Stephanie Middleberg is one of New York City’s most sought-after health experts. The founder and owner of Middleberg Nutrition, she and her team offer nutritional counseling, consulting, and cooking classes to individuals and families. Stephanie is also the author of The Big Book Or Organic Baby Food: Baby Purees, Finger Foods, And Toddler Meals for Every Stage. When she isn’t working with her clients or media outlets, Stephanie enjoys eating and playing with her toddler Julian, jogging with her husband Andrew, and concocting recipes in the Middleberg Nutrition Test Kitchen.
In an ideal world, we would all sit down by 6pm and have a delicious meal over incredible conversation. Problem is, that’s not always reality as we are all busy with different schedules, jobs, etc. Throw a little one (or more) into the mix and getting a healthy, yummy dinner on the table can seem like a huge undertaking.
As a mom myself, I completely understand the anxiety about putting food on the table for your kids and trying to navigate the land of nutrition for adults and babies. I also feel the added weight of my day job as a dietitian urging me to be an exemplary chef for my little guy. If there’s one thing I know without a doubt, it’s that your little one’s are no different, really, than we are and cam abide by the same food philosophy.
Time is the second most important thing in your world right now (sorry, honey!) and it seems like we never have enough of it. When you factor in that you are making the same foods for you and your little one’s and you have the tools/ideas to make things relatively quickly, it doesn’t seem as big of an undertaking. Modifying your meals for your baby doesn’t require much work. In fact, I believe that kids and parents can and should eat the same food. This is easier said than done when starting them young (ideally in the first year during their “flavor window,”). Baby food doesn’t need to be bland and basic. In fact, that sets kids up to want muted flavors. The more flavors you offer early on, the more likely your baby will enjoy a variety of foods later. My son loves foods with very strong flavors and he can’t get enough of anything that has onion in it! You don’t need to purchase different foods for the baby just make a few simple modifications, like changing the texture and a few spices, as well as perhaps adding an extra side dish for your ravenous hubby who hasn’t eaten all day 😉 For example, my husband loves to make his own Sriracha mayo and adding it to a baked potato and I love tahini dressing. The types of herbs and spices you choose are up to you. For those pickier eaters, it’s not too late. It can take over 20 exposures of a certain food for babies to try something new. Just make at least one food item you know they like and expose them to new foods, like the meal you are preparing for yourself and husband!
Offering your family a varied diet from key superfoods is the best way to make sure everyone’s getting what they need to grow strong and healthy. Here are a key nutrients in these recipes and beyond.
Fat: Found in full-fat dairy products, avocados, nut butters, olive oil, egg yolks and coconut. They help the body absorb key fat-soluble vitamins and also helps with brain and nerve development.
Iron: stores are diminished by the time babies are 6 months old so its is important to get this mineral through food. Key sources are meat, fish as well as vegetarian sources like egg yolks, legumes, tofu and green leafy veggies.
Omega -3 Fatty Acids: This essential fatty acid is important for brain development.
Zinc: Zinc is helpful for keeping baby’s immune system strong and for skin healing. Found in animal products and vegetarian sources like legumes and eggs.
Below are some of my favorite recipes to get you started!
Spinach and Pepper Frittata
This is a great vegetarian meal filled that takes under 15 minutes to make and you can customize your frittata with any vegetable, cheese the family likes!
*Add on a side of roasted squash (purchase them pre-cut and cubed so all you need to do is season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast at 450 for roughly 15-20 minutes. You can also make a little mix green salad.
Makes 4 Servings
¼ cup milk
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups baby spinach
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the broiler.
2. In a medium bow, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a large, ovenproof sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetable soften, about 5 minutes
4. Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until it wilts, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds more.
5. Carefully pour the egg mixture from step 2 over the vegetables. Cook over medium heat until the eggs start to set around the sides. Using a rubber spatula, carefully pull the edges of the eggs away from the sides of the pan, tilt the pan, and allow any runny eggs to run into the sides. Cook until the sides start to set again.
6. Sprinkle the frittata with Parmesan. Transfer to the broiler. Broil until the frittata puffs and the cheese browns, 3 to 4 minutes. Store unoffered portions to the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
White Bean and Butternut Squash Stew
Hearty and comforting, this is a family-friendly stew to warm everyone up on a cool winter night. To save some time I recommend buying frozen organic butternut squash chunks and thaw 2 cups overnight. This stew is a great source of plant based protein, zinc, iron, potassium and beta-carotene.
* Add on: I recommend purchasing pre chopped (or frozen) cauliflower rice. Whole foods and Trader Joes have their own versions to add to the stew or for a more hearty side you can purchase organic heat and eat grains like Suzie’s organic or Lundberg Farms.
Makes 4 servings
2 tbsp. Olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
½ butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14-ounce can white beans, drained
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
½ tsp. dried rosemary
¼ tsp. sea salt
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and butternut squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the beans, tomatoes, rosemary, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Store unoffered portions in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Maple-Glazed Salmon with Roasted Green Beans
I love it because it is full of nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin C and B vitamins.
* You can add on a side of cauliflower or sweet potato mash for the whole family or a heat and eat grain like above!
Makes 4 servings
Photo via @thecrunchyradish
To make the green beans
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.2. In a large bowl, toss the green beans with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Place the beans in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
To Make the Salmon
1. Preheat the broiler.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Marinate the salmon in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
3. Remove the salmon from the marinade and place on a broiler pan. Broil the salmon until opaque, 3-5 minutes. Store unoffered portions in the refrigerator for up to 3 day