Week 14: Cantaloupe (or Melon) and Lentils

Cantaloupe (or Melon)

Cantaloupe for Your Baby

The word "cantaloupe" can mean many things to people. We are referring to the melon with a meshed rind and orange flesh inside. Cantaloupe is a good fruit to buy every week because because you can store it for a long period of time before cutting open (on your counter top) and after cutting open in the refrigerator. When you are buying a packaged fruit cup, you will almost always see it included because it keeps so well.

For your baby, cantaloupe is another great first finger food as long as it is really ripe and soft.

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When is baby ready?

8 months old

How to buy

It is almost impossible to tell the ripeness of a cantaloupe from the outside before cutting open. This can be very frustrating because an unripe cantaloupe just tastes like styrofoam. The measure of ripeness is how easily it falls of the vine and since most of us don't have cantaloupe vines we can't tell if it is ripe. Don't feel bad if you cut it open and it isn't ripe.

Homemade Baby Food Recipe

Just cut up and serve.

How to store

Cantaloupe will last a while on your counter top. If it starts to smell good then it is probably ready to eat. Cut up into cubes and store in a plastic container for easy snacking.

Are there baby food jars?

No.

Should I buy organic?

Tough skin protects it from pesticide contamination.

Adult Recipe

Cantaloupe and Prosciutto

1 cantaloupe
4 oz prosciutto
Cut cantaloupe in half, scoop out seeds, and remove rind. Cut into wedges and wrap prosciutto around the wedge. Insert toothpick to hold together or just eat! This is a great starter to a meal.

Lentils

Lentils For Your Baby

Lentils are a staple food for Indian culture, and are a wonderful source of protein. A meal of lentils and rice provides all the amino acids your body needs to function. That is why the staple of beans and rice sustains so many cultures around the world. Here in the United States, we tend to rely on meat as our amino acid (or protein) source. This reliance may have led us down the path of greater amounts of heart disease in comparison to other cultures because the amount of saturated fat in meat. If you currently don't eat beans, you might want to find a way to incorporate them in your diet as a low fat alternative to meat.

A variety of lentils exist with colors that range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black. We will use the easy to find, green lentil.

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When is baby ready?

8 months old

How to buy

You will find plastic bags of lentils next to the other dried beans in the store. In some stores, you can find pre-cooked lentils in a plastic package. These can be a great time saver!

Homemade Baby Food Recipe

Making lentils can take some time. After you make a big batch, you can freeze small amounts for the future. If you don't want to waste time just cooking lentils for baby - serve her Coconut Dal (this weeks adult recipe). She will probably love it!
First put in sieve and inspect for damaged lentils or stones. Then rinse until the water runs through and comes out clear. Put lentils in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat until it the lentils simmer steadily, but not violently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft 40-60 minutes.

How to store

Store in cupboard for 6 months.

Are there baby food jars?

No.

Should I buy organic?

Yes if you can find them.

Adult Recipe

This is a basic lentil recipe and you can always keep the ingredients in the cupboard for an easy meal. This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman's, "How to Cook Everything".

Coconut Dal

1 pound dried lentils
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or 1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
First put lentils in sieve and inspect for damaged lentils or stones. Then rinse until the water runs through and comes out clear. Combine all ingredients except salt and pepper in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to boil over high heat and then adjust to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft (40-60 minutes).

Eating tip of the week

Don't be afraid to give your baby spices. In the Dal recipe we use coconut milk for flavor, and you might find that your baby loves it! Most babies don't like cayenne or jalapeno (strong pepper that burns the mouth). You can use curry powder, cinnamon, and cumin to flavor baby's food. These spices are just a few examples of flavors your baby might like (other than sugar). Just think of all those Indian mothers serving their baby curried breast milk.

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