a complete meal for baby
Rice porridge (otherwise known as congee or muai) – is the boss’ favourite meal. When my mom visits she always makes a big pot of it for her and it’s gone within a couple of days. I know other babies like it too, because I usually bring a jar of it with me just in case I’m in need of something to feed the boss and her little friends try a bite and want more! It’s actually also one of my favourite meals (see slow cooker congee). The great thing about rice porridge is that the combinations are endless – and to me, as long as there is some protein, some veggies that bring sweetness, fibre, and good nutritional value – then that’s perfect! Traditionally the base of congee is white rice, but in this recipe I substituted half with lentils, which gave a bit more texture, fibre and nutrition.
You can also make this same recipe in the slow cooker – place all ingredients in the cooking vessel and set on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
prep: 10 min cook: 1 hour yield: about 12 mason jars
what you need:
- 1/2 cup dried red lentils
- 1/2 cup short grain rice (I used a mix of brown and white)
- 6 asparagus
- 1/2 large sweet potato
- 3/4 cup green peas (I used frozen)
- 1 portion of cooked salmon (about 4 oz or so) – I used left over BBQ’d salmon from last night’s dinner
- 5 cups of water
what to do:
- Rinse rice and lentils well, then drain.
- Place rice, lentils and 5 cups of water in a medium or large pot. Cover with lid and place on high heat to bring to boil.
- While you are waiting for your water to boil, prep vegetables by washing thoroughly, trimming asparagus ends, and peeling sweet potato. Chop sweet potato and asparagus into small baby bite size pieces (about the same size as the peas). Set aside.
- Flake salmon using your fingers – I like to use my hands to do this part to ensure that any fish bones get removed.
- Once your water comes to a boil, add the prepped bowl of salmon and veggies to the pot and then lower the heat to medium-low for a simmer. It will need to simmer away for about 45 min – 1 hour, but set a timer for 20 minutes to come back and give it a good stir. You will know it’s ready when most of the water is absorbed and it is an oatmeal type of consistency – don’t worry if it seems a little soupy, as it cools down it will thicken even more.
- Remove from heat and remove lid, then allow to cool before transferring to storage containers. I use mason jars and glass containers, so it was okay that it was still warm when I transferred it.
*If you are enjoying it yourself or serving it to an older child/toddler, feel free to season it lightly with a little bit of salt & pepper, or a tiny drizzle of soy sauce on top. When I eat this, I also like to top it off with chopped green onion and cilantro for garnish. Enjoy!
like clockwork, the boss eats a whole jar at 5am!
a bowl that warms the belly…and your heart
If you love comfort food you’ll love this recipe! I’ll admit it’s not the most attractive looking bowl of food – but it’s one of my favourite meals, and it takes me back to my childhood every time I eat it. It’s basically an asian version of a good ol’ bowl of oatmeal. I still remember visiting Taiwan as a little girl and being excited to wake up to have this for breakfast. Growing up, this became one of those staple meals my mom made when we were sick or had sore tummies. I can still remember the big pot on the stove gently simmering away and me asking my mom, “is it ready yet?”. Because the rice and whatever else you choose to put into it cooks slowly for a long period of time, it has a pleasant soft and mushy consistency. Sounds weird…but honestly it just warms your heart and soothes your stomach because it is easy to digest. Even more soothing if you add slices of ginger to it! And if you use a good chicken broth (or put chicken bones in it as my mom sometimes does), then the whole house just smells like comfort.
I started making this a lot because the boss (my 7 month old) was having trouble with her tummy once we introduced solids at 6 months…and I found it particularly worse if she had iron fortified rice cereal. Pureed prunes helped but giving her prunes all the the time just seemed mean! I wouldn’t want prunes with every meal. So I gave her this one day and she gobbled it up. I love it because I can put lots of iron rich foods into the porridge (such as dark greens, chicken, or lentils) and I can make a lot of it easily in a slow cooker. What’s even better is that my whole family enjoys it, so it is a very welcome meal in our household. Even my husband loves it – when you think of baby food you don’t think man food but when he comes home from work and smells it in the slow cooker I get a “mmmmm!”. Win win.
The recipe below uses ingredients left over from my previous post, roasted chicken for all.
what you need:
- 10 cups chicken stock (homemade recipe) or water
- 3 big slices of fresh ginger *optional
- 1 roasted chicken breast
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen edamame, shelled
- 1 1/2 cups mixed brown and white rice, short grain for a traditional asian style congee
- 1 green onion and a little fresh cilantro, optional for garnish
- naturally brewed soy sauce
what to do:
- Tear up the chicken breast into small pieces, sort of like a pulled pork style.
- Rinse rice in cold water, then place into slow cooker.
- Add stock, ginger and chicken to slow cooker as well.
- Cook on low setting for 5 hours (my slow cooker has two settings), stirring once or twice if possible – then add in the edamame. You may need to add a bit more stock or water at this point – about 1/2 cup or so. You can tell by looking at the edges – if the rice seems like it’s turning golden/brown or it’s very stuck to the sides, you definitely want to add liquid.
- Cook on low for another 2-3 hours, then add the peas for the last few minutes, just to warm them up.
- Finely chop green onion and cilantro.
- Ladle into bowls to serve, topping with 1 tsp soy sauce, green onion and cilantro. For baby food, simply omit garnish. Enjoy!
for mom & dad: topped with chunks of chicken, sweet potato & onion from the roasted chicken dinner and a drizzle of sriracha & soy sauce