers or a knife)
2. Place livers in a medium bowl and cover with water
3. Squeeze in the juice of 2 lemons and place in fridge for at least 8-12 hours. This will neutralize some of the strong flavor of the liver
The next day:
1. Warm oil/tallow over medium heat.
2. Add onions, garlic and liver, mincing liver as finely as possible while you sautee.
3. When the onions are soft and the liver resembles a coarse paste(about 10 minutes), add ground beef and saute until brown.
4. Once the ground beef is browned, add the tomatoes and spices. If needed, pour in enough water/broth so that the meat is fully submerged.
5. Bring chili to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour.
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Share Your Comments Below
How do you nourish your little ones? Do you feed them nutrient-dense foods like oysters or liver?
Please share your thoughts and experiences below in the comments.
About Mommypotamus: Heather Dessinger, aka The Mommypotamus, is a wife, blogger, and mom to two amazing kiddos, both waterborn at home. She loves all things fermenty, talks to sock puppets, and dreams of owning a backyard flock of chickens.
Her e-cookbook, Nourished Baby, is a simple guide to first foods that explains why the birth experience affects cravings for life, how to decode nursing cravings, what the latest research says about introducing peanuts, eggs and other “allergenic” foods, and more.