4 Grown-Up Meals That You Can Also Feed Your Baby
This article has been reviewed by Judy Kivowitz, registered pediatric nurse.
I’m kind of a snob about food. When I was pregnant, I fantasized about the little epicurean I would raise to appreciate anchovies and runny egg yolks and farmer’s market tomatoes. I couldn’t wait for him to turn 6 months so we could start feeding him solids. One night we were eating takeout from our favorite Szechuan restaurant and I offered him a tiny bite of mapo tofu. It was extremely spicy. I don’t know what I was thinking. It did not go well.
The experience made me realize something very obvious: you do have to make some capitulation to your baby’s immature palate. But I didn’t want to make too much. I became obsessed with thinking of meals that my husband and I were genuinely happy to eat that also resulted in something baby-friendly with minimal adaptation. What follows are some of the biggest wins from that brainstorming: meals for adults that can easily be adapted to serve tiny food snobs in training.
Tips from Oath's Nurse Judy:
- For all these recipes, use minimal salt while cooking—you want to limit salt for babies as much as possible. You can add more salt at the table to your own portion.
- It's important to do an "all done check" after the meal to make sure that your baby has not squirreled away some nuggets of food in their cheeks, which can be a choking hazard once they leave the table
Carrot, avocado, and fancy cheese salad
Use slender carrots or cut large ones into diagonal strips. Toss with olive oil and salt (a little less than you normally would) and roast at 425 for 15 – 25 minutes, turning once.
While the carrots are roasting, make the salad dressing: put 1/3 cup tahini in a large bowl. Add juice of one lemon or lime, one grated garlic clove, one tablespoon maple syrup, a little salt, and mix well. Then, slowly add 3 - 6 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, while mixing, until the dressing is creamy. This will make more dressing than you need so pour some into a jar to save for later.
In the same bowl where your salad dressing is, add 1 sliced avocado, a handful of arugula, and the roasted carrots. Toss in the dressing until well coated. Put some on everyone’s plate with a big hunk of fancy cheese on top: burrata, goat cheese, whatever.
For the baby:
Reserve some roasted carrots and avocado slices. You can mash them for spoon feeding, or leave them whole for baby led weaning. For this meal, do not feed to babies younger than 3 months old because of concerns around naturally occurring nitrites in carrots. The usual age for introducing solids is 6 months, so this should not be an issue anyway.
Saag paneer with rice
Heat some oil in a dutch oven and brown a hunk of paneer on both sides. Remove the paneer from the pan and set aside. Then add some chopped onion and cook until it begins to soften. Then add some chopped garlic and ginger, and a few teaspoons of powdered curry. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently.
Add a lot of chopped greens: spinach, kale, chard, broccoli rabe, frozen spinach, combination, whatever. Cook until wilted. Add 1/2 cup cream and 1.5 cups buttermilk, kefir, or even yogurt, cook 5 more minutes. At this point, if you want the entire meal to be baby friendly, you can optionally blend the greens until they are more of a puree (easiest with an immersion blender).
Chop the paneer and mix it in with the greens until heated through.
Eat over rice or with naan.
The baby can eat pieces of paneer, and the greens if you blend them.
Break up two sheets of matzo into bite sized pieces in a medium bowl, and cover with warm water for a couple of minutes. While the matzo is soaking, mix together 3-4 eggs and a tiny bit of salt in a large bowl. Drain the matzo, then add it to the egg mixture.
Heat some oil in a medium non-stick pan over medium heat. Once it’s shimmering, add the egg-matzo mixture and smooth it out so it fills the whole pan evenly. Let it cook for a few minutes, until the underside is golden brown (left a bit with a spatula to check). Carefully slide everything onto a plate, then invert the pan over the plate to cook until the other side is golden brown and the center is cooked through. (Instead of inverting the whole thing on a plate, you can also just use a spatula to cut the brei into wedges and flip one at a time.)
Eat with lots of black pepper, and, optionally: lox, creme fraiche and dill.
Skip the lox, which is too salty for babies. Egg whites are a potential high allergy food, so when having them for the first time, do it at a time when you can be keeping an eye on them for at least an hour—so not right before bed.
Put some small yellow or red potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by about an inch. Add a big spoonful of salt, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cook uncovered until tender, 10-15 minutes. Scoop out the potatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Bring the water back to a boil and blanch some green beans for 2-3 minutes. Scoop out the green beans and set aside.
Drain all but a half inch of water from the pot. Bring it back to a boil, add 4 eggs, cover and cook at medium heat for 8 minutes. Put the eggs in a bowl of cold water to cool down.
While stuff is boiling, make a vinaigrette: in a small jar, add 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, and 1 small shallot finely chopped (you can skip the shallot if you don’t feel like chopping). Shake vigorously.
Everything up to this point you can prep in advance. When you’re ready to eat, spread out on a plate: the potatoes (sliced), green beans, hard boiled eggs quartered, some kalamata olives, capers, chopped tomatoes, sliced radishes, and a can of oil-packed tuna. Drizzle vinaigrette over everything.
Set aside some of the green beans and hard boiled eggs before you dress the salad (dressed is also fine, just messier!). If this is your baby's first time eating egg, make sure to do it at a time when you can observe them for at least an hour since egg whites are a potential allergen (or just serve the yolk if you can't observe for an hour). It's also okay to give the baby a little tuna, but limit how often you give it because of mercury concerns.
For this meal, do not feed to babies younger than 3 months old because of concerns around naturally occurring nitrites in green beans. The usual age for introducing solids is 6 months, so this should not be an issue anyway.