Microwave cooking is well suited to making your baby and child delicious meals and snacks. Cooking fast, which is what your microwave does best, retains more nutrients than slow cooking or boiling methods. A microwave cooks with little or no added liquid, and that means no nutrients are discarded in the cooking water. It also cooks fast, so nutrients are less likely to be destroyed in fact, studies show that microwave cooking retains more vitamin C and more B vitamins – thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine and folic acid- than conventional methods. The microwave oven also retains more flavor and color- particularly of vegetables- and this increases the chance that baby will want to eat them.
Despite the fact that most Americans now have microwave ovens, you still may have a nagging concern about safety. The waves in your oven are similar to radio waves, and once food is cooked they dissipate. The real safety issues when preparing baby food are preventing burns from food that is too hot and food poisoning from food that is under cooked. Here are tips for making wholesome safe baby food in a microwave:
- Cook, meat, fish and poultry until steaming hot. Allow all cooked food to cool before serving.
- Rotate or stir foods while cooking to distribute the heat.
- Cover foods during or after cooking to keep heat in and allow for even heat distribution.
- Allow foods to “rest” covered, before serving. Resting simply allows the food to sit, still covered, for 2 to 5 minutes after you have removed it from the oven.
- Another way to make sure meat is fully cooked is to check the temperature. If you do not already have a food thermometer you can get one in many super markets or hardware stores.
More tips about Food Safety and Cooking temps
Most of us think we can recognize when a child is overweight. But can we? As parents we are not objective about our children, and we bring our fears and experience to every situation, which colors our perception: for example, a mother with a history of weight problems may interpret her son’s natural chubbiness as obesity. A father who has never had a weight issue may not recognize that his daughter’s weight gain is above what is considered normal.
Because parents can’t be objective and are not trained in normal childhood growth patterns, you must involve your doctor in answering your concerns about your child’s weight. A health care provider will take into consideration age, growth, and the overall trend in height and weight development. Children grow at unpredictable rates. It is possible for a child to put on weight and “grow into” it a year later. Your child’s doctor can put your child’s rate of growth into an appropriate perspective.
In addition to the standard height and weight charts your doctor will evaluate your child’s body mass index (BMI). This is your child’s weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. The BMI is recommended as a way to screen for overweight and obesity because it correlates both subcutaneous fat and total body fatness. Obesity by definition occurs when the body has excess fat tissue. A child is considered overweight if his BMI is equal to or in excess of the ninety-fifth percentile for age and gender or greater than a BMI of 30. If your child is heavier than 85 percent of children who are the same age and height your child is considered overweight
Prepubescent growth, “plumpness,” which is a natural occurrence starting at age eight in girls and ten in boys, is often the cause for concerns in parents, but as the adolescent growth spurt approaches, usually by age eleven, change occurs in height too. During this time kids require calories and nutrition to meet their growth needs. Rely on your child’s health care team to interpret weight and growth trends. If a problem is identified ask for a treatment plan to address the problem.
Read more about the BMI for children or cut and paste this link into your search bar: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/index.html
Breast milk and formula can meet baby’s nutrient needs through six months of age, but many babies are developmentally ready earlier and ready to start foods at 4 to 6 months of age. It will be important for your baby to move to solid foods to meet his needs for nutrients such as: iron, zinc and vitamin D.
Many parents are ready to start solids early some because they think the milk feedings are “thin and watery” and many because they believe their child is hungry for food. For some, adding food to a baby’s menu is a developmental milestone they are proud of, and for all of these reasons 30 to 50 % of babies are given cereal by 2 to 3 months of age and by 4 to 6 months 50 to 70 % of babies are eating cereal. Infant cereal fortified with iron is a common first food because it is easy to use, well tolerated and a source of dietary iron a nutrient children need to obtain from food around the 6 month of life as the stores they were born with are used up and need to be replaced.
- Ask your health care provider about when to add solid food. Most will recommend you wait until your child can support his head and sit independently.
- Pay attention to your child’s interest in food. A child that sits forward and watches what you eat, may be showing an interest in food . Once you start food, a child can communicate fullness when he turns his head away from food .
- It is essential that infant formula or breast milk remain a part of your child’s diet for the entire first year of life, they are the primary source of the nutrients very young children need.
In ten minutes this recipe can by assembled and ready to cook. I use frozen vegetables because they require no preparation. Until the vegetables thaw, the dish will look lumpy and uneven—don’t worry; as it heats up, all the ingredients flatten out and the flavors combine. I often use a combination of vegetables that include broccoli, carrots onions and mushrooms. When I use frozen spinach as I did in the dish pictured, I defrost the spinach in the microwave and take extra care to squeeze out excess juice. Removing the liquid prevents it from being too runny.
six servings Printable Recipe
1 lb frozen vegetables (when using spinach thaw and squeeze-out excess moisture)
1 lb ricotta cheese, low fat or regular
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
8 no-bake lasagna noodles
1 jar spaghetti sauce
24 oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp oregano
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Lightly oil a lasagna pan. In a large bowl combine the ricotta and mozzarella cheese; mix in the egg until well combined. Fold in the frozen vegetables.
- Spread 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the lasagna pan and cover the bottom with 4 lasagna noodles. Spoon 2/3 of the cheese mixture over the noodles and spread evenly. Top with 1/2 cup sauce and half the drained tomatoes and repeat with 4 more noodles and the remaining vegetable mixture and top with the remaining sauce.
- Sprinkle with parmesan and bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes uncovered. Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.
364 calories, 37 g carbohydrate, 24 g protein, 6 g fiber
It is always fun trying new foods. My sister -in -law recently gave me a Gilfeather Turnip, she promised it would be great as it was grown in Vermont, a state with climate and soil that is said to produce the best of these turnips. Here is how the Slow Foods web page describes this root vegetable: The Gilfeather is an egg-shaped, rough-skinned root, but unlike its cousins, it has a mild taste that becomes sweet and a creamy white color after the first frost. While the hardy Gilfeather turnip does well in nearly any climate, a touch of frost contributes to its unusual taste and texture. Developed and named after John Gilfeather from Wardsboro, Vermont, this turnip is one of the state’s unique contributions to cold weather agriculture. Mr. Gilfeather carefully guarded his stock to ensure that no one else could propagate the vegetable. However, some seeds slipped by and a few folks have continued to grow the Gilfeather Turnip after Mr. Gilfeather died.
My sister in law was right the turnip was terrific! If you are lucky and live near Vermont maybe you will find one at a Winter Market. Prepare turnips just as you would a potato, peel, cube, boil in salted water and mash with butter until smooth and creamy.