Leena Saini will have your little one turning into a “foodie in a onesie,” and maybe you as well (though maybe not the onesie part). Her global approach to homemade baby food is well researched and full of flavorful recipes from every continent.
Saint starts by explaining why she began her quest to find flavorful alternatives to the bland rice cereal often used as baby’s first food in the U.S. and the reasoning behind serving food with spices to a baby as young as 6 months. This is followed by a brief discussion of using baby-friendly spices and a handy chart of global spices along with the basic pieces of equipment you may need to prepare baby food at home.
The recipes themselves are broken up into 3 sections. A Whole Wide World of Purees is for babies 6 months and up, this section contains the bulk of the recipes and often includes serving suggestions and added ingredients for the different age ranges. For babies 7 months and up, the ‘A Spoonful of Flavor’ section features introduces ingredients like fish and lamb. It also includes recipes that are teething friendly. The third section, ‘The Well-Seasoned High Chair,’ is for babies 10 months and up with even more spices and ingredients introduced.
The country and/or continent of origin is given with each recipe, along with a locator map, a brief discussion of an ingredient or cooking technique, and occasionally an age-based suggestion or two.
The recipes themselves are straight-forward and relatively simple, ranging from two to about twelve ingredients. The ingredients are listed with quantities (often requiring only a pinch of spice), with the instructions broken out as PREP, MAKE, and SERVE, with an occasional Variation. The Oven-Roasted Carrots with Cumin, for example, is to be served pureed for babies under 9 months but cut into bite-size pieces for those who are older and has variations that substitute other ingredients for the cumin.
Full of bright and appetizing pictures, I found it difficult narrow down which recipe to try first and I must admit that my initial list mostly comprised of all the recipes from India and France. I was also intrigued by the idea of Congee from China, where a base of rice has a mix-and-match list of ingredients to add. But I consulted with the mother of my 7-month old taste-tester, Marcus, and we quickly came up with a list of recipes spanning four continents: Purple Potato Mash from Peru, Saag Masala from India, Oven-Roasted Carrots with Cumin from Morocco/Northern Africa, and Saffron Apple Sauce from Spain. We then made the mistake of not closing the cookbook, and Justine impulsively added a Russian recipe for Pumpkin Millet Porridge.
Making five recipes in one day may not be the typical way to use this cookbook, but it was quite easily done on a Saturday afternoon. Making just one or two would be a quick task, perfect for moms who want to make fresh baby-food.
Be sure to note, however, how much each recipe makes as this can vary widely. The five recipes we taste-tested resulted in varying amounts of leftovers to refrigerate or freeze for future meals. While not all of the recipes will be instant hits, there are some recipes, like the Saffron Apple Sauce, where there is a danger that nothing will be left-over (it was a favorite with the adults, too!).
The cookbook is written in a friendly and informative style. A handy table of contents is found at the front and it concludes with a brief list of further reading and resources and each recipe is indexed by name and main ingredient. My sole complaint (that the Saag Masala needs more time for the flavors to marry, and Garam Masala may be too much for a 7-month old though I love it, is an opinion rather than a complaint) is that the book itself, while visually pleasing and well constructed (I do love french flaps), does not lay flat or stay open easily.
Around the World in 80 Purees is a cookbook I highly recommend. These are recipes that will have babies turning into foodies, and you may find yourself wanting to work them into your family meals as well.
You can read more about Leena Saini’s Around the World in 80 Purees on Quirk Books‘ website, where you’ll also find more recipe cards like this:
Around the World in 80 Purees by Leena Saini | Quirk Books, 2016 | paperback or ebook, 160 pages
Around the World in 80 Purees is available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lJPv7J (Bookworlder.wordpress.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)
This book intrigued me when it was first published and I was so excited when Marcus was old enough to be a taste-tester that I requested this book from the publisher, who was kind enough to send a free copy for review purposes. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.