Got picky eater who turns his head at everything else except rice and fried chicken? An expert recommends a simple solution: soup.
“Soups make it easy to boost the veggie intake of even the pickiest toddlers,” says Dr. Nicole Avena, a research neuroscientist and expert in childhood nutrition.
“A vegetable or other food that your baby doesn’t like can be diced into very small pieces or pureed into the soup, which can be key in improving your toddler’s tolerance of different vegetables and other foods,” she writes in an article for Psychology Today.
Apart from being tasty and picky eater-friendly, soups are nutritious too, Dr. Avena adds. “Some nutrients are better absorbed when food has been heated,” she explains. “If you put cooked carrots, for instance, in a soup, they yield more absorbable beta carotene for your toddler than when eaten raw.” Tomatoes are the same case as well, she adds.
Your kiddo will also get more B vitamin folate from green, leafy vegetables when they’re in a soup compared to when they’re just steamed (this is because B vitamin folate is water-soluble). Think of pechay in a pot of nilagang baka or kangkong in sinigang.
Bone broth, or soups that contain simmered bones of chicken, pork or beef (think bulalo) are also a good source of protein. A cup of bone broth soup can contain 6 to 12 grams of protein, says Caitlin VanDreason, a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager at Cambridge Health Alliance, to Harvard Health.
Do away with ready-to-eat soups in a can and make a homemade dish. The healthiest soups are made from scratch, says Harvard Health. And, Pinoys are lucky that we have quite a wide range of Filipino soup recipes to choose from. For baby and toddler-friendly recipes that make use of local ingredients, we’ve turned to Cherdyn Mojica, mom to 1-year-old Ceana, who runs Nanay Avenue on Facebook.
The recipes below can be eaten by everyone in the family — from baby to dad! They're packed with vegetables (and most contain protein too), require minimal prep (a.k.a. one-pot recipes), and are tasty even without salt (as it’s not recommended that you add any salt to baby food). Pair with a serving of rice and you’ve got the three food groups — go, grow, and glow — covered.
Note: Before preparing baby food, make sure the recipe is appropriate for your child’s age and solids stage by consulting a pediatrician. Introduce new foods to your baby one at a time.