One of the first solids -- if you can really call it that -- that doctors recommend giving your baby is cereal. I'm not talking about Cheerios or Rice Krispies. No, this is cereal that you reconstitute with breast milk or formula. It comes in just three different varieties, as far as I can tell: rice, oatmeal and multi-grain. When you mix the cereal with liquid, you get an unappealing gray paste -- kind of like loose cement, or the goop we dipped strips of newspaper in to make paper maché in elementary school.
At first, Clara couldn't get enough of the stuff. She virtually inhaled it every morning (there weren't a whole lot of other breakfast options at that point). But then we started working in things like cottage cheese and stopped pushing vegetables and meat through a sieve. And Clara started turning away when we tried to give her cereal.
I tried making her farina, then grits, then oatmeal, but these were all met with disdain. My theory? She doesn't like anything mushy -- she wants more substantial fare that she can chew on.
Enter the wonderful world of grains. Pretty early on, we started giving her pastine and Israeli couscous at lunch or dinner, mixing them with lamb, beef or chicken and vegetables. When we hit the breakfast roadblock, I started thinking about alternative grains with heft that might sub in for more standard cereal grains. One of our biggest successes so far is millet. It's versatile, lending itself nicely to a balance of creamy and chewy at the same time.
Below is a simple recipe for cheesy millet that Clara enjoys, and here are some other grains you might want to consider for breakfast if you -- like we -- have a baby who enjoys a little texture:
If there are other grains you feed your baby, let me know in the comments section -- I'm always looking for new ideas!
Serves 2 to 3 as a main course, more as a side or for baby
Photos by James Ransom
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).Order now