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Baby Food by Stage

Happy Family’s founder shares some of her favorite recipes for baby.

Baby Food by Stage

Baby’s first feeding is a huge milestone. And while we know it’s fun and exciting, it’s also overwhelming and sometimes even nerve-wracking. It’s not always easy to create healthy, nutritious meals when we’re busy or distracted or simply trying to adjust to a picky palette. But, what your child eats during those first few months and years has the potential to impact him for his entire life.

Nobody knows this better than the founder of Happy Family Brands, Shazi Visram, who’s been helping moms provide healthy food for their babies for 10 years. “From the moment you conceive through your child’s second birthday is a vital period where everything you feed yourself and your child will ultimately shape their healthy eating habits,” she says. “Tastes develop in the womb and these seemingly small decisions will result in big outcomes for your child’s future.”

Shazi’s celebrating Happy Family’s 10th anniversary in a big way -- she just published The Happy Family Organic Superfoods Cookbook For Baby & Toddler, with more than 70 easy-to-prepare recipes made with wholesome and easy-to-find ingredients for children from 4 months and beyond, AND gave birth to her second baby, Asha (son, Zane is 6 years old).

Below, Shazi shares some insights on balancing her babies, business and book, and provides 3 easy recipes for your baby, no matter what his stage. Read along, then make your own baby feeding journey easier by winning a package of Happy Family baby & toddler food and Shazi's new cookbook here!

How's the juggle with Baby #2 going and when will she start eating solids?

It’s crazy but we’re excited to add to our family, Zane is loving being a big brother. We recommend starting at 6 months, but different babies have different timelines and some express an interest early and are developmentally ready to start sooner. It's really up to the parent, but they shouldn't be in a hurry to introduce solids, it should be from the baby's cues. Zane started at 6 months after starting to want to eat and was leaning in when he was near foods so we started with avocado. My guess is Asha will likely start around then with an egg yolk and freeze, or dried liver and then avocados..but we will see!

What prompted you to write a cookbook?

We want young families to embrace a life of health together and this begins in the kitchen. We want them to share and connect with food and get involved with the process of cooking with the family because it builds a lifetime of fun memories. However, if busy families don’t always have time to get in the kitchen, we offer a wide range of convenient and nutritious products for babies through adults.

What are some of your favorite baby "superfoods" when you're cooking for your own family?

For me, personally, I like to use salmon because of the healthy fats and omegas. Chia is great if you want a plant-based version. I'm always looking for more healthy fats!

What's your best piece of advice for a new mom starting her baby on solids?

This will be a developmental period for you and your child, but it will be an enjoyable one. Babies will let you know when they are ready by leaning in and showing an interest in food. Try one item at a time over a few day or a week and go slow! I know it’s fun to see your baby make progress but don’t push it! Start with a veggie or a protein like egg yolk to not, start with sweet fruits…and you can use breast milk mixed in to make the first bites easy to accept!

4+Months: STEAMED VEGETABLE PUREES

Ingredients:

CHOOSE ANY ONE VEGETABLE OPTION:

10–12 green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 small to medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 11/2 cups)

4 medium carrots, peeled or unpeeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

4–5 cups chopped Swiss chard (leaves coarsely chopped, stalks finely chopped; see Note)

Breast milk or formula, as needed 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 CUPS

Directions:

1. Fill a pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Put the vegetables in a steamer basket and place in the pot. Cover and steam until tender, about 7 minutes for green beans and zucchini, 8 minutes for carrots, and 3–5 minutes for chard. Remove the steamer basket and let

the vegetables cool. Reserve the steaming liquid.

2. Working with one vegetable at a time, transfer the vegetables to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add the reserved steaming liquid or breast milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to thin the puree; it should pour easily and have a consistency slightly thicker than heavy cream. Blend in the butter until melted.

3. Serve immediately. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or freeze in individual portions (see page 16) for up to
3 months.

Note: It’s best to wait until baby is at least six months old to introduce dark leafy greens so she
can digest them. But when you start, don’t overlook Swiss chard. It’s just as nutritious as kale and spinach. It’s part of the beet family and has vitamins A and C, as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron. Select red Swiss chard or rainbow chard, which are sweeter than the white-stalked variety.

6+months: CARROT -CINNAMON BROWN RICE WITH YOGURT

Stimulate your baby’s senses with this sweet, lightly spiced puree. It boasts beta-carotene, protein, fiber, and vitamin B6, as well as the calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium that are beneficial for growth and the formation of bones. Both cinnamon and cumin give baby a taste of something unique.

Spices like cinnamon help expand your baby’s palate.

Ingredients:

3 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons raisins

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

MAKES 1 1/4 CUPS

Directions:

1. Fill a pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Distribute the carrots in a steamer basket and place in the pot. Cover and steam until tender, 8–10 minutes. Remove the steamer basket from the pot and let the carrots cool.

2. In a food processor or blender, combine the carrots, rice, yogurt, raisins, cinnamon, and cumin. Puree until smooth or until the desired consistency is achieved.

3. Serve immediately. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Switch it Up: If your child is dairy-free, use an unsweetened Greek-style coconut yogurt in place of regular yogurt. Naturally lactose-free, it complements the flavor profile and provides healthy fats and B vitamins.

12+ months: CARROT & SPINACH MEATBALLS

Give the classic meatball a nourishing makeover! There’s no picking around the veggies here, since the carrots and spinach are mixed into the meat. Ground turkey is a lower-fat alternative to beef, and the veggies enhance the meatballs’ beneficial nutritional profile. This dish also includes fat-soluble vitamins A and K for eye health, immunity, and blood clotting.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey

2 large carrots, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)

1 lb frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup bread crumbs

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

11/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/
1 2 teaspoons dried dill

Salt and pepper (optional)

MAKES ABOUT 40 MEATBALLS

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, carrots, spinach, cheese, bread crumbs, eggs, oregano, dill, and a pinch each of salt and pepper, if using. Mix with your hands until well combined.

3. Form about 2 tablespoons of the turkey mixture into a 1-inch ball and set it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining turkey mixture to form about 40 meatballs. Bake the meatballs, turning once halfway through baking, until golden brown, 20–24 minutes total. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 4 months.

Switch it Up: Meatballs can be served on their own with a favorite sauce or with pasta of your choice. Make the dish gluten-free by using gluten-free bread crumbs.

In This Article

    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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