Oatmeal rocks. Gluten-free, tasty, nourishing, and immune-boosting too! Especially if you’re making independent choices regarding vaccination, it’s good to have some recipes on hand that pack in some good nutrients to give your baby or child an immune system boost.
Here’s a recipe I’ve started making regularly that baby hearts:
Dried Fruit and Oatmeal Recipe for Babies and Toddlers
3 unsulphered dried apricots (they should be brown in color, not orange)
1 rounded teaspoon currants
3 slices frozen peach
2 cups water
1/2 cup breast milk or goat milk (optional, substitute more water for allergies)
1/2 cup rolled oats (for older toddlers, try oat groats or steel-cut oats)
1 tablespoon flax meal, or flax seeds ground in a blender or mill
1 rounded teaspoon cashew butter or tahini (optional, depending on age and allergies)
This recipe is a little bit of extra work but worth it and easy enough if you make a batch and keep it in the fridge for a few days to serve every morning!
Boil 2 cups water, and pour just enough to cover over the peaches in a small bowl. Add boiling water to pan (if not already in it!) and add oats. Return to boil, cover, reduce heat to low.
While oatmeal cooks, dice the apricots and currants to pieces small enough to prevent a choking hazard. Add diced dried fruit to pan, stir, replace lid and continue cooking. Remove peaches from bowl, now softened by boiling water. Dice and add peaches, milk and cashew butter or tahini to pan, stir, and replace lid.
Continue cooking oatmeal, checking occasionally and stirring as necessary until reduced to thick soupy consistency with oatmeal significantly softened. I like to cook this good and long to take the chewiness out of the oats and make it easier for baby to swallow and digest!
Where’s that Immune Boost?
Nearly all the ingredients in this recipe pack some immune boosting power.
According to Lucy Burney of Boost Your Child’s Immune System (aff) oatmeal is high in Vitamin C and magnesium, both vital to a healthy immune system. One cup of oatmeal also has 25% of the RDA of selenium.
We don’t talk about selenium nearly enough do we, honey? Here’s what naturopathic doctor Mary Bove has to say about selenium:
Selenium is a micromineral which acts as an antioxidant, reducing free radical activity and eliminating heavy metals such as lead and mercury from the body. Selenium increases the production of antibodies and increases T-cell ability to destroy bacteria. — An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants (aff)
Zaps free radicals? Removes toxins? Superpowers immuno-super heroes? What’s not to love? Plus oatmeal is gluten-free, so there’s no risk of sensitizing your baby to gluten and causing allergies later in life. And, of course, it’s heart healthy: only have to watch a little bit of TV to know that!
Peaches and currants and flax seed, oh my!
- Flax seed and fish oils are the two highest source of Omega 3 fatty acids (linolenic acids) out there. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are - guess what? - essential to your body’s immune system and must come from the foods we eat; the body cannot produce them on its own. According to Dr. Leo Galland of Superimmunity for Kids (aff), “The EFA famine among American children mainly involves Omega-3 EFAs.” We put flax seed on our cereals every single morning, and if you’re not already, you should be too! If you can’t find a good, fresh source of flax seed nearby, you can buy flax seed in bulk online, as well as flax seed meal (aff). Flax seed meal is more easily digestible and nutritionally available, but has a shorter shelf life and must be refrigerated. Or (if you don’t have gluten allergies) try to find Uncle Sam Cereal (aff). Packed with flax fantabulousness! While you’re at it, add flax seed or Uncle Sam’s to everything you bake, too!
- Peaches are high in Vitamin C and Vitamin A, also immune-supportive.
- Dried apricots are high in Vitamin A (beta carotene). They are also a good source of fiber and iron. Iron is important in baby’s diet, especially in the early months of eating solids.
- One quarter cup of currants give you 84% of the US RDA of Vitamin C.
- Cashews and tahini are good sources for copper, one of the co-factor minerals for essential fatty acids. The are both an excellent non-animal sources of protein, as vegetarians know well. Cashews have a lower fat content than most nuts and are largely comprised of oleic acid, the same mono-unsaturated hearty-healthy fat found in olive oil. You learn something new every day! Tahini (aff) is a blend of sesame seeds and olive oil and is found in most health food stores, or in the ethnic section of supermarkets.
A Note Regarding Allergies
As mentioned above, some of the ingredients I’ve included are optional depending on the age of your baby. To be sure you are not introducing allergens too early, here are some tips on when to introduce these ingredients. If you have a history of allergies in your family, be even more cautious.
According to most pediatricians, flax seed can be safely introduced after about 9 months. Milk can be introduced after 1 year, and goat milk is less allergenic than cow’s milk. For more on milk allergies, read Cheese, Friend or Foe?
Depending on the history of allergies in your family, pediatricians recommend waiting between 9 to 36 months before introducing nuts. Recommendations vary based on the philosophy of the doctor and the history of the child and her family.
If you are vegetarian, you might consider carefully introducing nut butters (never solid nuts for babies or toddlers) in the nine to twelve month range, though this is early by most doctor’s standards. For example, in Boost Your Child’s Immune System (aff) Lucy Burney writes:
I have suggested that [9 months] is a suitable time to introduce nuts and seeds into your baby’s diet [with the exception of peanuts]. But, as explained earlier, these foods can be highly allergenic, so if there is a history of allergy in the family it would be prudent to delay their introduction until your baby is one year old. I introduced ground nuts and seeds to my own children at nine months as I felt that the health benefits of these foods far outweighed the risks. Introduce the least allergenic first, such as ground almonds and ground sunflower seeds, and progress from there.
However, Dr. Alan Greene, of Raising Baby Green (aff), is more conservative:
For families with a strong history of food allergies (two or more parents or siblings with any food allergies, or one with severe food allergies), I suggest no milk, soy, or wheat for the first year; no eggs for two years; and no peanuts, tree nuts, or fish for three years.
For more on allergies, consult with your doctor or allergist!
Hope you enjoy this recipe. It’s pretty yummy, so you might want to double it and enjoy a bowl for yourself!