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When my child was ready for real food, I faced a challenge with what to feed her. I had every intention of giving her a quality organic diet. I was even going to make my own baby food, but much to my disappointment, she wasn’t interested. I spent hours creating new fresh combos. Nothing ever passed her lips though. Then berry season came and she finally accepted a food – STRAWBERRIES! I was so excited. The breakthrough drove me back to the kitchen on a quest to come up with something portable and palatable (let’s face it, strawberries are messy and not exactly car friendly).

I saw the variety of options on the baby isle at grocery store and there are a lot of organic options now, but I thought I could do better. I bought a few cereal type melt-away snacks to get an idea of content and taste. It was easy to see why she wouldn’t eat most of them after I tasted them (YUCK! I thought my taste buds might never recover.). I also didn’t want to feed her a bunch of rice cereal though and it seemed like most of the snacks had rice as a main ingredient. For starters, rice is not exactly nutrient dense and it tends to be high in arsenic. I wasn’t about to load her up on arsenic, so I didn’t want to give her anything containing rice or rice syrup.

Then it came to me…why not quinoa? I love, love, love quinoa myself and have replaced it for rice in every recipe before it ever gained its new found popularity. It is high in protein, but better than that it contains all nine essential amino acids, which is hard to come by in the plant world. In addition quinoa contains important vitamins and minerals. If you need more convincing on its nutritional benefits, there is plenty of information out there.

Back to my creation… Thanks to all quinoa’s popularity, it’s been conveniently turned into quinoa flakes for a hot cereal. Yay for me, I now had my easy replacement for rice cereal. I already had a baby food blender/processor and so with a quick flip of a switch, I milled it into a powder. Now, I was getting somewhere. Then, I began experimenting with the jars of blended fruit (that my little stinker wouldn’t eat) and came up with this little gem.

Keep in mind that quinoa does have a different flavor, so you won’t want to skip the cinnamon. For me I find it covers up the slight bitterness it can have. Also, the riper and fresher the fruit, the better. It doesn’t mean you can’t use frozen berries. I just recommend freezing your own when they are in season because you tend to get a lot better quality when you do it yourself. Don’t skimp on the organic strawberries if can help it either. Strawberries retain some of the highest levels of pesticides compared to other fruits and vegetables.

 

Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Quinoa Drops

Ingredients:

¼ C quinoa flour (milled quinoa flakes)

4 ripe medium strawberries

½ ripe medium banana

3 Tbs applesauce

2 dashes cinnamon

 

Begin with milling your quinoa flakes into a flour. I use a baby food processor for this, but any kitchen appliance that can grind/mill it into a fine flour will work. Puree the strawberries, banana, and applesauce until smooth. Add in the quinoa flour and cinnamon. Blend until well combined. It will resemble a thick paste.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper (foil works in a pinch). Fill a pastry bag with your cereal paste and begin squeezing into dime size drops on the paper. If you don’t have a pastry bag, use a baby spoon to dab the drops onto your cookie sheet. You will want to work quickly so the mixture doesn’t have time to spread out. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes or until drops are lightly golden on the bottom. Let them cool slightly and remove parchment paper from cookie sheet until they have finished cooling. They should peel easily from the paper and can be stored in the fridge for several days. You can refrigerate mixture between batches or to improve firmness.

Feel free to experiment with other flavors to keep things fresh.

 

Cover photo provided by www.gurneys.com 

Published by JM Sayles