Baby’s Best Bites: Lentils

My ‘Baby’s Best Bites’ series focuses on nutritious, whole ingredients that every parent should know about. These are foods that do a baby good and are easy to incorporate into the whole family’s diet. Check out my other Baby’s Best spotlights on yogurt, avocado, and eggs.

Lentils are a wonderful introductory food for babies, and pretty delicious for mom and dad, too. These legumes grow in a pod and are commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern foods, among other cuisines. And though they may be little, they pack a big nutritional punch.
Lentils are very low in fat and sodium and are a slow dissolving food which helps keep baby feeling satisfied. They’re a great source of fiber and protein—one cup of lentils provides about 16 grams of fiber 17 grams of protein!—and although they are not a complete protein, they make one when paired with whole grains like brown rice.
There’s even more to the story! Lentils are packed with folate, magnesium and other essential vitamins and minerals. Together, these things help produce new cells, promote bone health and generally keep your body running smoothly. You may have noticed that there are several types of lentils, like brown, red, and French. Though there are some differences in taste and texture (brown are most common and mild, French green are a little peppery and tend to stay firm), they are all fairly mild and have the same basic nutritional profile.
I love lentils for little ones since they naturally come in a bite size that’s perfect for beginner eaters. They turn into puree with a quick whiz of your Baby Bullet or you can let them retain a texture that’s safe for little ones by gently mashing them with your fork. And unlike other dried legumes, lentils cook quickly. A big plus for the family chef!
Cook up a batch of lentils, puree for baby and use the rest as a stuffing for veggies, soup, salad or just mix with rice for a complete protein to go with your roast chicken. Here are some of my favorite lentil recipes to get you started.

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