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. Frankly, another issue is that many people feel assured when it comes to purchasing baby food, and oddly don’t realize there could be some unwanted ingredients in the product.
Some 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, thus lowering the vegetable or fruit content and increasing profits. Unless you are purchasing USDA certified organic and non-GMO verified 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, it would be genetically modified ingredients. Whether it’s 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, Hawaiian papaya, and some zucchini.
More importantly. I advise you be aware of pesticides lurking on the fruits and vegetables. I’ve mentioned the dirty dozen and clean fifteen list numerous times. To refresh, the Environmental Working Group test fruits and vegetables annually, and come up with a list of the produce highest in harmful pesticides. Effects of these pesticides including cancer, brain damage, infertility, developmental issues, and also affect the nervous system, eye health and kidneys. These are just a few to mention, and again, try staying away from the dirty dozen produce as much as possible.
The 2015 dirty dozen list begins with apples at the very top. Yes, apples are extremely high in pesticides, and I recommend all my clients and readers to purchase them 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. Next on the list are celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, snap peas, spinach, strawberries and sweet bell peppers. Although it’s a long list, you’re not to worry. Try your best purchasing these foods organic, and if that’s not possible frozen is a second option. Since frozen fruits and vegetables are immediately blanched and frozen after picking, many of the pesticides are removed from the blanching process. Freezing them actually preserves many of the vitamins and nutrients. So, instead of purchasing a jar of apple-strawberry baby food, why not make some at home yourself with a few apples and strawberries? The process is fairly easy, and the result is a healthy and delicious meal for your child.
In fact, one of my favorite recipes I made my baby sister more than six years ago was a wonderful mix of vegetable puree. There is no need to purchase jars of baby food, when you can make this delicious meal at home. I would steam carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and peas. After steaming is over I simply puree them in the food processor until they’re nice and creamy. After it cools down completely, I’d place it in glass containers with lids. Another tasty recipe was the apples with strawberries puree. It’s simple, and pure in ingredients. This same recipe can be used for basically any fruit and vegetable mix you and your baby prefer.
So, while many times jarred baby food can be a great relief while traveling or away from home, try your best to read ingredients and purchase them organic. Keep the dirty dozen list in mind, and even better off, try making homemade baby food yourself!
Editor’s Note: Noor Salem is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and is CEO of her own wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition, LLC. Noor specialized in women’s health, weight loss, and food intolerance versus allergies. She offers individual and group health coaching programs, and is a speaker on the topic of holistic health at workshops and seminars. The views expressed here are her own.