There is darned good reason that rice is a first food for many babies. Avoiding gluten intolerance and allergies are important factors in making the shift from liquid food to real food. But so are digestibility and mommy’s sanity. Most nutritionists recommend beginning with pureed fruits and vegetables and then adding in whole, digestible grains like rice. I know it is easy to mix the contents of a package of rice cereal with breast milk or formula but it is even easier to puree the rice that the rest of the family is enjoying.
It is a great habit to get into and your $11 investment into a rice cooker will pay itself off quickly. Simply measure, plug and play. By the end of the day you have not only half of the adult meal handled but also a great foundation of your baby food. I love the baby food mills that manually mash in a few cranks and thin to an age appropriate thickness and texture with some breast milk or formula. Any fruit or vegetable can be mixed into rice and eventually, the protein as well.
So which rice should the family be enjoying? There are three basic types of rice categorized by size: short, medium and long grain. Nutritionally, there is little to no difference between the types. Texturally, the difference is huge. Short grains tend to be more sticky or “glutinous” (stupid description ‘cause there is no gluten, it just refers to the gluten –like stickiness). The longer grains tend to cook up more separately and fluffy. Medium grains are somewhere in between.
Choose whichever type of grain you will and feel free to start with an easily digestible white or better yet, parboiled. The parboiling process retains some of the nutrients otherwise stripped away by other polishing or milling. Once baby is ready for a bit of texture and fibre (often by 8-10 months) upgrade to the brown varieties. Not only does brown rice have much needed fibre, the retention of that fibre helps the grain contain more crucial nutrients.
Rice is flexible. It doesn’t care whether you serve it savory or sweet. This whole grain brown rice recipe has been a staple in our house for years!
Short Grain Brown Rice Pudding
Brown Arborio or Short Grain Rice is widely available and I think far superior. Because the grain is short, it become soft and creamy all by itself.
Recipe By: Theresa Albert, DHN, RNCP
Serving Size: 6
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 cup Short grain brown or brown Arborio rice
- 2 cups water
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup raisins (omit for children under 3)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pinch cinnamon
In a large heavy saucepan, combine rice, water, syrup and salt. Bring just to a boil, stirring often. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until water is absorbed.
Reduce heat to very low, add milk and raisins, cover, and place covered into a 325F oven for about 30-45 minutes (or until rice is very tender and pudding is thickened and creamy; it will thicken more as it cools).
Stir in vanilla and cinnamon.