Please check out my latest podcast on DocSmo.com! Doc Smo is a pediatrician and prolific podcaster with whom I’ve collaborated to bring you interesting tidbits about kids and food.
Here are some notes and highlights from our conversation about how cultures around the world introduce their babies to the world of food! Visit your local Asian and Indian markets to find ingredients.
Doc Smo: Dr. Rouchouze, before we get started, can I get you to by define a few terms for us. I know that we when we did our pre-show conversation, there were terms came up that we should define for or listeners- specifically weaning, complementary foods, and porridge, broth, and sweet versus savory foods.
Dr. Charlotte Rouchouze:
- Weaning– going off breast milk
- Complementary foods– foods that are added to the baby’s diet of breast milk
- Porridge– a cooked combination of grain and liquid
- Broth– a liquid in which vegetables or meats have been cooked, extracting some of the flavor and nutrients
- Savory is simply a word that distinguishes a food from being sweet.
Doc Smo question: Let’s start in Japan, shall we? Can you tell us how Japanese mothers introduce complementary foods please.
Dr. Charlotte Rouchouze: Rice based porridges are common; Similar to Chinese congee. Main ingredients of baby foods are rice, fish, broth, egg yolk (hardboiled), vegetables. Dashi broth – available at Asian stores in powder form, or can be quickly made by making a kind of tea from bonito flakes and kombu, both available at Asian stores. Bonito is smoked, dried tuna that is sliced into very fine flakes and used to make broth. There is a traditional party when baby gets first foods – okuizome – a ceremony with family and colorful dishes. Small quantities of food are made fresh for every meal.
Recipe from Japan:
Japanese-style baby dish
- 1 small portion of white fish, cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp soft tofu
- 3 tbsp dashi or other broth
Brew the dashi or other stock. Add to tofu and fish in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
Doc Smo: OK, Dr. Rouchouze- It’s time to move on. I understand that you have aPhD in French literature and you have a very French sounding name, I’ll bet you know a thing or two about French baby food and the way the French women wean their babies. Can you share that with my listeners please?
Dr. Rouchouze: Lots of pureed soups called veloutés made with leeks, potatoes, carrots, or other vegetables. Cheese or pureed fish or meat may be added. Frozen veloutés are great in France- they come in pellet shapes and you can thaw and have instant baby food. There is a clearer separation of sweet and savory. French people have told me that they find the baby foods to be too mixed up in terms of sweet and savory. For the French, meal should be savory and dessert sweet, and no mixing. Small children are trained early to eat according to French norms- (times for eating are strictly defined; sitting at the table is essential; order of the meal is a savory main dish followed by a fruit compote and/or a dairy product, etc.) Lait de crossance or “growing milk”is very popular in France – there is some debate about this in the French medical community. It’s enriched in iron and fatty acids and reduced in proteins. There are also added flavors to cover the metallic taste.
Recipe from France:
French-style velouté for bébé
- 1 small potato, diced
- ½ leek, tender parts only, diced
- 1 inch cube of emmental (substitute gouda, swiss cheese, or a Babybel), shredded
Boil a pot of water and add the potatoes and leeks and cook until softened through. Drain and puree in a small food processor. Add a bit of milk to facilitate the pureeing. While still warm, add the cheese and stir through. Allow to cool and serve to baby. For a thinner soup, add milk to achieve desired texture.
Doc Smo: And our last stop on our trip around the baby culinary world for today will be India. How do moms in India introduce complementary foods?
Dr. Charlotte Rouchouze: There is a whole host of grains and legumes that you don’t see often in Western cuisine. A lot of times, recipes for using these are quite involved, and require long soaking periods, grinding in a “mixie”, etc. But if you buy the grains already ground, it’s pretty simple to try some of the Indian baby recipes. Ragi (also called Finger millet) is considered a very nutritious and important grain for babies. It is used to make a porridge. Often the very first food, though, is the cooking liquid from various legumes such as moong dal, a kind of lentil. Fat of choice is ghee– clarified butter, and jaggery, an unrefined sugar sometimes used to sweeten. If you want to try ragi, check out the recipe below.
- 2 tbsp ragi flour
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- enough milk or water cover
- Applesauce or mashed sweet potato to sweeten
Put the ragi and ghee into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the ragi begins to brown and smell nutty. Add milk and stir until thickened. For sweetness, add applesauce or sweet potato. Note: mashed sweet potatoes are available in frozen pellet form at Trader Joe’s and some other markets, and this makes a very convenient sweet addition to cooked cereals.
- Baby Weaning schedule by Japanese food company: http://www.wakodo.co.jp/english/product/meyasu/index.html
- Demonstration of making baby food by a Japanese mom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEZ4FatWZmc
- Article about lait de croissance, (in French): http://www.atlantico.fr/decryptage/lait-croissance-inutile-et-ruineux-comment-industrie-agroalimentaire-exploite-peurs-jeunes-parents-patrick-tounian-olivier-saint-979073.html/page/0/1
- Very thorough blog by an Indian mom: http://indianhealthyrecipes.com/ragi-porridge-babies-toddlers