5 Remarkable Health Benefits Of Lentils For Babies

Health Benefits Of Lentils For Babies

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Lentils are rich in nutrition. They are high in protein, low in fat and support our digestive system. The pulse variety is a must-have in our food plate, but can we give lentils for babies? More than that, will the baby like to eat lentils?

Read on as MomJunction tells you about the benefits of lentils for babies and how you can make it interesting for your baby through various tasty recipes.

Benefits Of Lentils For Babies

Lentils belong to the legume family and are fiber-rich. The protein-rich food adds the right amount of nutrition to the baby’s diet on a daily basis (1). Here’s a quick look at benefits of lentils for baby:

  1. Digestion: A half cup of lentils has almost eight grams of fiber. Eating fiber-rich foods will help clear your baby’s digestive system, deal with constipation and in regular bowel movement. It will also prevent weight gain issues in later years.
  1. Energy: A half cup of lentils contain about 3.3mg of iron. By six months of age, the natural iron storage in your baby’s body could reduce and thus, you will have to add it to the diet. Iron-rich foods will help your baby stay active and energetic, besides aiding in brain development.
  1. Immunity: Zinc present in lentils promotes healthy immune system.
  1. Calcium promotes bone health.
  1. Half cup lentils contain nearly 179 micrograms of folate. Folate is a kind of vitamin B that helps in the formation of new cells in your baby’s body.
NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1/2 cup (99 g) lentils, cooked, boiled, without salt
Amount Per Serving
Calories 115
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 2mg
Total Carbohydrate 20g
Dietary Fiber 8g
Sugars 2g
Protein 9g
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database

[ Read: High Fiber Rich Foods For Babies ]

When To Introduce Lentils To Baby?

Add lentils to your baby’s diet between 8 and 10 months of age. As lentils are rich in fiber and protein, it might be difficult for a six months baby to digest.

While feeding lentils for the first few times, add some vegetables to avoid any digestion issues.

Allergies associated with lentils are very rare. However, talk to your doctor before introducing any new food to your baby. Generalities may not apply to your little one.

Do not introduce too many new foods to your baby at once. Check for any symptoms of allergy or discomfort in your baby and stop the new food immediately if you notice any.

Note: Lentils may not be suitable for babies with G6PD Deficiency.

What Types Of Lentils Are Good For Babies?

Lentils come in different sizes, shapes, and colors such as red lentils (masoor dal), orange lentils, and yellow lentils. Some of them cook faster while a few take a longer time.

Red lentils are smoother and can cook faster than others. They are the best for purees and soups for your baby. The lower fiber content in them may not cause gas. Brown lentils, too, suit for baby food recipes.

Older babies enjoy well-cooked green lentils or puy lentils as finger foods, once they are ready for it. Other lentil varieties include black lentils and white lentils.

Cooked lentils, particularly mushed varieties, can be frozen. Cook brown or green lentils partially if you want to freeze them. Dried lentils can be stored for a year in a cool place.

Avoid canned lentils for babies as they have high chances of building gas. However, their nutritional levels are similar to dried varieties, as long as there is no extra salt or sugar added.

How To Select And Cook Lentils For Babies?

You may choose packed or loose lentils. Spread them out and check out for stones or debris. After a thorough check, rinse lentils under running water in a strainer.

You do not have to soak lentils before cooking. However, some people find it easy to cook if lentils are soaked for an hour. Throw away the water after soaking.

Directions to cook lentils:

  • Add three cups water and one cup lentils to a pan and bring it to a boil.
  • Get the flame down and cover it with a lid. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • If you want firmer lentils, cook for lesser time.

Note: Green lentils take around 30 minutes, and red lentils take about 20 minutes to cook. Brown lentils are the slowest to cook.

Feed cooked lentils in the puree form to your baby. Add a vegetable to the puree to avoid digestion issues. You may also add fresh ginger to the puree to deal with digestion.

Note: Do not add sugar or salt, it may affect the nutritional value.

[ Read: How To Prepare Baby Food At Home ]

Recipes To Prepare Lentils For Babies

Here are a few interesting and easy baby food recipes with lentils:

1. Lentils Puree With Vegetables

Lentils puree with vegetables

Image: iStock

Preparation time: 40 minutes

You will need:

  • 1tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, bell pepper, tomato, green peas, sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup lentils (cooked)
  • 1 cup water or vegetable broth

How to:

  1. Pour a little oil in a pan. Add onion, bell pepper and sauté.
  2. After five minutes, add tomato and cook for two minutes. Add water or vegetable broth and cover the pan with a lid.
  3. Let it cook for 10 minutes on low flame. Switch off the flame and blend the mixture with well-cooked lentils to get desired consistency.

2. Lentils With Carrots And Brown Rice (Dal Rice)

Lentils with carrots and brown rice (dal rice)

Image: iStock

Preparation time: 50 minutes

You will need:

  • Water as needed
  • 1/4 cup lentils or moong dal
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/4 cup carrots (finely chopped)

How to:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a pan and allow it to boil. Add enough water.
  2. Lower the flame and let it cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Check if the lentils turned tender and soft. Once they are done, mash.
  4. Blend it if you desire.

3. Lentil Patties (Cakes)

Lentil patties (cakes)

Image: iStock

Preparation time: 60 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cup water
  • 1-ounce dry onion soup mix
  • 1 cup barley and wheat nugget cereal
  • 1/2tsp poultry (seasoning)
  • 1/2 cups walnuts (chopped)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs

How to:

  1. Add water and lentils to a pan and bring it to a boil. Lower the flame and cook for 20 minutes with a closed lid.
  2. After cooking, drain extra water and add in milk, eggs, cereal, wheat, and walnuts.
  3. Season with onion soup mix and poultry seasoning as well. Mix well and let it stand for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
  4. Pour oil into a skillet and heat on medium flame. Scoop out the mixture and roll the balls in bread crumbs. Flatten the patties and fry them in the oil for five minutes.

[ Read: Brown Rice For Babies ]

4. Pureed Lentil Soup With Apricots

Pureed Lentil soup with apricots

Image: Shutterstock

Preparation time: 60 minutes

You will need:

  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 carrot (peeled, cut)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped)
  • 3 1/4 cup water

How to:

  1. Saute carrots and onions in hot oil for 10 minutes. Add cumin and lower the flame.
  2. Add vegetables, lentils, and enough water. Bring them to boil. Lower the flame and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Cool the mixture, transfer it to a blender and puree it. Add the apricots and puree further.

5. Curried Lentils

Curried Lentils

Image: iStock

Preparation time: 30 minutes

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup carrots, onion, celery (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup lentils
  • Tofu

How to:

  1. Sauté vegetables, cloves and tofu cubes. Add these to lentils that have been cooking.
  2. Add curry powder for taste.

6. Lentil And Sweet Potato Soup

Lentil and sweet potato soup

Image: iStock

Preparation time: 30 minutes

You will need:

  • 1tbsp pigeon peas (toor dal, arhar dal) or lentils
  • ¼ sweet potato (peeled, chopped)
  • a pinch of dry roasted cumin
  • 2 cups water

How to:

  1. Add all the ingredients into a pan and cook well.
  2. Mash them and strain through a sieve.

Introduce the protein and fiber-rich lentils for your baby when he is ready for it. Add your little one’s favorite foods to make it interesting. Foods good to mix with lentils are sweet potato, dried beans, white potato, grapes, peaches, apples, pork tofu, etc.

[ Read: Brain Food For Babies ]

Have you started introducing lentil to your baby? If yes, do share your tips and suggestions in the comments below.

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