Friday, May 18, 2012

Honey and Infants (+ healthy salads for new parents!)

My niece and her husband just had their second child (a boy!) and I've been making some healthy meals to keep them well fed while they settle in with their new one.  Preparing food for the newly expanded family and an email exchange with our friend Jarrett (also a new papa and a big honey fan!) made me look more closely into the reasons that infants should not be fed honey.  My niece is breastfeeding and I wanted to be sure that  any honey I used in the meals I'm making wouldn't cause any trouble.  So, first things first: I'm not a doctor and I'm not dispensing medical advice here, but this WebMD page suggests that if eaten in "food amounts," then honey is fine for a breastfeeding mom to eat.

Why shouldn't infants (under 1 year old) have honey?  An in-depth 2002 article from American Family Physician offers a wonderful overview of this issue, which is worth a read if you're a new (or old!) parent  with questions.  The reason that raw unpateurized honey should not be fed to infants under 1 year old is that it may contain botulism spores that a baby's young intestines are not yet equipped to combat.  The American Family Physician article also includes this surprising information:  though infant botulism is rare worldwide, most diagnosed cases are in the U.S.  The article attributes this to more awareness in the US (not that there are more spores in the US).

Looking for less in-depth but reliable info about infant botulism and honey?  Here are two great sources:   the Mayo Clinic website and the U.S. National Library of Medicine's Pub-Med Health webpage.   If you want to do your own searching for more information about this, try "infant botulism and honey" as search terms.

Two Healthy Salads for New Parents (both with lovely lime dressing!)

Quinoa, Red Pepper & Black Bean Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed that growing in popularity primarily because it's a great source of protein and easy to make.  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations compares the nutritional quality of quinoa to dried whole milk.  You can find it now in many grocery stores near the rice section.  Most of the quinoa we get in the US is grown in Bolivia.  As with just about every food option, the popularity of quinoa has advantages and disadvantages.  Want to read more?  Check out "The Paradoxes of Quinoa" from the Alpha Galileo Foundation.)

1 cup quinoa
2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can, drained)
1 red bell pepper, diced in 1/4- inch dice
2 scallions, sliced in 1/8-inch circles (include some of the green part)
1-2 tablespoons honey
juice of one lime
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place quinoa in sauce pan with 2 cups water, cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about 20 or until all the water is absorbed.  Cool.  Place cooled quinoa in a large bowl.  Add the peppers, beans and scallions.  In a small jar, combine the honey, lime juice, vinegar and vegetable oil and shake to emulsify.  Pour over salad and mix well.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This delicious corn salad comes from Jarrett who claims they're making it at least twice a week!

Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing
2 ears fresh sweet corn, grilled and scraped from cob (remove husks and grill over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning--the corn should have some brown spots on it and be tender, but not mushy)
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 avocado, diced in
2 ears fresh corn
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
Gently toss all of the above in a bowl

Honey Lime Dressing
juice of one lime
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cayenne (optional--I'd leave this out if making for a new breastfeeding mom)
Place dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously to combine.  Pour over salad and gently toss.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes so flavors meld and deepen.  Enjoy (and thanks, Jarrett!)

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