When it comes to purchasing commercially prepared baby food, many are distracted by the cute babies smiling on the packages, that they overlook reading the list of ingredients on the packaging all together. Or perhaps, because the food is marketed as made for infants (although I know many of you mommy’s end up eating half of it with your baby), parents automatically have this high expectation that companies will only use high-quality ingredients. Frankly, many parents feel assured when it comes to purchasing baby food, unfortunately they don’t realize there could be some unwanted additives and preservatives in the product they are purchasing.
One of my main concerns is genetically-engineered ingredients. Some ready-made baby food meals come along with thickening agents like corn flour or tapioca starch. In fact, many times water and thickening agents are used to bulk the meal- this lowers the vegetable or fruit content by and large, clearly for the benefit of profit maximization. Unless you are purchasing USDA certified organic and Non-GMO verified jars of baby food, you’re most likely feeding your baby some genetically-modified ingredients. If there is anything I’d advise you to not feed an infant, or even any of your children, it would be genetically-modified ingredients of any kind. Whether it’s jarred sweet potato puree, cereal or toddler snacks- check the ingredients for possible genetically-engineered ingredients. The crops that are most likely to be genetically modified include, but are not limited to: corn, soy, canola, papaya (if grown in Hawaii), and some zucchini. I have covered all of these in a previous article. For now, read your labels cautiously and seek alternative options to what you may be accustomed too.
More importantly, I advise you be aware of pesticides lurking on both fruits and vegetables. I have mentioned the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists on numerous occasions, and how drastically they can impact the health of infants especially. To refresh, the Environmental Working Group test fruits and vegetables annually in order to come up with a list of produce with the highest number in harmful pesticides. Effects of these pesticides include: cancer, brain damage, infertility, developmental issues and affects to the nervous system, eye health and even kidney health. I discuss this more in my book, Sunnah Superfoods. I recommend to try purchasing all the produce on the Dirty Dozen organic list- rest assured the Clean Fifteen produce can be conventionally grown. The 2017 Dirty Dozen list begins with apples being pretty high, on the top of the list. Apples are extremely high in pesticides thus I recommend all my clients and readers to purchase them certified organic. However, it’s not just apples you should purchase certified organic, but also apple juice, applesauce, baby food containing apples and any other product you purchase with apples in the ingredient list.
Feeding your baby a jar of pureed apples that are swimming with detrimental pesticides isn’t the best choice for them in the long-run- instead, peel and steam apples at home. Once they are tender, puree them in your blender and you have a delicious homemade apple puree, free of additives that are evidently unnecessary. Personally, I enjoy tossing in some strawberries prior to pureeing the apples for a twisted flavor.
I’ve experimented with making homemade baby food on numerous occasions and have been successful thus far. There is no need to purchase jars of baby food, when you can make a delicious healthy meal for your child from the kitchen of your home. One suggestion I found demanding: I would simply steam carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and peas for about ten minutes. After the steaming is complete, I merely puree them in the food processor until they’re nice and creamy. After the puree cools down completely, I’d place it in glass containers will lids. This allows them to burst with a myriad of vitamins and minerals, minus the preservatives and genetically-modified ingredients. Another tasty flavor I’ve made often was a combination of pears with strawberries. It’s simple, scrumptious and pure in its ingredients as well. This same base recipe can be used for fundamentally any fruit and vegetable mix you and your baby prefer most.
While many times jarred baby food can be a great relief, while traveling or away from home, try your best to read the list of ingredients and purchase them organic if possible. I completely understand there are times in which you are traveling, perhaps camping, driving long hours, or at the top of a mountain- it’s undoubtedly difficult, if not impossible, to have a steamer and blender on hand at all times. However, for these times, I recommend organic certified baby jars and meals. Keep the Dirty Dozen list in mind and possibly in your wallet at hand. Try the suggested recipes above and you will become far more comfortable knowing what you are feeding your baby.
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.