Don’t be afraid to spice it up!
By Sarah Axtell, ND • July 24, 2008
Kids have a blank slate as far as their palates go. Once they start eating solids (at around 6 mos), adding spices to their food is a must! Gradually work in more spices- start out with the more mild ones (garlic, dried oregano, dried basil) and work up to the more intense flavors, such as tumeric, ginger, paprika, cumin, and thyme. Cece (14 months) loves spices, especially tumeric and ginger! The more seasoning and flavor the food has the better (this applies to most culinary herbs except for cayenne!). If you want your child to have an ethnically diverse, broad spectrum palate, introduce the spices early.
Here are some health benefits of my favorite herbs to cook with:
This is the yellow spice in curry powders. It is widely used in India, and is often attributed as being the reason why the incidence of Alzheimers is so much lower there. It is anti-inflammatory and is good for chronic conditions, like Diabetes, heart Disease, Alzheimers, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Acne. In addition to chronic diseases, it is also an excellent remedy for acute conditions, like musculoskeletal complaints (ie. sprained ankle). Mix 1-2 tablespoons in some water for a “natural aspirin.” Cook with tumeric, sprinkling it in your curries, rice salads, potato salads, and bean dishes.
Like tumeric, ginger is also anti-inflammatory. It is also soothing to an upset tummy. You can make ginger tea as a digestive aid from fresh cut ginger steeped in hot water. It is also anti-microbial so it is good for when you or your little one is coming down with a cold. In addition to the immune benefits, ginger is also very beneficial to the heart and cardiovascular system. Add ginger to stir-fries, lentil soup, and casseroles.
Thyme is anti-microbial. Great for drying up mucus in the upper respiratory system. Caution to breastfeeding moms: Too much thyme has the potential to dry up your milk, due to its astringent/drying affects.
Garlic is also anti-microbial so it is great for the immune system. Also good for the heart and for the prevention and/or treatment of allergies. Raw garlic is best, but I realize that this is not very feasible with kids. Try roasting whole bulbs of garlic in the oven (350 F) for 25-30 minutes (until the cloves are soft and mushy). This cuts the intensity of garlic and increases its sweetness. Use as a spread on your favorite whole grain bread or as a topping for pizza. Cece loves whole cloves of roasted garlic! Your child will too! *Caution: If you find that your child (or you for that matter) has gas, bloating, or an upset stomach after eating garlic (or onions), that means that they are unable to digest the Sulphur compounds in garlic properly.
Remember, starting to use spices now, at an early age, will influence your child’s tastes later on so that he/she will be an adventurous and healthy eater! Nobody likes a picky eater!
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.