This is a staple dish in my freezer stash for #babyjake. Lentils are an amazing source of plant-based protein, iron & fibre for little tummies. And when cooked into a hearty stew (much like a traditional dhal), the texture & taste is perfect for babies.
I used to steer clear of lentils because I assumed they required hours of soaking before cooking. But turns out that not all lentils require soaking. I often use tinned lentils for #babyjake, but this recipe works best with raw lentils, so that it can simmer into a thick stew.
#babyjake first had lentils at 7 months (pureed from a tin). Around 9 months, I made this recipe for him. I didn’t puree it – it’s one of the best recipes for getting little eaters used to texture, when you’re ready to graduate away from smooth purees.
Plus the coconut milk makes it sweet and creamy. And it’s really easy to make. Obviously 🙂
- 1 cup raw red or brown lentils (Woolies brown lentils don’t require soaking beforehand. Some sources say that soaking legumes aids digestion, but I’m lazy so I don’t always soak mine beforehand – especially not when I can buy the Woolies ones that don’t require soaking. But you can use any dried lentils you want, and you can soak them overnight before cooking if you so desire)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 1 tin coconut milk (I use one from a health shop that doesn’t contain any added preservatives or flavourants)
- Enough chicken or vegetable stock to cover the mixture (I use a low sodium, MSG free natural veggie stock powder. It’s not ideal as it still contains salt but I’m not losing sleep over it. Woolies also makes an organic liquid stock. As well as a low sodium version. Some moms make their own stock – it’s really easy. But it’s up to you. You can also just use some plain boiling water and add dried mixed herbs if you really don’t want to use a ready-made stock. Or use 2 tins of coconut milk instead of one for added flavour)
- Heat a large saucepan with a generous amount of coconut oil or olive oil. Brown the onion.
- Add the diced carrots. And briefly saute.
- Turn down the heat. Add the tin of coconut milk. Add the lentils. Give it a nice mix.
- Cover with the stock / hot water. You want all the contents to be nicely covered with water, but not drowning in it either.
- Cover and simmer on the stove for 30 – 45 minutes (stirring occasionally and checking that the liquid doesn’t run out), until the lentils and carrots are well cooked and soft – and all the liquid has been evaporated into a nice thick and creamy stew.
- Don’t puree – this is a great recipe for getting babies used to texture (from around 9 months). But puree it if your little one is younger.
- Freeze in ice tray portions. Freezes and defrosts perfectly.
- Around 9 months, #babyjake would eat 1-2 cubes of this lentil mix – almost every day for lunch.
- You can serve this on its own as a meal. Or add stuff to it. Some ideas:
- Lentil mix on its own as a plant based protein meal
- Lentil mix + mashed sardines
- Lentil mix + mashed sardines + sweet potato
- Lentil mix + mashed sardines + avo (and can add cream cheese too)
- Lentil mix + spinach puree + cream cheese (can also add a mashed hard boiled egg)
Other Legume Recipes for Baby:
Lentils aren’t the only legumes #babyjake eats. I also make him homemade hummus using chickpeas (hummus is a great first puree). And here’s a recipe for homemade baby biscuits, made using chickpea flour! Great way to sneak in extra protein!
And I also give him lentils as a finger food. Great for fine motor coord and pincer grip. See #babyjake’s Top 50 other finger food ideas over here.
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