Integrating Eastern Vegetables into Toddler Food
by Zhengyuan Liang
At Smart Moms Organics, we try to integrate as many different vegetables into our dishes as possible. The primary reason is to make sure we maximize the nutrition your toddler gets in every bite. Every vegetable has different qualities from a nutritional standpoint. Each vegetable has a unique nutritional profile, with varying health properties.
Food is our universal language. Through exploring global food, we want to expose our children to a variety of ingredients and set up our children to thrive no matter what they are offered on the plate. Our parents have told us that this is a great feature and has helped their little ones prepare for school or daycare.
In this week’s blog post, we invite you into our pantry as we explore some of the Eastern ingredients we like to use in our dishes.
Chinese Yam is known to contain zinc, manganese, iron and selenium. It has beneficial antioxidants and in some cultures is taken daily as a health supplement. It has a good amount of vitamin B1 and C and contains mucilage, which is a fiber that binds to toxins. Chinese Yam is used in many culinary ways. It can be boiled, fried, mashed or used in soup. On our menu today, it is featured in our Chinese yam scissor noodles, red bean yam cake and spinach yam marble cake.
Our spinach yam marble cake is made of just three simple healthy ingredients: egg, spinach and Chinese yam.
A simple way to use Chinese Yam at home would be to make lightly sautéed Chinese yam with soy and sesame. You wash, peel and cut it into ½ inch discs. Sauté in a little oil with a pinch of salt. When starting to brown, pour a tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce or tamari and cook for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a small plate and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. This recipe is popular as it is quick, tasty, high in fiber and low in calories.
Jujubes are used in sweet and savory cooking across the Eastern hemisphere. They are known as red or Chinese dates and when ripe are red or purple and slightly wrinkled. Due to their sweet taste and chewy texture, jujubes are often dried and used as candies in Asia.
Jujubes are low in calories, high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals. Three jujubes contain around 77% of your recommended daily value of vitamin C. Due to the high antioxidant, vitamin and mineral profile, Jujubes are revered in Eastern culture and holistic medicine and are used as part of natural remedies for immunity, digestion and as a tonic for the nervous system.
Jujubes are featured in a number of different ways in our recipes. A popular drink on our ready-to-eat drinks menu is our Walnut Soymilk. It is made of three simple ingredients: walnuts, soymilk and jujubes. It is an easy on the go, nutritionally dense drink that kids love to grab as a snack on their way home from school. Jujubes are also featured in our Apple Hawthorn sweet soup. It is made of 4 simple ingredients: apple, hawthorn, jujubes and sugar.
A simple jujube recipe used for sore throats is jujube ginger tea. You boil three cups of water for 10 minutes with 8 jujubes, a 4-inch piece of ginger and add honey to taste.
Mung Beans are small green beans that are part of the legume family. They have been cultivated for thousands of years and are used across India, China and parts of south east Asia. They can be found as dried beans or in their sprouted form and are used for soups, stir-fries as well as in sweet preparations.
One cup of mung beans has 14g protein, 15g of fiber and 80% of your recommended daily amount of folate. They are also high in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc and multiple B vitamins.
Mung beans contain many antioxidants, which help to neutralize free radicals that contribute to heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Due to their high fiber, potassium and magnesium, mung beans have been linked to lower blood pressure.
Two of our customers’ favorite dishes that feature mung beans are our mini mung bean cakes and our pear mung bean with dried lily sweet soup. The mini mung bean cakes are made up of mung beans, milk, butter and sugar. Our toddlers love them as they fit neatly into their hands, are interesting to look at and taste great. Our parents like that they are high in folate and low in cholesterol. Another fan favorite is the pear mung bean with dried lily sweet soup. It is a lovely sweet cooling soup for the summer and autumn days and introduces our toddlers to a number of our favorite ingredients.
A simple mung bean recipe is to take sprouted mung beans and stir fry them in sesame oil, with salt, pepper and sesame seeds. These make a great salad topping, adding protein and texture to the dish.