Doctors and nutritionists are understanding more and more how essential healthy eating habits are; not just as adults, but from the very start of a baby's life.
But, babies and toddlers require lots of attention; so much so that preparing and finding healthy options may seem like a daunting task.
Dana Angelo White, author of First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers
, wanted to make it a bit easier by providing a "guide" for busy parents full of simple, fast, and nutritious recipes.
White bases the book on her own list of superfoods... but not in the traditional sense.
The term "superfood" is often misunderstood; people think that it has to be this obscure food that is hard to find and frankly not very tasty.
But, White defines her superfoods as being delicious, beautiful and filled with nutrients. In her mind, apples are superfoods as are butternut squash, cheese, edamame, cocoa powder, lentils, peanut butter, oats, brown rice, and salmon.
The book contains 75 recipes, organized by her superfood categories. Each section has age-appropriate recipes ranging from babies to adults.
The book also lists White's top picks for kitchen equipment, including a food mill, quality blender and a sharp knife.
Listen in as White joins Andrea and Lisa to share more about her book, as well as some recipe ideas and a quick tip for peeling butternut squash.
RadioMD Presents:Naturally Savvy | Original Air Date: March 11, 2015
Hosts: Andrea Donsky, RHN & Lisa Davis
Guest: Dana Angelo White, MS, RD
Your organic search is over. Here's Naturally Savvy with health experts, Andrea Donsky and Lisa Davis.
LISA: When thinking about what to give your baby and toddler, of course you want to give them the best and so I highly recommend First Bites: Super Foods for Baby and Toddlers. Let's just say that this book's not just for babies and toddlers because I made some of the recipes in here. Although some people might say I'm a big baby. Okay. I digress.
We have got Dana Angela White, MS, RDATC on the show.
DANA: Hi, ladies. Thank you for having me.
LISA: It's great to have you on. So, I think we know "MS" and "RD", Master's of Science, Registered Dietician. What is an ATC?
DANA: ATC is a Certified Athletic Trainer. So, I actually have a degree in sports medicine. I started out in the sports medicine world kind of doing…It's emergency medicine and sports rehabilitation for athletes. That kind of was my first career path. In doing that, I got very interested in nutrition and in helping athletes kind of better their performance with nutrition. So, the athletic training brought me to become a registered dietician.
LISA: That's so cool. Now, you mentioned before we came on. What is it? Registered Dietician Day international something like that?
DANA: It is. It's National Registered Dietician Day today, so RDs like myself are kind of celebrating everything that we do to kind of promote healthy eating around the country.
LISA: Alright. Well, let's talk about this. What are some of your favorite super foods that you recommend for people to give their babies and toddlers?
DANA: So, my list of super foods is about 50 foods. More than about half of them are fruits and vegetables. So, it's probably not a surprise and I think "super food" gets kind of misused a lot and I think people often think that a super food has to be this kind of obscure, maybe hard to find thing, but my definition is more about kind of delicious and beautiful. So, apples are super foods. They're filled with nutrients; great for everybody growing. Children and adults as well. So, I kind of give love to a bunch of different everyday fruits and vegetables. If I had to pick some of my favorites, I think butternut squash is definitely on my list.
ANDREA: Yes. Love it.
DANA: It's kind of because it fits that bill of being beautiful and having all these nutrients to offer. Then, I get into, in the book, looking at other categories as well. So, even things like cheese and edamame and lentils and peanut butter, oats, brown rice, even cocoa powder makes the super foods list in my book.
ANDREA: Does your book—unfortunately, I don't have a copy in front of me—does your book have a bunch of recipes that people can look to, to make for their families?
DANA: It does. It has about 75 recipes and I've organized them by the super food, so there are the fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy and egg, grains and then the book is kind of categorized by those different categories and then each section, it has age appropriate recipes for everything from little babies up through toddlers and kind of like you were saying, adults. I mean, these are the recipes that we make in my house all the time.
LISA: Yes, there are a lot of really great things. I love your breakfast quinoa with cherries. My daughter really liked that which was nice. I love that you can use a milk substitute like almond milk. You've got quinoa, a little bit of brown sugar and some fresh or dried cherries. All the recipes are simple, which is nice. They don't have like a million ingredients, obviously, because you want them to be healthy. Just like I said, you can eat this stuff. You've got a roasted salmon in here that I'm going to be making.
DANA: Good. That one—you know, I think salmon overwhelms people. I think people don't make it for themselves because they just don't know how or don't think that they know how. So, a simple roast in the oven with a little bit of mustard or maple syrup and some of those things makes it so easy. You know, the book was kind of meant to be a guide for busy parents. So, yes. The recipes are not time consuming because, as busy parents, we don't have time to do that. So kind of framed in that idea of "here's some fresh, delicious whole foods and here's some really easy ways to use them" that, hopefully, everyone in the family will be happy about.
LISA: Now, I was going to ask you about your inspiration in terms of being in the kitchen and trying all these different things. What kept you going? Because it's a lot of work to put together a cookbook.
DANA: You know, I was really looking forward to doing it. It was definitely a lot of work. You know, you hear horror stories about having no life while you're working on this, you know? But, I must say, it was a really positive experience for me. Certainly a lot of work, but worth it. I mean, my children, who are 3 and 5, were my taste testers. You know, part of it really was just taking some of the recipes that we make all the time and writing them down. Then, other things were kind of coming up with new creations and then letting them kind of play with it and try it and see what they thought of it. So, my family really was a big part of putting this book together because they kind of helped me create it along the way.
ANDREA: That's the best way anyway because when you know that your kids like it, you know that other kids are going to like it, too. So, I mean, it's amazing to have them with you when they're preparing it and then, you're like, "Yes. Kid approved." We know it's going to be a hit, right?
DANA: Absolutely. You know, we had friends come over. I mentioned this in the book, I have this kind of network of neighborhood moms and really close friends and we all spend a lot of time together. Literally, I had my friends that are moms like me testing a lot of the recipes because I didn't want to just be easy for me. I wanted it to be easy for everyone. So, I really did kind of did go through that and get their seal of approval as well, even from the kids eating it, but also from fellow moms making the recipes and testing them for me.
LISA: You know what's great about the book, too, is you actually have some equipment. What are some things that will help moms or dads or caregivers use your book and really be able to make these recipes?
DANA: Depending on the age. For baby food, my number one piece of equipment is a food mill which is really considered this kind of archaic…Do you guys know what a food mill is?
LISA: No, I don't.
ANDREA: I don't think so. What is that?
DANA: It's a hand-cranked, tiny little contraption that you can use to puree fruits, vegetables, soups—you can use it for sauces.
ANDREA: I think I know what you're talking about. Okay.
DANA: It is amazing. I mean, they make these fancy baby food makers now that cost tons of money and you don't even need it. Nothing makes baby food better than a food mill and they cost like $20 bucks. So, as far as baby food goes, that's my definite number one. A good quality blender was another one. It doesn't have to be top of the line but to make smoothies and, again, for baby food and even for some of the sauce recipes in the book, a good blender is a really good way to get fruits and vegetables into your kids.
One of the other tips I make for equipment is a decent knife. You know, I go to my mom's house and I try to cut things and it's harder on my hand to try to cut something. So, if you want to fresh and whole foods, you don't need top of the line, real expensive, but a decent knife so that you can kind of work with all these fresh ingredients, can be super helpful.
LISA: That is really good. Yes, it does make a difference. I can't stand a dull knife. There's like nothing worse. Hey, do you any tips on how to cut a butternut squash? I swear, when I try to peel that thing, it's impossible. Because you were talking about butternut squash.
DANA: It's so true. Honestly, what I do is, I peel it first. I think if you cut it…and so, first I peel it and then I basically cut…You know, I cut the kind of round, cylindrical part and then there's the round bulb at the bottom. I separate those two pieces. Once it's peeled, I separate those pieces first. Then, I find it's a little bit easier to work with when you halve the two pieces, then I cut the bottom—the base of it--in half, scoop out the seeds and then you can chop that up. But, I've tried cutting it and then peeling it and it never seems to work that well, so definitely peel it first and then separate those two sections because they're so different in shape, I feel like it's kind of easier to get at it once you break it apart, but you've got to peel it first. I've found that makes a big difference.
ANDREA: Or, you can buy it pre-cut at the store.
LISA: That is true.
DANA: And just take all of that out of it. Yes.
LISA: That is true, although sometimes it sits in the bin too long and then it gets a little funky and then I’m like, "Ugh." You have to cut it yourself.
DANA: I've got to say…and I have some that you do the sniff test. I even had a friend bring it over once to me and was, "Can I eat this? Is this still okay?" It's pretty forgiving, but…Actually, I tried growing butternut squash in my garden this past summer. The taste was just amazing, so that actually made it worth it and then I had to peel and chop it on my own.
LISA: Oh, boy. Well, Dana. We love the book. First Bites: Super Foods for Babies and Toddlers. How do we learn more about you?
DANA: So, you can go to my website which is DanaWhiteNutrition.com. Then, as far as my social media is really: dwnutrition (for Dana White Nutrition) and I actually just started a new Instagram account which is Dana Angela White where I'm posting every weeknight dinner that I make for my family, which has been really fun. That's something I just started doing as of January.
ANDREA: Well, Dana, I'm obsessed with Instagram, so we'll follow each other. I'm @AndreaDonsky. Totally obsessed, so let's do it. I'm loving Instagram these days.
LISA: Well, I want to thank everyone for listening. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Have a great day and stay well.