13 Tasty quinoa recipes for babies and Its Health benefits

Quinoa

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You may be happy to see your baby enjoying solids like banana puree, infant cereal, and mashed carrots. But the baby’s first foods need not always be bland. Your little one is ready to experience other flavors too. Introduce a wide range of foods with varying textures and flavors. Exposure to healthy foods early in life will help develop a long-lasting taste for them.

Quinoa is one such nutritious grain that can make it to the list of your baby’s first foods. Experts believe that whole grains like quinoa and millet expose babies to the world of food textures, which is crucial for their oral development.

MomJunction tells you why Quinoa is a super food for your little one and shares some delicious recipes to make for your darling.

Why Is Quinoa A Great First Food?

Quinoa makes an excellent first food because it is:

  • easily digestible
  • a complete and balanced protein pack
  • enriched with natural plant-based vitamins and minerals
  • certified organic, gluten-free
  • non-GMO and kosher
  • free of added sugars, salts, or preservatives

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When To Introduce Quinoa To Babies?

The right age for introducing quinoa is between 8 and 10months. Many babies can tolerate it even before 8 months of age. But it is wise to wait until their digestive system improves. It is advisable to consult your pediatrician before introducing any solids to your little one. Generalities may or may not apply to your baby.

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Quinoa And Its Nutrition Facts

The ancient Incas called quinoa “the mother grain”. It is harvested and prepared in a process similar to that of rice and other grains. But it does not technically fall into the category of cereal grains. It is the seed of a green vegetable that resembles spinach! It can be cooked like a grain to replace rice and couscous.

Quinoa seeds are tiny and look like millet. Most commonly available quinoa type is ivory in color, but it can also be available in pink, brown, red and black varieties.

Let us take a look at the nutrient content of this amazing seed, and you’ll know what makes quinoa so popular.

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Nutritional Value Of Quinoa

NutrientUnitValue per 100 g
Waterg71.61
Energykcal120
proteing4.4
carbohydrate, by differenceg21.3
calciummg17
ironmg1.49
magnesiummg64
phospohorusmg152
potassiummg172
sodiummg7
zincmg1.09
vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg0
Vitamin B-6mg0.123
Vitamin B-12µg0
Vitamin A, IUIU5
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)mg0.63
Vitamin DIU0
Fatty acids, total saturatedg0.231
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg0.528
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg1.078

Source: ndb.nal.usda.gov

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Health Benefits Of Quinoa For Babies

The goodness of quinoa is alike for both babies and adults. It is full of fiber, calcium, folate, iron, etc. Since your baby develops fast during the first year, it is beneficial to offer the essential vitamins and minerals at this stage. Here are a few benefits of adding quinoa to your baby’s diet:

1. Contains essential amino acids

The seed is considered a complete protein containing a good amount of essential amino acids. In fact, the content of these nutrients are higher in quinoa than in common cereals.

2. Full of vitamins

Quinoa is full of vitamins. Your baby requires these vitamins for her development, both mental and physical. It contains a cluster of B group vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin and thiamine. All these are important for the production and release of energy.

3. Great source of minerals

Quinoa is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, etc. Your baby needs all these minerals to grow:

  • Calcium, phosphorous, and minerals are crucial for bone growth.
  • Iron aids in hemoglobin production, which in turn helps in taking in more oxygen.
  • Potassium is an electrolyte with minimum side effects.
  • Omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids are good for brain and eye development.

4. Provides antioxidants

Babies need to eat well because they need to grow faster. This requires high metabolism, which can lead to the production of free radical in their little bodies. Quinoa comes loaded with antioxidants, which can scavenge these free radicals and prevent DNA damage (2). Antioxidants also reduce oxidative stress in the body.

5. Supports digestion

The high amount of fiber makes quinoa a good laxative. Adding it to your baby’s diet can aid in keeping her digestive system healthy (3). Many moms love the seed because it prevents excess bloating and constipation. It helps the baby process other foods too.

6. Carbohydrate-rich and low GI

Quinoa is carbohydrate-rich and has a low glycaemic index (GI) resulting in a sustained release of energy for the child to play and learn.

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How To Select And Store Quinoa?

Purchase quinoa flour or quinoa flakes for babies. Almost all quinoa is organic and is completely pre-rinsed. Go by the expiry date on the packet. Keep checking the state of it if you are not using it frequently. You may grind quinoa into powder in a food processor or a coffee grinder. Using quinoa powder, you can prepare smooth-textured baby cereal food.

You can store quinoa for several months in a cool, dry place in an airtight container, preferably in a refrigerator. Refrigeration prevents the natural oils, which come from the grain, from turning rancid. If you are buying pre-milled whole grain, prefer small quantities and use it before they get rancid.

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How To Cook Quinoa For Your Baby?

Rinsing and toasting Quinoa are essential before cooking. They help in eliminating the bitterness as well as saponins. Toasting enables easier digestion of the seed. However, most quinoa available in the US is pre-rinsed, limiting the bubbly and bitter saponins.

Rinsing: Give a thorough rinse if you are preparing quinoa for babies. Add the desired quantity to a fine mesh strainer and run water over it until bubbles disappear.

Toasting: Add the desired amount to a frying pan. Warm it on medium flame. Continuous stirring can avoid burning. Once the quinoa turns golden brown, take it off from the flame.

Cooking and pureeing: As quinoa can expand like rice, cook one cup quinoa in two to three cups of water. Make cooked quinoa into a puree using milk or water and serve it to your baby.

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Amazing Quinoa Recipes For Babies

Amazing Quinoa Recipes For Babies

Image: Shutterstock / iStock

Take a look at these amazing recipes. They are perfect for babies who are ready for something different.

1. Quinoa Porridge

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup quinoa powder
  • 1 to 2 cups water

How to:

  1. Mix quinoa powder and water in a pan.
  2. Keep whisking while cooking, to avoid lumps.
  3. Turn off after getting the desired consistency.

Optional: Mixing the quinoa porridge with fruit, vegetables, or yogurt adds flavor.

2. Quinoa & Peas

You will need:

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup chicken, vegetable or beef stock
  • Peas

How to:

  1. Add the ingredients to a medium saucepan and bring to boil.
  2. Simmer the flame for around 10 minutes.
  3. Do not allow it to reduce to pasty thickness.

3. Quinoa Stir-Fry

You will need:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • soft cooked apples – diced
  • soft cooked yellow squash – diced
  • soft cooked sweet potato – diced

How to:

  1. Add olive oil to a pan. Once it is warm, include all the ingredients. Saute and scramble.
  2. For iron or protein boost, scramble in an egg yolk.

4. Creamy Quinoa And Bananas

You will need:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 banana, mashed

How To:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and keep it on low flame for around 10 minutes.
  2. Ensure that quinoa is not reduced to pasty thickness.

5. Quinoa Fruity Feast

You will need:

  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) quinoa
  • 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) water
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 small apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • pinch of cinnamon

How To:

  1. Boil water in a saucepan, stir in quinoa and let it boil.
  2. Reduce the flame and keep in simmer for five minutes.
  3. Add raisins, apple, and keep in simmer for another five minutes until the water gets absorbed.
  4. Add mashed banana and cinnamon.
  5. Serve it as is or make its puree and then serve.

6. Creamy Quinoa Breakfast

You will need:

  • 1 apple (peeled, cored and diced)
  • 1 ripe pear (peeled, cored and diced)
  • 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) natural yogurt
  • 1 drop of vanilla
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) cooked quinoa

How to:

  1. Steam the apple and pear.
  2. Puree it with vanilla in a blender.
  3. Cook it on low flame for five minutes. Cover with the lid.
  4. Add yogurt to the fruit puree, stir in the quinoa and serve.

7. Easy Quinoa and Banana Breakfast

You will need:

  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 4oz (1/2 cup) cooked quinoa
  • 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) milk (breast milk, formula or whole milk)

How to:

  1. Blend banana in the milk.
  2. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan, add the quinoa.
  3. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off the flame once it thickens. (Make puree if desired)

8. Pretty Pink Quinoa

You will need:

  • 1 medium beetroot (peeled and diced)
  • 1 apple (peeled and diced)
  • 4oz (1/2 cup) cooked quinoa

How to:

  1. Steam the beet cubes and apple until tender.
  2. Puree them together in a food processor.
  3. Add and stir in cooked quinoa.

9. Chicken and Quinoa Patties

You will need:

  • 8oz (1 cup) ground chicken
  • 1/2 sweet potato
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 egg yolk (beaten)
  • medium apple
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2oz (1/4 cup) cooked quinoa
  • a pinch of dried thyme

How to:

  1. Peel the apple, sweet potato, garlic, and onion.
  2. Grate them together.
  3. Stir in the beaten egg yolk, ground chicken, quinoa and thyme.
  4. Mix thoroughly. Make small balls, press into half-inch-thick patties.
  5. Cook each side for 10 minutes under the broiler or grill, until thoroughly cooked.

10. Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bites (for finger foods)

You will need:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup chopped apples
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs (slightly beaten)

How To:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add cooked quinoa and oats to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add nutmeg, sugars, and cinnamon. Add the spices to the quinoa-oat mixture.
  4. Add eggs, apples, and maple syrup. Mix well.
  5. Spray non-stick cooking spray to a mini muffin pan and on the top of it as well.
  6. Fill one tablespoon of the mixture to each muffin slot.
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve it warm.

11.Sweet and Savoury Vegetable Quinoa

You will need:

  • 8oz quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2tbsp dicedzucchini/courgette
  • 1tbsp raisins
  • 1tbsp dried apricots (chopped)
  • 1 sweet potato (peeled and diced)
  • 1 spring onion or green onion or scallion (chopped)

How to:

  1. Add olive oil to a frying pan or skillet.
  2. Saute sweet potato dice and the zucchini with the onion until golden.
  3. Stir in the cooked quinoa, dried apricots, and raisins.

Note: This is quite a textured dish, ideal for babies who are already chewing. Soak the dried apricots and raisins in warm water and soften them.

12. Sunrise Quinoa

You will need:

  • 1 cups cubed ripe mango
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cups cooked quinoa

How to:

  1. Boil two cups water, add one cup quinoa and stir.
  2. Cook for 20 minutes on low flame until water is absorbed.
  3. Puree applesauce and mango together in a blender.
  4. Add the puree to the quinoa cereal.

Note: Add yogurt to make a creamy pudding.

Blend in chicken or pork and make a meal!

13. Apple And Cheddar Quinoa Balls

You will need:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 large apple, grated
  • 200g of cooked quinoa
  • 90g of cheddar
  • Olive oil

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 180c or 350f.
  2. Add cheddar, quinoa, egg, apple in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Make balls, put on baking tray.
  4. Brush olive oil on the top.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

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Tips To Add Quinoa To Baby Food

  • Adding a cinnamon stick to the water while cooking quinoa gives a unique, tempting flavor.
  • Make a sweet dish by cooking quinoa in a 50-50 mix of water and milk.
  • To attain a delightful savory flavor, cook quinoa in homemade or low-sodium broth.
  • To make it delicious, add coconut water or apple juice.
  • Add cooked quinoa to puree of blueberries and banana.

Introduce your baby to quinoa early in her life, for her to like the taste when she is growing up. Remember, the sooner you introduce your baby to healthy food and habits the better for her. There are many quinoa recipes you can try. Go ahead and cook them. Your baby will appreciate all your hard work!

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FAQs

1. Do babies show quinoa allergies?

Two key aspects of quinoa are gluten-free and hypoallergenic nature. But like many foods, quinoa is not an allergy-free food. Be careful while offering quinoa to your baby.

  • Firstly, rinse thoroughly. Rub it well to avoid saponin entering your baby’s system.
  • Observe your little one closely for any reaction resulting due to quinoa.
  • Seek medical advice, if you notice any classic allergy symptom.
  • Always introduce foods one at a time so that you can know if your child is allergic to a particular food.
  • Once you are convinced that quinoa is safe for your little one, you may give it in combination.

2. Is quinoa better than rice?

Both rice and quinoa add nutritive value to your diet and offer health benefits. However, they slightly differ in their mineral and vitamin content and hence, show different effects on health.

  • Both share similar calorie and macronutrient content. And contribute to your daily vitamin B intake.
  • Quinoa offers more protein and dietary fiber than brown rice and is a better source of magnesium and iron.
  • Brown rice provides you more minerals like selenium and manganese, than quinoa.

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Have you ever tried cooking quinoa for your little one? Do you have a recipe to share? Then go ahead and type it out in the comments section below!

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  • Very informative and healthy post. The dishes and recipes are too good for small kids…Thank u for the share it will help me as well.