In her book Superfoods for Babies and Children (Atria Books), bestselling author Annabel Karmel details which are the best foods for your 9- to 12-month-old baby, and why.
Spinach is rich in chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plants that helps prevent and treat anemia. Spinach is a good source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, so do not overcook it or you will destroy a lot of its content. But despite popular opinion -- and Popeye -- it is not a particularly good source of iron.
Broccoli is king of the healthy vegetable superstars. Its phytochemicals have important properties, especially against cancer. It provides an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene. The darker the florets, the higher the amount of antioxidants. Broccoli should be steamed, as boiling almost halves its vitamin C content. Broccoli eaten three times a week is believed to lower the risk of cancer. This is because broccoli contains glucosinolate, which triggers the production of cancer-fighting enzymes.
Carrots are more nutritious when cooked, unlike many other vegetables. Cooking breaks open the plant cells so antioxidants and other plant chemicals can be absorbed much better. Carrots contain large amounts of carotene, an antioxidant that gives carrots their orange color.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful pigment important in the prevention of cancer. Men who have a high level of lycopene in their fat stores are half as likely to have a heart attack. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and potassium, which is important for healthy blood and helps counteract the negative effects of salt. One of the factors of the good health of the Mediterranean people may be that their diet is rich in fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes.
Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, which is needed for growth, healthy skin, bones, and teeth, and also helps the body to absorb iron from food. Raspberries are higher in folic acid and zinc than most fruits.
Avocados are sometimes thought of as a vegetable but they are actually a fruit and contain more nutrients than any other fruit. Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit and are rich in monounsaturated fat, the "good" type of fat, which helps prevent heart disease. The high calorie content of avocados makes them a good food for growing children.
Butternut squash is rich in beta-carotene, the plant form of vitamin A, which helps protect against cancer and boosts your child's immune system.
Swiss cheese has a slightly sweet taste that appeals to babies. Cheese is a good source of concentrated calories, protein, and calcium.
Eggs are packed with goodness. Remember, they contain all the nutrients needed to support a chick. Eggs provide an excellent source of protein, zinc, and vitamins A, D, E, and B12. Don't worry about their high cholesterol -- in the long run, it has very little effect compared to things like obesity and smoking.
Couscous is made from semolina wheat and is popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. You can find it in most supermarkets next to the rice section. It's fairly high in minerals and vitamins, and has a mild taste and wonderful soft texture. It is also very quick and easy to prepare.
Pasta is a great energy food, packed full of carbohydrates, which are broken down to supply all the cells in our bodies with fuel. Sixty percent of the adult diet should be carbohydrates, and introducing starchy-type foods early on is a good idea.
Spinach has quite a strong taste on its own but blends well with a cheese sauce, and the corn adds a slightly sweet taste that babies like. You can choose any tiny pasta shape, but I particularly like orzo, which is a pasta that looks like grains of rice.
3 tablespoons orzo or other small pasta shape
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup your baby's usual milk
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Melt the butter, stir in the flour, and cook for 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in the milk to make a smooth white sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted. If using fresh spinach, carefully wash it and put in a saucepan, sprinkle with a little water, and cook until tender (about 3 minutes). Squeeze out all the water. Combine the spinach (fresh or frozen) with the cheese sauce and puree in a food mill. Stir the cooked pasta and corn into the spinach and cheese sauce.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.