This is an excerpt from my book ‘Mila’s Meals: The Beginning & The Basics’
I’m talking about egg yolk, ghee, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, olive oil, sauerkraut liquid, kefir, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla, ginger, cardamom, allspice, turmeric, broth, dulse, liver, blackstrap molasses, baobab, cacao, hemp, lucuma, maca, moringa.
It is important for me to make every mouthful of food that Mila swallows as nutritious as possible because:
- Good nutrition is so important at this stage of life
- Only a small amount of food is going to go in (at the beginning for some, or forever like with Mila)
- And because a lot of food is going to be turned away or spat out when the toddler emerges…
So I developed a list of ‘nutrient enhancers’ – nutrient-dense foods which can be added to almost any purée or meal without significantly changing the taste, texture or appearance… because trust me… there is no greater food detective than an 18-month old!
An excellent example of where nutrient enhancers shine their bright light is in the preparation of plain noodles.
“Plain noodles?” I can hear you exclaim!
Trust me, there will come a time when your toddler will only want to eat plain noodles, repeatedly, for months on end – and you will make them for her… because you need to choose your battles wisely, because it is the end of a long day, because you have another baby to take care of or because you are tired!
So this is as plain as Mila’s plain noodles got:
I cooked the gluten-free noodles in bone broth with some seaweed (wakame or kombu). Once cooked, I stirred in a raw egg yolk, some coconut oil, a pinch of sea salt and a sprinkle of dulse. Ta da! Plain noodles… that were eaten with glee!
Get creative… there is no end to how sneaky you can be!
Nutrient Enhancer: Why is it valuable?
Eggs are a source of high-quality protein and have all the B vitamins (including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12), as well as choline, biotin, folate and cholesterol, selenium, iodine, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D and E.
Avoid the egg whites for your little one’s first year as these contain difficult-to-digest proteins and are what usually cause an allergic reaction. Egg yolks should be softly cooked in the beginning, but from 1 year of age you can add them in raw. They can be blended into all plant-based purées to add fat and protein.
Hemp seed oil
Adding some healthy fats to your little one’s plant-based purées and meals will aid the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K.
Healthy fats are essential for your little one’s brain development
These will supply probiotics – vital friendly gut bacteria that complete the digestion process, produce vitamins, keep pathogenic (‘bad’) bacteria in check, and support the immune system.
Spices are a great way to develop your little one’s flavour palette. They also have medicinal qualities and are a source of nutrients.
Cinnamon is a great source of manganese, fibre, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamin A. It is known to have antioxidant, anti-diabetic, antiseptic, local
anaesthetic, anti-inflammatory, warming and anti-flatulent properties.
Nutmeg is a good source of potassium, calcium, iron, manganese, vitamins A, B’s and C. It is a useful remedy for: insomnia, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, indigestion (gas) and
diarrhoea as well as being anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
Cloves are a great source of manganese, vitamin K, dietary fibre, iron, magnesium and calcium. They are well known for their ability to relieve tooth and gum pain, aid digestion
and provide relief from asthma and bronchitis.
Vanilla has antioxidant, anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. It is a remedy for headaches, motion sickness, nausea, indigestion, wind, colic, cold,
flu, bronchitis. Ginger tea is a useful remedy for morning sickness. It boosts the immune system and protects against bacteria and fungi.
Cardamom is a great source of iron, manganese, potassium, calcium, magnesium, dietary fibre, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. It is used as an antiseptic, antispasmodic,
carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic. It is a remedy for sore throats, constipation, indigestion and colic.
Allspice has a good amounts of potassium, manganese, iron, copper, selenium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. It has antiinflammatory,
warming and soothing and anti-flatulent properties and is known to aid digestion.
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and an excellent source of iron, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin C and magnesium
Instead of using water to thin a purée or to cook the vegetables in, use bone broth.
- builds a healthy gut and digestion
- aids muscle repair and growth
- fights inflammation
- creates a balanced nervous system and a strong immune system
- inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses
- helps protein and mineral absorption
- promotes strong, healthy bones
It is a source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur, boron, zinc, peptides (healing amino acids and natural antibiotics), collagen, omega-9s, iron, vitamin B6 and B12.
All the nutrients are easily absorbed by your little one’s body (bio-available).
Dulse is an excellent source of calcium, potassium and vitamin B12 – making it a useful addition to any dairy-free or vegan diet. It is also a great source of protein, vitamins B6 and A, iron, phosphorus, manganese and iodine.
Sprinkle dulse flakes into purées, or other meals.
Liver is an excellent source of high quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B complex (including choline, B12 and folate), a highly bio-available form of iron, vitamin D, vitamin E, pre-formed vitamin A (retinol), vitamin K2, various amino acids and trace minerals such as copper, zinc, chromium and cholesterol.
A small amount (1 teaspoon) of raw liver can be grated into any purée. The liver must be frozen for 2 weeks before using it raw (fourteen days will ensure the elimination of pathogens and parasites). Alternatively add some Chicken Liver pâté into purées of other meals.
Blackstrap molasses is one way to boost your little one’s iron intake. Its other nutrients include manganese, copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and selenium. It can be useful in alleviating constipation (but too much will cause diarrhoea).
Mila often had molasses added to her purées and many of her muffins and cookies. It is also an ingredient in the homemade formula.
The superfoods are a blessing to any new parent stressing about getting enough nutrients into their little one! Granted, they are expensive, but a little goes a long way so they are not
something you will need to add to your shopping list every month.
Mila (now age 3) is an exceptionally picky eater – she will not eat anything that looks like a vegetable. She actually stopped eating chips (homemade in coconut oil!) when she found out they were made from potatoes! Superfoods have been my saving grace. While I do hide vegetables in all of Mila’s food, I am secure in the knowledge that any nutrient shortfall is being covered by these easy-to-hide, and in most cases delicious, powders.
Baobab contains six times more vitamin C than an orange, twice as much calcium as a glass of milk and more iron than a steak, three times more antioxidants than blueberries and six times more potassium than a banana! It is also a good source of magnesium, potassium and B vitamins. Due to its easily digestible calcium content it is an excellent addition to your little one’s diet if you are avoiding dairy. Baobab protects against free radical damage, builds strong bones, boosts the immune system and soothes tummy upsets.
Cacao is said to be the food with the highest levels of antioxidants of any food on Earth. It also contains high amounts of iron and magnesium as well as vitamin C, fibre, calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, copper and zinc. The most important healing benefit of cacao is… pure joy!
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, fibre, carbohydrates, iron, zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium, potassium, carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B6 and E. They improve the functioning of the immune system, support brain health, regulate blood sugar, and soothe eczema and psoriasis.
Lucuma is an excellent source of carbohydrates, fibre, protein, beta-carotene, niacin and vitamin C. It a good source of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc and it has remarkable concentrations of iron. Lucuma has antibiotic, antimicrobial and antifungal benefits. It can help stabilise blood sugar, boost the immune system and speed up the healing process.
Maca is a complete protein and has over 20 amino acids. It an excellent source of vitamins B, C, and E, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, copper, selenium and fatty acids.
Moringa is an excellent source of vitamins A, B, and C, calcium, iron, potassium and it is a complete protein. Moringa leaves are also one of the few plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Moringa boosts the immune system and can benefit conditions such as anaemia, asthma, constipation and diarrhoea.