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13 Tasty Quinoa Recipes For Babies and Its Health Benefits

Quinoa

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    You may already be feeding your baby with solids like banana puree, infant cereal, and mashed carrots. As your little one gets ready to experience other flavors, you would want to introduce a range of foods with varying textures and flavors. Exposure to healthy foods early in life could help them develop a long-lasting taste.

    Quinoa is one such nutritious grain you can add to your baby’s first foods. Experts believe that whole grains like quinoa and millet expose babies to the world of food textures.

    MomJunction will tell you why you may feed quinoa to your little one, and shares some delicious recipes.

    When To Introduce Quinoa To Babies?

    You may introduce quinoa between eight and ten months. Babies can tolerate it even before eight months of age, but it is good to wait until their digestive system improves. Consult your pediatrician before introducing any solids to your little one. Generalities may or may not apply to your baby.

    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 belong to the category of cereal grains. It is the seed of a green vegetable that resembles spinach.

    Quinoa is a small grain light in color and round in shape, similar in appearance to sesame seeds. It is available in colors such as purple, red, and black (1). It can be cooked like grain to replace rice and couscous, or it can be used as ground quinoa flour.

    Nutritional value of quinoa (cooked)

    NutrientValue per 100g
    Water71.61g
    Energy120kcal
    Protein4.4g
    Carbohydrates21.3g
    Calcium17mg
    Iron1.49mg
    Magnesium64mg
    Phospohorus152mg
    Potassium172mg
    Sodium7mg
    Zinc1.09mg
    Vitamin B-60.123mg
    Vitamin A5IU
    Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)0.63mg
    Thiamin0.107mg
    Riboflavin0.110mg
    Niacin0.412mg
    Vitamin B-60.123mg
    Folate, DFE42µg

    Source: USDA (2)

    Health Benefits Of Quinoa For Babies

    Quinoa contains fiber, calcium, folate, iron, etc., (3). Here are a few benefits of adding quinoa to your baby’s diet:

    1. A complete source of protein

    The seed is considered a complete protein containing the right amount of essential amino acids. The content of these nutrients is higher in quinoa than in common cereals. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and thus is a complete protein source.

    2. Vitamins required for healthy development

    Quinoa is full of vitamins. 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, and support the baby’s physical and mental development.

    3. Minerals for growth

    Quinoa is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, etc. Your baby needs all these minerals to grow: Calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium are crucial for bone growth. Iron aids in the production of hemoglobin. Omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids are good for the brain and eye development.

    4. Antioxidants to work against free radicals

    Quinoa contains antioxidants, which can scavenge free radicals and prevent DNA damage (4). It reduces oxidative stress in the body, thus fighting its negative health impacts.

    5. Fiber for digestion

    The high amount of fiber makes quinoa a good laxative that helps in easy digestion (5). It also prevents excess bloating and constipation.

    6. Carbohydrates and low GI

    Quinoa is a rich source of carbohydrates and has a lower glycaemic index (GI) than other grains, resulting in a sustained release of energy for the baby to play and learn.

    If you are impressed with the benefits and want to try quinoa for your baby, then you might want to buy the right type of quinoa.

    How To Select And Store Quinoa?

    Purchase quinoa flour or quinoa flakes for babies. Go by the expiry date on the packet. You may powder the quinoa in a food processor or a coffee grinder, and use this powder to prepare smooth-textured baby cereal food.

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

    How To Cook Quinoa For Your Baby?

    Rinse and toast the quinoa before cooking to remove the bitterness and saponins, a bitter compound which plants use as a defense to ward off insects. Toasting enables easier digestion of the seed. However, most quinoa available in the US is pre-rinsed.

    Rinsing: Take the desired quantity of quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and run water over it until bubbles disappear.

    Toasting: Heat a frying pan on medium flame and put quinoa in it. Keep stirring until the quinoa turns golden brown.

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

    Soak and/or sprout the quinoa to reduce the phytic acid content, which binds to the minerals and makes them less absorbable. Soaking and sprouting increase the availability of the minerals to the body and also increase the antioxidant levels.

    Quinoa Recipes For Babies

    These recipes are perfect for babies, who are ready for something different.

    1. Quinoa porridge

    Quinoa porridge

    Image: iStock

    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: Add fruits, vegetables, or yogurt for flavor.

    2. Quinoa and peas

    Quinoa and peas

    Image: iStock

    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 for around 10 minutes.
    3. Do not allow it to reduce to pasty thickness.
    4. You may puree it for young babies.

    3. Quinoa stir fry

    Quinoa stir fry

    Image: iStock

    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. Sauté and scramble.
    2. For iron or protein boost, scramble in an egg yolk.

    4. Creamy quinoa and bananas

    Creamy quinoa and bananas

    Image: iStock

    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

    Quinoa fruity feast

    Image: iStock

    You will need:

    • 2oz (1/4 cup) quinoa
    • 4fl oz (1/2 cup) water
    • 1tbsp raisins
    • 1 small apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
    • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
    • A 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 simmer it for another five minutes until the water gets absorbed.
    4. Add mashed banana and cinnamon.
    5. Serve it as-is or make it a puree.

    6. Creamy quinoa breakfast

    You will need:

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

    Easy quinoa and banana breakfast

    Image: iStock

    You will need:

    • 1/2 ripe banana
    • 4oz (1/2 cup) cooked quinoa
    • 4fl 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 and add the quinoa.
    3. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
    4. Turn off the flame once it thickens.
    5. Make puree if desired.

    8. Pretty pink quinoa

    Pretty pink quinoa

    Image: iStock

    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

    Chicken and quinoa patties

    Image: iStock

    You will need:

    • 8oz (1 cup) ground chicken
    • 1/2 sweet potato
    • 1/2 small onion
    • 1 egg yolk (beaten)
    • 1 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)

    Apple cinnamon quinoa bites

    Image: iStock

    You will need:

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

    How to:

    1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
    2. Add cooked quinoa and oats to a large mixing bowl.
    3. Add nutmeg, sugars, and cinnamon 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 savory vegetable quinoa

    Sweet and savory vegetable quinoa

    Image: iStock

    You will need:

    • 8oz quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth
    • 2tbsp olive oil
    • 2tbsp diced zucchini/ 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. Sauté sweet potato dices, zucchini, and onion until golden brown.
    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 to soften them.

    12. Sunrise quinoa

    Sunrise quinoa

    Image: iStock

    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 to make a meal

    13. Apple and cheddar quinoa balls

    Apple and cheddar quinoa balls

    Image: iStock

    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 350oF.
    2. Add cheddar, quinoa, egg, and apple in a bowl and mix well.
    3. Make balls, place them on a baking tray.
    4. Brush olive oil on the top.
    5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

    Tips To Make Quinoa Interesting To The Baby

    • Adding a cinnamon stick to the water while cooking quinoa gives a unique 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 the puree of blueberries and banana.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Can babies have 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 to remove saponin.
    • When you feed quinoa for the first time, observe for any reactions.
    • Seek medical advice if you notice any classic allergy symptoms.
    • 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 continue to feed it.

    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.

    If you want your baby to develop a taste for quinoa, introduce the food early in their life. Remember, the sooner you introduce your baby to healthy food and habits, the easier it is for them to continue.

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

    References:

    1. Whole grains A-Z; Oldways Whole Grains Council
    2. Quinoa, cooked, 20137; Basic Report;USDA
    3. Brittany L. Graf et al.; Innovations in health value and functional food development of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.); National Centre for Biotechnology Information(2016)
    4. Robert Yawadio Nsimba et al.; Antioxidant activity of various extracts and fractions of Chenopodium quinoa and Amaranthus spp. Seeds; ScienceDirect (2008)
    5. Lamothe LM et al.; Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa W.) and amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus L.) provide dietary fibres high in pectic substances and xyloglucans.; National Centre for Biotechnology Information (2015)

     

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