BLW International Themed Cuisines
In our never-ending effort to expand Sloane's palate, I decided to try our hand at some international themed cuisines. I obviously modified things based on what I had available, wanting her to try new foods, and what worked best for an 11 month old. Hopefully some of these can work for you or just inspire you with new ideas! You can also follow us on Instagram for more - we post meal ideas in our stories daily.
1. Italian (Caprese, Pesto Toast, and Persimmon)
- Caprese - Since we already did an entire post on pastas, I wanted our "Italian" themed cuisine to be something different. Thus, we decided to do a "caprese" salad. Fresh mozzarella is one of the best cheeses for babies, since it is low in sodium, so that is an added bonus! I simply sliced the cheese, added a thin slice of tomato, and topped with chopped fresh basil. I did not add any balsamic or glaze, but I don't think it is needed for a baby. I ended up cutting these into finger-sized pieces but left them whole for the photo.
- Pesto toast - I wanted something a little more nutritious than garlic bread, so we made pesto bread instead. I used pre-made pesto because I had no desire to make it myself (although here's a 'simple' recipe if you'd like to do so) but because this is relatively high in sodium, I used just a little bit and combined it with EVOO, lemon juice, and basil (some base components of pesto). This made more "spread" without all the sodium of the jarred pesto. I then spread this on toasted whole wheat toast and sliced.
- Persimmon - I had never even seen or heard of a persimmon before and I don't think this is an Italian fruit....but my justification was it kind of sounds like "parmesan" which is Italian, so that counts, right? This organic fruit was a Misfits Market find, and they also gave suggestions on how to eat it. You know a Hachiya persimmon is ripe when pressing it reveals a custard-like consistency inside. I simply sliced (or diced) and Sloane enjoyed the sweet fruit.
2. Asian (Brown Rice and Veggie Balls, Ground Ginger Chicken, Steamed Carrots)
- Brown rice balls - Rice is one of the worst BLW foods to serve based purely on mess. These balls were still messy, but a little better and easier for her to eat! I simply cooked brown rice according to the package directions, but added a littttttle more water, so it was a bit "sticky". Then, I stirred in sauteed vegetables of choice (I used peas, peppers, and onions), and rolled into balls. I put the balls in the oven at 350 for about fifteen minutes and this made them stick together for easy grabbing!
- Steamed carrots - I try to buy whole carrots when I can, but I only had baby on hand. I chose the best shaped ones, washed them, and put them in a steamer over a pot of boiling water. It took about fifteen minutes for them to get soft enough that I could easily break them apart with two fingers, which is how I prefer to serve them to Sloane.
- Ground chicken - I mimicked this dinner off of a ground chicken lettuce wrap meal that I make for my husband and myself. So I made the ground chicken similarly to that, but without the excess sodium or spice. I heated up sesame oil in a pan, added diced yellow onion, and added the raw ground chicken after about five minutes. I seasoned the chicken with ground ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and just a pinch of crushed red pepper. I cooked this until thoroughly done, about fifteen minutes. I steamed the carrots, baked the rice balls, and sauteed the chicken all about the same time and they finished together!
3. American ("Hamburger" and "Fries" and Star Fruit)
- Burger - I wanted Sloane to try some plant-based meat, so I bought a package of impossible meat (but it's pretty high in sodium, so I only gave her a little!). I smashed the chunk I had as flat as possible, seasoned with black pepper and garlic powder, and baked it in the oven until it was "well done". I put this on a corn tortilla with fresh mozzarella and lettuce, then cut into strips.
- Sweet potato fries - The fries to our 'burger and fries' meal were a tasty but healthier side. I soaked a large sweet potato in water for about thirty minutes (it supposedly helps reduce starchiness), peeled it, and then sliced it into strips/fries. I tossed these in EVOO, garlic powder, black pepper, and a pinch of paprika. I then cooked the fries on parchment paper at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. This may change depending on the thickness and size of your fries; I just wanted them to be cooked through but not so well done that it would be crunchy and hard for Sloane to bite into.
- Star fruit - Even though star fruit is native to Indonesia, I was thinking "stars and stripes" was pretty American and chose that as our side. I simply washed and sliced the star fruit into thin slices and Sloane bit off pieces fairly easily!
4. Mexican (Black Bean and Cheese Quesadilla, Chorizo, Grilled Peppers and Onion)
- Quesadilla - For the quesadilla, we used a corn tortilla, low-sodium cheddar cheese, and black beans. I lightly coated a pan with EVOO, laid down one tortilla, sprinkled the cheese and black beans, and laid down another tortilla on top, cooking on medium heat. I find that covering with a pot lid for a minute or two helps to melt the cheese at the same rate as the tortilla cooks. When it was a light golden brown, I flipped the quesadilla and cooked the other side. I then sliced and served!
- Chorizo - This Mexican chorizo was something I wanted Sloane to try for the flavor and spice, but looking at the nutrition label, the sodium content was higher than I was comfortable giving her. So I cooked it and gave her just a few crumbles mixed among cooked black beans, much lower than the serving size suggestion. For pre-packaged chorizo, you want the internal temperature to be about 160 degrees. I chose to cook on a skillet, over medium heat, turning frequently and covering with a lid. Adding a little water helped to cook the chorizo internally; it took about 12 minutes covered and another 5 uncovered to fully cook.
- Green peppers and onions - I went with a fajita vibe here and used some toppings that would normally be served as a side. I simply sauteed sliced green peppers and onions on a skillet with EVOO until soft. A quick and easy side.
5. Indian (Garlic Yoghurt Chicken, Curry Rice, and Mushroom)
- Garlic yogurt chicken - Going off of the above recipe, I modified based on what I had and what I wanted to give to Sloane. I combined minced garlic, ginger, black pepper, cumin, lemon juice, and coriander with some plain, whole fat Greek yogurt. This was the 'marinade' for the chicken; I coated the breasts and let them sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. In a covered pan, I then baked the chicken at 375 for about 25 minutes.
- Curry rice - If you want a true curry, you can make something like this recipe. If you want my version, I cheated a bit and used jarred curry paste. This was pretty spicy and high in sodium, so I used a tiny amount and mixed it with plain Greek yogurt to make more of a paste. I tossed brown rice, cooked to the bag's directions, into the mixture along with some sauteed spinach.
- Mushroom and onion - Similarly to the Mexican sides, I wanted something quick and easy. I sliced mushroom and onion and sauteed in a pan with EVOO for about five minutes.