Quinoa Baby Cereal Recipe. Keen Who?

carrots

Jasper enjoying some carrots. Or at least his face is enjoying some carrots!

Shot with my Digital Rebel
Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens at these settings:
F 1.4 (wide open baby!)
Shutter speed 1/80th
ISO 400.

I don’t know how much you remember my “GI Jasper” posts (anything that references his allergies, bowel habits,  reflux or GI system in general) but the short story is that he was a once a day pooper before solids. That isn’t all that often for an exclusively breast fed baby and he’s never been exactly …”prolific” in that department.

A large part of that I believe is due to him being first on zantac and now on Prevacid. Think about it: stomach acid digests food, reflux meds reduce stomache acid = slower digestion. In fact, nearly all the parents on infantreflux.org have their prevacid kids on miralax too.

So you can understand my reluctance to give Jasper rice cereal, the universal but “binding” first baby food.

When I spoke to our amazingly awesome pediatrician Dr. Zatz about it, he told me that his kids ate Quinoa cereal by the barrel full.

I am all too familiar with Quinoa (pronounced Keen wa in case you were wondering!)  thanks to Jasper’s former intolerance to gluten, it was a grain I cooked often. But I hadn’t thought about it for baby cereal.. maybe because it doesn’t come packaged that way!

But really, it’s a fantastic alternative to rice because it has so much more nutritive value, including protein. It even has naturally occurring (and more readily digestable) iron rather than the added iron that rice cereal has.

Here is what Vegetarian Paradise says about Quinoa:

Called a supergrain, quinoa is highly nutritious and can supply us with all of the body’s requirements: carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

The germ of each quinoa grain is larger than that of any other grain and encircles the outer surface, explaining its exceptionally high protein content. “If I had to choose one food to survive on, quinoa would be the best,” said Dr. Duane Johnson, New Crops Agronomist at Colorado State University.

Quinoa is gluten free and considered an ideal food for those prone to food allergies. Common allergens include grains from the grass family such as corn and wheat. Quinoa, a leafy grain, is not in the grass family, making it beneficial for people who cannot tolerate common grains like wheat, corn, rye, barley, and oats.

Nutritional data on quinoa can vary from one variety to another, from one method of saponin removal to another, and from variations in growing conditions. Therefore, the data offers a wide spread in its figures. For instance, its protein content can range from 7.5% to 22.1%. Compared to common wheat at 14%, rye at 12%, and brown rice at 7.5%, quinoa’s figures are impressive.

Most grains are deficient in the amino acid, lysine. Because quinoa has an adequate quantity of lysine, it is considered to contain all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. According to the Alternative Field Crops Manual of the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension, “Quinoa is a highly nutritious food. The nutritional quality of this crop has been compared to that of dried whole milk by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The protein quality and quantity in quinoa seed is often superior to those of more common cereal grains. Quinoa is higher in lysine than wheat, and the amino acid content of quinoa seed is considered well-balanced for human and animal nutrition, similar to that of casein [milk protein].”

Quinoa possesses larger quantities of calcium, fat, iron, phosphorus, and B vitamins than many other grains. One-half cup of cooked quinoa contains 15.5 mg of calcium, compared to 8.5 mg in the same quantity of cooked whole-wheat cereal. The protein content is a whopping 4.1g for that one-half cup of cooked quinoa. Potassium is impressively high with 159 mg. as is zinc with 1 mg. Other impressive figures include 1.38 mg of iron, and 59 mg. magnesium. In the category of fiber quinoa rates top scores with 2.6 grams for one-half cup cooked grain.

Ok, so now that I  have lost peaked your interest, how does one turn this into baby cereal?

Good question!

I did an internet search for Quinoa Baby Cereal Recipe and came up with the entry at Wholesome Baby Food that talks about Quinoa’s Nutrition value and tells you how much water/ powder to use, but they leave off a few key points about preparing Quinoa baby cereal.

So for the benefit of you readers and future generations of internet searchers, I am going to give you my step by step preparation guide to baby Quinoa cereal:

1) Rinse 1/4 cup of Organic Quinoa (available at your local health food store or health food section of supermarket) very well. Do not skip this step otherwise your cereal will be bitter and it will end up all over your face when you try to feed it to your baby!

2) Over low/medium heat dry roast it in a pan until it turns a deeper yellow/golden brown and is just starting to “pop” like popcorn (about 3-5 minutes?)  According to Dr. Zatz this makes the cereal more easy to digest for baby.

3) After it has cooled for a minute or two, put in dedicated coffee or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder.  I guess if you clean your existing coffee grinder really really well you can use that too.. I just make this cereal so often I bought a little grinder just to use for this.  I didn’t want to chance Jasper bouncing off any walls!

You will notice that once roasted and ground, Quninoa smells a lot like peanut butter. Yum.

4) Bring two cups of water to a boil and add in Quinoa powder. Whisk! You don’t want lumps. Turn down heat to lowest setting and let cook uncovered for about 10 minutes. Stir fairly often to avoid lumps. I whisk aggressively about 5 times during that 10 minutes. You can add more water if you think it’s getting too thick, this will depend on what consistency your baby likes.

Thats it! Let cool and combine with your baby’s favorite fruit or veggie and know that you are not only saving your wallet a bit,  but also providing your child superior non binding nutrition!

Edited to add: If your baby is sensitive to texture and you find that you didn’t whisk enough to get rid of all the lumps as a final step you may want to mash it through a strainer with the back of a tablespoon. That should satisfy even the pickiest of eaters and is also probably a good idea if you are trying this as baby’s first food.

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Mommyofdragon says:

If I want to mix it with my BM would I add that at the end for the boiling instead of the water?

ariana says:

Yes, at the end to avoid boiling :)

Allison says:

This is great! I know this is an older post — not sure if you are still checking but had a few questions. You said don’t grind too much because it doesn’t last. I just grinded the amount in the recipe and boiled it — I was going to put it in the refrigerator to use tomorrow. Is that ok?? Please let me know!

Also — just curious if you just used the powder without adding the water — would that kind of be like cereal also?

Thanks!

ariana says:

Oh yes that would be fine! Hmm without water it would be just dry, do you mean mix with something else instead?

Susan says:

I tried this with a mortar and pestle…it worked!! but too much effort. I wanted to first see if LO likes it before getting a coffee bean machine.
thanks for these instructions as I wasnt sure how to proceed after getting the powder finished!

delpre says:

Great idea, thise ideas Work trough the year. My baby she is six month old. Tks good I fin thise recepi.

Vidula says:

Hi,
I’m trying to pop the quinoa as you mentioned but every time it gets brown/black before it can pop. What am I doing wrong?
Thanks!

ariana says:

Try lower heat! Turn it off as soon as you hear the first pop, you don’t want them to pop you want them to just brown/golden.

Keira says:

The recipe looks fantastic! I cannot wait to make it for my daughter. She has gotten sooooooooo constipated eating rice cereal and oatmeal. I was just if the quinoa “powder” can be kept for a day or two in the fridge before boiling it.

ariana says:

Hi Keira, yes definitely – I would say up to 3 days or so would be fine!

Lisa says:

Aloha,

My son is 9 months old and he wants whatever he sees me eating. So I gave him some of my Quinoa and he loved it. Can I keep giving it to him? Or should I grind the seeds and roast?

Thanks :)

Joanna says:

Do you need to let the quinoa dry after you rinse it before you roast it?

ariana says:

Nope, the water will cook off in the pan before it roasts!

Jen K. says:

I’m late to the party, but I was looking for alternatives to rice cereal and saw quinoa at the grocery store recently and I was intrigued by it because of the natural iron. I made the first batch this morning (and then googled a baby food recipe, whoops. Kind of backwards). My daughter seemed to eat the quinoa better than rice cereal! I got a little concerned when I read that it shouldn’t be introduced to baby prior to 8 months (my daughter is almost 7 months), but the comment thread allayed my fears.

Saritha says:

Thanx ariana for this info on how to make quinoa cereal. I give my baby finger millet (not given any other cereal) and tried to prepare Quinoa the same way…but was unsuccessful. But with your method, it turned out just fine. Now, I alternate millet and Quinoa.

Robin says:

Thanks for the recipe! I just bought the huge bag of organic stuff at Costco. I’m ready to roll!

Jane says:

Hi and thanks for so much for this great information. I am giving my little girl quinoa as her first food but have been lucky to find it in flakes at the local health food store. It cooks like an instant cereal so I don’t have to prepare it at all.
Just found this blog while googling quinoa for babies and I love it – thanks!

ariana says:

Hi Jane, thanks!
Happy baby also has a great multigrain instant baby cereal that has organic quinoa in it as well as probiotics. I definitely recommend it for those that don’t want to make it from scratch :)

Angie says:

Do you know if quinoa can be served raw to a baby and/or mixed with breastmilk? I tried giving my 9 month old some cooked quinoa this week. I actually ground it into a powder without doing the dry roasting first (as I had read in a book), then cooked it with water. My son ate it, though somewhat reluctantly. I wondered if it could have been in part due to the fact that all of the other baby cereals he’s had I combined with expressed breastmilk instead of using water.

ariana says:

angie, by raw you mean not dry roasted firsts? I’m sure you can, it’s just easier for them to digest if you dry roast. Water instead of milk could definitely make a difference if that is what he is used to!

Lindsey says:

What a wonderful recipe! Just what I was looking for. Can this be frozen? How long does it keep for in the refridgerator? Thanks so much.

ariana says:

Hi Lindsey, yes it definitely can be frozen. I actually have been halving the recipe lately, but probably should make it all and freeze the other half! I don’t know exactly how long, but I usually make it twice a week, so it lasts just fine 3-4 days. Just make sure you don’t grind a bunch ahead of time, it should be ground right before using because quinoa is actually a seed and not a grain and it’s oils can go rancid if broken down and not refrigerated.

Paige says:

Quinoa is a superfood! I’ve loved it since I was a kid, and introduced my now-husband to it when we first started dating. I’m so glad to see that it’s no longer just one of my mom’s Northern California hippie foods like it was when I was little.
I’m pregnant now, and I’ll definitely use your recipe when my little person starts solids.

Love the blog! = )

Kimberly says:

Hi,
We tried quinoa cereal this morning for the first time… I mixed a bit of pureed blueberries and pears with it, just like I normally do with his oatmeal or rice… and James loved it! (It is yummy… I had some too!) Yay, now I don’t have to buy boxed baby cereal anymore, and I can do everything homemade. Thanks again!
Kimberly

ariana says:

Kimberly, I’m so glad it worked well for you. Thanks for commenting back to let me know!

ariana says:

jbhat, you are too kind ;)

Sarah, I am not a medical dr. so take this with a grain of salt but I don’t see why not. we started with it when Jasper was around 6 months too. I think the reason drs want you to start with cereal is because they need the iron that they fortify the rice cereal with, but Quinoa has naturally occurring iron.

We actually DID start with avacado! I don’t recommend it only because it’s really hard to get it totally smooth if you mash it yourself and I think Jasper rejected it because of lumps. I don’t think there is enough of it to puree unless you did a ton but you would’t want to do that because avacado doesn’t freeze/keep well like other things.

We started with food and skipped cereal altogether until I found out about the iron issue and that’s when I started mixing in cereal with all his food.

What I would do for you is give your son a bit of this cereal mixed with something a little sweet like banana or pears.

Hope that helps!

Sarah says:

I was grateful to find this recipe, and will most definitely try it at some point — but do you know if it can be used as a baby’s first cereal? My son (who’s had nothing but breastmilk at this point) is approaching his six-month birthday and I’m looking for an alternative to rice cereal (I asked my pediatrician about starting with avocado, but she “instructed” me to start with a baby cereal).

Thanks!

lisa says:

Thanks for this post, we’ll be starting solids in a couple months so this information will come in handy!

jbhat says:

You, miss, are SO GOOD at being a mommy. So much research goes into your decision making. It’s lovely to see and read about.

kari says:

adorable as always ariana! great tip on the quinoa!

ariana says:

Kimberly, thanks for the info! I’m sorry about the night feedings, that is a fear of mine.. since he’s NOT eating at night now I worry that the decrease in appetite will mean he’s getting so much less than before at night and now also during the day. I have to keep reminding myself that he’s NOT going to starve himself!

Your welcome Jill :)

Kate, I actually have had quinoa as morning cereal a bunch of times – the full grain, not ground up – and it was delicious! Ground up I’m sure its great that way too, more like cream of wheat than something more textured like grits.

Kate says:

I love quinoa! I feel like such a granola hippie when I eat it but it was featured quite often when I went through my “vegetarian phase,” much to my husband’s chagrin.
I wonder how it would work as a sweet cereal, like with maple or agave syrup?

Jill says:

Wow, that’s such a great idea! So healthy for him too! Thank you!

Kimberly says:

Awesome… thank you for this! I personally love quinoa, but had no idea how to make it for James until he’s ready for some texture. We WILL be trying this, probably this weekend!

My supply I think has pretty much regulated to his needs… I’m still pumping a little ahead of him, since he’s taking WAY less in the bottle during the day at my mom’s, so I always have a little extra to start the next day. (I have NO reserve… we’re on a day-to-day basis.) He’s nursing a bit more frequently at night though, which I think makes up for it. He was nursing 1 or 2 times at night, now it’s 3, sometimes even 4. I’m tired for the first time since having him! And his growth (thankfully) is leveling off… the rate he was going, he would’ve been pushing 25 lbs. by 12 months! So he’s only gained maybe like 12 oz. in the past month, to just about 19 lbs. at 8 months.

This picture of Jasper, by the way, is too much! He is so, so adorable! Really a beautiful baby. :)

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