The concept for the mediterranean diet for babies is simple; introduce a variety of foods from an early age mainly consisting of heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, yogurt and cheese, seasonal fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, and homemade vegetable broth.
When I began introducing solids to my son about 4 years ago I adamantly followed every recommendation in the book, adhering to all the strict rules of the North American approach. It took a family visit to Italy to make me realize that there were, in fact, other methods to introducing solids, such as the Mediterranean one. At the 6-month mark I visited a paediatrician who gave me a detailed daily meal plan for my son. (For a detailed menu plan click HERE). This approach worked so well that I followed the same approach when the time came to introduce solids to my daughter two years later.
Here are 5 ways to introduce the Mediterranean diet to baby;
Classic Vegetable Broth
Simple vegetable or chicken broth is the quintessential food to introduce to baby. It can be eaten on its own or served with rice cereal or small pasta. Boiled veggies are healthy and also aid in digestion which make them ideal for babies who suffer from constipation. Top with a drizzle of good quality of extra virgin olive and grated Parmesan cheese.
1) Full-fat cheeses
Offering soft cheeses, such as Laughing Cow and ricotta is a tasty way to add more calcium into baby’s diet. Aged cheeses, such as grated Parmesan add flavour to baby’s meals without the additional sodium.
2) Full-fat plain yogurt
Plain yogurt doesn’t contain the added sugar that fruit-based yogurts contain. Add flavour by mixing yogurt with fresh fruit or crumbled baby-friendly cookies for added texture.
3) Incorporate olive oil
Add about 1/2 tsp. per cup of cooked veggies. It is imperative that you use a good quality oil-look for a dark green hue and always choose extra virgin. Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats and aids in digestion, especially if served raw, drizzled over veggies, meats, pastas or soups.
4) Herbs and spices
Pack more flavour into baby’s meals and offer variety by using fresh or dried herbs and spices rather than additional salt for flavour. Start with dried herbs (which tend to be less potent) then move on to fresh ones once baby has acquired a taste for them.
5) Seasonal fruits and vegetables
Seasonal fruits and veggies are fresher, more flavourful and contain less pesticides than non-seasonal fruit. Serve pureed or grated (apples, peaches, etc.) and mix with different spices to enhance flavour.