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Posts tagged ‘spices’

SuperSpice of the Month: Mustard Seeds

I am very passionate about spices, or rather ‘SuperSpices’ as they are also referred to as, and I don’t think parents are aware of just how beneficial they can be. So in my campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of spices I have created my ‘SuperSpice of the Month’.

Each month I will highlight a key spice and will include some quick-fire bullets about why it is my ‘SuperSpice of the Month’. I hope you will find it useful and perhaps even encourage you to include more spices in your little one’s diet.

SSM_mustard seeds

Quick-fire benefits:

Increases metabolism
With rising levels of obesity amongst children in the UK and US, consuming a spice that helps the body to burn calories more efficiently should be a welcome addition to any child or families meals.

Contains the mineral selenium
An anti-cancer mineral also found in chicken

A natural aid for treating asthma
In the UK over 1.1 million children suffer from this condition. Consuming mustard seeds may help to reduce the severity of this in children.


If you want to take a crack at including mustard seeds in your child’s meals but have no idea where to start, try my Super Quick Bombay Potatoes (V) recipe. It’s a fab healthy, tasty finger food snack suitable for 1-3 year olds (and older).


References – The Health Benefits of Mustard Seeds

NHS Choices – Asthma in Chidren

The World’s Healthiest Foods: Mustard Seeds

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Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Zainab Jagot Ahmed (available to buy now from,, iTunes, Kobo, Waterstones and WHSmith).


Top 5 Spices to Combat Teething Pains – Part 1


Being a mother I totally understand how difficult it is when your little one starts teething. It can be very distressing to see your little one in so much pain! I remember feeling completely helpless and wished that I could take the pain away, not to mention the sleepless nights that follow… (I was on autopilot for the next year!)

So the very next day I went on a BIG TEETHING SHOPPING SPREE!

  • Teething toys
  • Teething gels
  • Teething granules
  • Children’s medicines

You name it, I tried it… anything to provide some sort of comfort or pain relief for my little one.

Although I used all of these methods (not all at the same time!) usually a combination of them i.e. teething toy and teething gel, I still wanted to do more. So I turned my attention to spices.

Being from Indian origin meant that I already cooked with spices, but spices can be used for more than adding flavour to meals, they have also been used for their medicinal properties for generations, and many of them have been proven to contain natural analgesic properties to help combat pain.

After a period of months researching aromatic spices and their natural health benefits, I began to understand which spices would be of most benefit to my little one, and began including various combinations within my little one’s meals in the hope that they would provide an extra little boost of pain relief (in addition to the traditional methods I had spent a fortune on). Every little helps right?!



1. Cloves – dried flower buds of a tropical tree. They contain the compound ‘eugenol’, a powerful oil widely used within dentistry for natural oral pain relief. It is also used to add flavour to sweet and savoury cuisines worldwide.

2. Nutmeg – another spice which contains the oil eugenol. It offers a warm and spicy taste to meals and  compliments both sweet and savoury dishes.

Cardamom pods
3. Cardamom – a flavourful spice commonly used within Indian cookery. Its analgesic properties can help to reduce pain in teeth and gums. It is also believed to cleanse the mouth for good oral hygiene.


4. Cinnamon– A warm, fragrant spice with a hint of sweetness. Great for cooking with, baking with or sprinkling onto fruit – apples and bananas. Contains a natural analgesic property to soothe pains.

Black Peppercorns
5. Black Pepper
– a common seasoning found in virtually every household. It too contains analgesic properties to help relieve pain in teeth and gums, and is believed to promote strong teeth.

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A comprehensive list of resources, references and links to support the above statements can be found within Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook.
Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook is available to buy now for your smartphone, tablet or desktop from, iTunes/ iBooks,, and other online retailers. Prices vary.

Also available to buy from


Important: None of the above spices should be applied directly to soft oral tissue; they should all be used within cooking. Spices are suitable for babies from 7 months onwards.


Ahmed, ZJ. 2012. Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook. London: Autharium

Baby Photo Credit: Mommy Page

Mum’s Chicken Karahi


My mum’s chicken karahi is a favourite meal of mine. My mouth waters at the mere thought of eating it, yummy! So, needless to say it had to make an appearance on my blog!

– SuperFoods included: onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes

– SuperSpices included: turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika,

Contains the powerful antioxidant lycopene (found in tomatoes) which helps to prevent cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Tomatoes are too rich in vitamin C, along with onions, helping to build strong immune systems. The SuperSpices are anti-inflammatory helping to keep infections and allergies at bay; and the chicken provides the protein necessary for healthy growth and development and the anti-cancer mineral selenium.

Total preparation and cooking time: 40mins
Serves family of 4
Suitable for freezing

75ml (3fl oz) vegetable oil
1 onion – peeled, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1½ tsp minced ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground paprika
300g (11oz) tinned chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 chicken breast fillets (skinless) – cubed
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder to taste
Fresh coriander/ cilantro for garnish– washed

Heat the oil in a pot, add the onions and stir-fry for 5mins until soft and golden. Add the garlic, ginger and stir-fry for 30secs-1min, followed by the turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika and stir-fry for a further minute.

Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, stir and simmer (uncovered) on low heat for 10mins until all of the water from the tomatoes has burnt away and the sauce is thick.

Pop in the chicken and simmer (covered) on low heat for 15-20mins until the chicken is tender.

Once cooked, remove a serving for your little one and set aside.

Add salt and red chilli powder to the main pot and stir. Return to the heat for a further 1-2mins to lightly cook the chilli if you wish.

Garnish the main serving (and your little one’s) with fresh coriander/ cilantro and serve with rice or roti.

Recipe from Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook

Image and recipe © Zainab Jagot Ahmed and Zainab Jagot Ahmed Indian Baby Food. 2012.

Delightful smelling food = nutrient-rich diet for baby

When I first began feeding my daughter spicy, aromatic Indian baby food from the age of 7 months, I remember thinking “wow! This smells amazing, I wouldn’t mind a sneaky mouthful of that myself,” as I prepared her meal in the kitchen… so I did! As I spooned in a mouthful, there was a hint of taste (hint according to my chilli abused taste buds) and the scrummy flavours dispersed through my senses. I passed this flavoursome baby food over to my daughter and she wolfed it down in record time!

I’ve never been one to pay much attention to science or biology, but this interested me. Although there was no salt, sugar or chilli in the baby food, the aroma released from the spices and herbs in the food aroused my senses making me want to eat it. Even my husband has come home from work and commented “something smells good… what’s for dinner?” to which I answered “it’s Aaliyah’s (my daughter’s) food.

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Spices in Baby Food: The Benefits

Using spices in baby food seems to be a relatively new subject at the moment, and most people are reluctant to introduce spices into their little one’s diet due to the lack of ‘official’ advice available through health care services.

Don’t let this deter you however. If spices are not included within the ‘official’ advice, this does not imply you cannot use them within baby food. It is important to remember that these are only recommendations and guidelines. There are no solid procedures you must follow as a parent. So go ahead and throw out the rulebook!

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Chicken Pilaf with Vegetables



Chicken Pilaf with VeggiesPilaf or Pulao, a traditional rice dish cooked with either vegetables, meat or both in one pot.

– SuperFoods included: olive oil, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, lemon, yogurt, cauliflower, peas
– SuperSpices included: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin

Protein-rich, starchy food for energy, rich in B vitamins niacin and vitamin B6, both required to convert food into energy. Contains selenium, a mineralbelieved to be anti-cancer and regulates the hormones released by the thyroid gland, essential for weight control.

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