I have talked about food variety and some factors that affect mothers in Nigeria from creating or serving a variety of meals to their infants in my previous posts. I will do a demonstration of food variety trying to including the food groups into a single meal. Please note that I am not focused on portion sizes, textures and frequency in this post.
As a busy caregiver, you would sometimes like to limit the time you spend in the kitchen. If your meal time table says Rice and Beans, you can remove some portions of boiled rice and boiled beans and make a nice meal for your infant.
Rice falls under the grain category, beans is a legume, carrot falls under the Vitamin A rich fruits and vegetable, tomato falls under this category also. Onions fall under the other fruits and vegetable category and finally the blended shrimp (commonly called crayfish in Nigeria) is a fleshy food. In this meal, you have at least 4 groups. I added a teaspoon of palm oil into the whole mix when all the ingredients were combined and cooking in a pot along with some seasonings like curry and thyme. I try not to add salt at all, not even pinch (except if the food is so bland and I know my Sons would not eat them from experience).
Here, I have unripe plantain which is a great source of iron and falls under the root and tuber group. Tomatoes and Onions are great vegetables that add color and flavor to your foods apart from the nutrients they contain. I also have carrots, green peas and green beans that I blanched and froze in appreciable quantity, I also have boiled Atlantic Mackerel (Titus fish). I boiled the unripe plantain first and then added the fish (shredded) along with the tomatoes and onions and the vegetable oil. I added the carrots and other greens last and then allow to cook for a few minutes before I turn the heat off.
Another combination you can try is the plantain and beans with the vegetables and fish. For another day’s meal, you can replace the plantain with potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam and other roots and tubers. The vegetables can be replaced with spinach, the fish replaced with chicken or beef. If you have used beans for one of the day’s meal, you do not have to repeat it in the next meal. Simply look at the groups you have picked from and try something new or old. An example of something old is Eko (thick pap) and Okra with some crayfish.
For a snack, you could try Mango puree or Banana with peanuts (this you can puree) or Apple and natural yogurt blend.
The best way to keep this up is to create a meal time table or two that follows this food group rule. If you cook in batches and freeze, you will find out that you are giving your child just the meals that you have cooked but do not worry too much because at the next week, you can cook a different batch of foods. This will help you keep up and plan ahead.
You can also work with your stiff morsels (swallows) and well prepared vegetables, fleshy foods and/or legumes and nuts. At the end, all this can be done seamlessly when it becomes a habit.