Let's talk about rice. I know, how sexy of us. Remember the days when this topic would make us laugh and roll our eyes at those kind of moms who only talk about their babies - what to feed them, what to dress them in, what classes they are doing with them and most importantly how cute their baby was.
Well that's us now.
Come on over to my bench and I will always have a seat warm for you.
Friends are always there for each other.
If you were like me, you have no idea where to start with baby food. I was clueless. For most of us, we are going to start our baby out eating rice cereal. So like many moms, I went to the store and reached for a box of organic brown rice cereal. It looked easy and was probably healthy since it costs almost $4 for box. And then I read the label. Woo! 14 ingredients in one box and 21 ingredients in another. Why? I thought it was just supposed to be rice cereal. How hard can this be. So I put the box back and walked to the bulk section and got 1 ingredient and 1 ingredient only to make my own rice cereal - Rice.
It all starts with brown rice, and all rice is not equal. Brown rice is hands down the best rice for your baby. It is loaded with B3, B1, B6, Manganese, Selenium, Magnesium, fiber and essential fatty acids.
All of that in a little grain of rice, pretty awesome.
White rice, is not that awesome. In fact it doesn't even come close. The process to convert brown rice to white rice loses up to 67% of all nutrients and all of the fiber and essential fatty acids.
So do me and your baby a favor and always start with organic brown rice.
Brown Rice Cereal
Since you are going to be grinding up some rice, you might as well make a big batch and keep the rest in an air-tight container in your fridge or a dark cabinet. This way it is ready whenever you need it. Put organic brown rice in a blender or food processor and blend until it is a fine powder. Don't worry if there are some smaller chunks. This will take a couple minutes and will probably be a little loud, so if you have a light sleeper make sure to do this while they are up.
1/4 cup of organic brown rice powder
1 cup of water
Bring water to a boil in small sauce pan. Add brown rice powder to water and whisk for 30 seconds straight to get rid of any clumps. Turn down to low and continue to stir every so often for the next 5 minutes. The mixture will be thick so you might want to add breast milk or formula to rice cereal for desired consistency.
I will honestly say that I never gave my baby plain brown rice cereal, I always mixed it with another puree to maximize taste and nutrition. Here are a couple of my favorites:
2 tbsp organic brown rice cereal mixed with 1 ounce of Apples + Cinnamon
2 tbsp organic brown rice cereal mixed with 1 ounce of Carrots + Nutmeg
2 tbsp organic brown rice cereal mixed with 1 ounce of Peas + Zucchini + Mint
Remember to only introduce one new food every couple of days at this stage and watch for signs of allergies. The reason these combinations are my favorite is because they all have a very low chance of causing allergies in babies. After I tried each mixture and found no allergies I mixed them up to my heart's content.
Brown Rice - 9 months to 18 months
As soon as your baby is reaching for food, it is time to start letting them feed themselves - get the plastic mat ready under the high chair because it's going to be messy. And Fun. And Annoying when they drop their spoon/fork/sippy cup/bowl/food again and again and again. It's OK. We all get through it.
I find that the best rice to add to the mix at this stage is the organic short grain brown rice. It has more starch in it then medium or long grain rice so it clumps together and to other foods making it easier for the babies little fingers to grab it and feed themselves. If you have a rice cooker, by all means use this method because it is really a kitchen appliance that is a no-brainer on how easy it is. Otherwise, you can use the stovetop method.
1 cup organic short grain brown rice
2 1/4 cup water
For both stovetop or rice cooker, you will want to wash your rice. Put rice into mesh strainer and wash with cold water until water runs clear. Put rice into a medium size pot and fry the rice for a 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add water and bring to a boil. Stir once. Cover tightly with lid. Turn down to low heat and cook for 45 minutes or until all water has been absorbed.
Rice will stay good in the fridge for several days. I tend to make a huge batch and then freeze my leftovers in a glass container with a airtight lid. When I need some rice I simple scoop or break some out of the container and either defrost on the stovetop on low or I put it in a microwave safe bowl, cover rice with wet paper towel and heat for 2-3 minutes.
Brown Rice - 18 months +
Once your baby is feeding themselves (Hooray!!), I would suggest switching the brown rice to the medium or long grain variety simply because it has a better proportion with the rest of the small food they are eating. You can follow the recipe above for stovetop directions.