Baby Food of the Week – Quinoa

Quinoa for babies

Being mostly grain free, quinoa is one pseudo-grain (really, it’s a seed), that our tummies seem to tolerate. For most, it’s gentle on the stomach and can be easy to digest when prepared properly. 

 

various healthy seeds

 

Why do I love quinoa so much?

Antioxidants

Some antioxidants are higher concentration than in berries!

Anti-inflammatory

Phytonutrients and omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) do this. Reduces inflammation in the intestine lining when eaten regularly.

High fat

Oleic acid (monounsaturated fat) and omega-3 ALA. These fats withstand the heat of cooking too.

High in minerals

Manganese, copper, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium.

Protein

Complete protein source due to containing all amino acids. Lots of lysine which is absent in other grains.

Vitamin E, folate, zinc, phosphorous, B vitamins

Lots of goodness!

Fibre

Both soluble and insoluble – binds toxins, prevents constipation, and leans the blood of unwanted fats.

Gluten free

Quinoa is a gluten free product. However, some people with gluten sensitivities can cross-react to quinoa. So if you’re extremely sensitive to gluten, watch out you’re not reacting to quinoa too! 

 

Cooked organic quinoa in brown bowl on white background 

 

Enjoying Quinoa

To be digested easily, quinoa must be prepared properly. Soaking for at least 8 hours in filtered water before cooking will aid digestion. You can cook quinoa just as you do rice – in a rice cooker or in a pot (or your thermomix if you’ve got one!). It generally takes a little longer than rice too cook (if you don’t cook it long enough, or don’t soak it long enough, it might taste very very bitter!). I put my quinoa in the thermomix basket, put water in the bowl, and cook for around 15-18min on speed 4, 100C. You’ll know it’s cooked because the little seeds pop open and puff out a bit. 

Quinoa comes in different colours, and they all take different lengths of time to cook. Different antioxidants give them their colours. The most popular one is the white/cream coloured seed as it’s the easiest and quickest to cook. I quite like the red one too! 

Here are some ways to use quinoa for your baby: 

  • Cook some up the way you would rice, and mix it with a bolognese (or other) sauce. It adds some extra protein to the meal and is very easy for them to move around their  mouth when learning to eat
  • Quinoa flakes can be soaked the night before, then mixed in with some coconut cream and pureed apple to make a yummy porridge (you’ll find this recipe in my First Fifteen Week of Food Introduction booklet)
  • Add cooked quinoa to meatballs or veggie balls. It bulks up the meal and means your baby is eating less meat. This is great if your baby isn’t too sure of meat, or maybe doesn’t like the texture of meat – as it introduces them to the flavours of the meat without being too overpowering. 
  • Quinoa flour is dense but can be used for baking. You’ll notice a lot of my baking recipes call for coconut and quinoa flour – I like to mix the two because it gives a broader nutritional value plus I feel like it means I will be less likely to ruin the baking (haha). 

 

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