There are many ways to prepare fruits, and each method has its own benefits to your baby’s health.
Cooked Fruit Puree
Cooking fruits brings out their sweetness and reduces liquid. Cooking also changes the cooling properties of the fruits, which helps your baby predigest them. Apple and pear sauce or baked fruits are easy to make, and you can store them for several days in the refrigerator, or freeze batches for later use. Kuzu is a highly alkaline-producing food and also has a calming effect on babies. Cooking fresh fruits in apple juice or water with kuzu can be used as a soothing dish during an illness, and it is also a healthy, easy, and delicious filling for pies or cake frosting.
Fresh fruits are a delicious and refreshing treat or dessert, especially on a warm summer day. They can have a cooling effect on your baby’s body, which helps balance hot weather. Raw fruits can relax, calm, or cool your baby.
When my daughters Emi and Mari reached around eight months old, I made them delicious fruit gelos made from vegetarian gelatin, or agar. Diluted fruit juices, pureed or fresh fruits, combined with agar make a tasty dessert with a delicate texture. You can adjust the recipe to accommodate the age of your child, and other family members can also enjoy this healthy, natural gelatin.
Raisins, currants, and dried apricots and cherries are fresh fruits that have been dehydrated. The drying process removes the liquid and makes the fruits sweeter and more yang than their fresh counterparts. Because of their concentrated sweetness, you can boil dried fruits in water and use that water as a sweetener in other dishes. Dried fruits that are cooked can be served as a puree or spread on bread and crackers.
Often, conventional dried fruits are treated with sulfur dioxide, which is a preservative and makes the color lighter; some people are sensitive to this ingredient and may develop allergic reactions to it. Sometimes fruits are blanched before drying, which reduces their flavor and nutrition. Organic dried fruits are unsulfured and have a darker color. They do not last as long as fruits containing preservatives, but you can freeze them for a longer shelf life.
Jams and Spreads
The summer that I was pregnant with [my daughter] Mari, I got the idea in my head to make 52 pint jars of jam, one for every week of the year. On several early mornings, [my daughter] Emi and I went with buckets and sunhats for an excursion to our local strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry fields. We ate and picked our berries, and then returned home and industriously cooked and canned the fruits. After Mari was born, we did not eat a jar of jam per week, but we did enjoy delicious homemade jam for several years. You never know what projects the progesterone of pregnancy will initiate!
Jam is made of whole fruits, including seeds and skins. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, and apricots make delicious jam and can be combined with sweeteners such as rice syrup, maple syrup, or honey, and pectin, arrowroot, or kuzu as a thickener. Most packaged all-fruit spreads and apple or pear butter are made by slow cooking pureed fruits over low heat without using additional sweetener. Jams and spreads are a healthy way to satisfy your toddler’s sweet tooth, and they are convenient for nut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Juicing fruits extracts fiber and nutrients, and concentrates its sweetness and cooling properties. Diluting fruit juices with water as a drink for your child diffuses the impact of the concentrated sweetness, providing a refreshing drink and a sweetener for desserts. As a daily beverage, however, too much fruit juice can cause problems for your child, such as diarrhea, childhood obesity, and early tooth decay.
Combining Fruits with Other Foods
Certain foods combine well together, while others do not. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats take longer to digest than fruits do, because fruits take less time to break down. Mixing fruits with other foods such as grains, vegetables, or beans that take longer to digest can create gas in your baby’s digestive system. They can cause indigestion, cramps, and belching. Most vegetables require different enzymes than fruits require for digestion, so combining vegetables and fruits disturbs the effectiveness of the enzymes and interferes with your baby’s ability to absorb nutrients.
If sweetener is needed for grains, beans, or vegetables, brown rice syrup is more digestible because it comes from a grain source. Apples are an exception because they have a neutral effect and can mix with vegetables or grains without causing digestive problems. Cooking fruits makes them more digestible, so they may be combined with grains in some desserts such as rice pudding.