Salmon may well be the definition of a superfood… but only if it’s wild. Farmed fish are crammed into cages, pumped with antibiotics and fed on grain. Even if the salmon is organic, it won’t be swimming hundreds of miles, hurling itself up waterfalls or eating microalgae. Wild salmon is a great ingredient to add into healthy food for babies.
The algae is what gives wild salmon its distinctive red colour and attendant hit of Astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is considered a super antioxidant; it is 10 to 20 times more powerful than beta-carotene, which you will find in carrots, sweet potato and beetroot. Instead of microalgae, farmed salmon are fed synthetic astaxanthin, which is made from petrochemicals.
Along with antioxidants, wild salmon is brimming with omega-3 fatty acids, essential for building a baby’s brain before birth. When it comes to healthy food for babies, it is one of the best. In fact, a study published in The Lancet found that the level of fatty-acid DHA in the baby’s umbilical cord predicted their speed of thinking at age 8.* According to the researchers, significant health benefits were seen in children whose mothers consumed three or more servings of seafood a week.
But don’t despair if nausea in pregnancy put paid to your best intentions around nutrition. Getting seafood into your little one’s diet once they’re born can likewise boost their brain. In a study from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, boys aged eight to 10 who were given fish oil capsules were found to have increased neural activation – while there was decreased activation found in those not taking the supplements.
My son has been enjoying sardines and salmon from five months of age, including this recipe for spring. I wanted to share it with you to show just how easy it can be to prepare healthy food for babies.
Wild Salmon with Bone Broth and Broad Beans
Makes 6 portions
250ml chicken bone broth
2 x wild salmon steaks (available from Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Ocado)
16 broad beans pods
1 small courgette
4 mint leaves
Bring the broth to the boil, then add the salmon steaks. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Leave to cool before removing the skins from the salmon. Purée the salmon steaks with approximately 1/4 cup of the broth. Scoop into six silicone portions and freeze.
Pop the beans out of their pods and roughly chop the courgette. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the broad beans, placing the courgette in a steamer on top. Boil/steam for 5 minutes, or until soft. Blend with the mint leaves. Freeze into ice cubes and serve both purées together.
Tip: If using a blender with a plastic container, allow both mixtures to cool completely before blending to avoid BPA.
Reference: Hibbeln JR, Davis JM, Steer C, Emmett P, Rogers I, Williams C, Golding J (2007), Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopment outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study. The Lancet 369; 578–84.