Drumstick or Moringa leaves are known for their health benefits. Find out how to introduce moringa for babies, along with recipes to try.
No idli or dosa combo is complete without sambar, and no sambar is complete without drumsticks!! Drumsticks, also known as ‘murungai’ are one of those vegetables that give sambar its personality, and take its nutritional quotient to another level. Murungai means ‘twisted pod’ in Tamil, probably due to its long, twisted shape full of seeds inside.
Moringa (Moringa oleifera) is a vegetable that grows quickly and without difficulty and retains most of its nutrients in its leaves. Moringa is being recognized as a superfood the world over, because of the dense concentration of various nutrients (over 90 nutrients) in just a small quantity. Due to this, Moringa is considered one of the best ways to fight malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency in several parts of Africa.
Murungai or Moringa is grown in many homes across India, and it has an important place in traditional medicine. All parts of the plant are used, including flowers, fruit, roots, bark, seeds and leaves. But today, we’re going to be talking about the moringa leaves for babies – when they can have it, how they can have it and its nutritional benefits.
Nutritional Benefits of Moringa Leaves
- Fights inflammation and has immunity boosting benefits
- Rich in dietary fiber; prevents constipation and promotes regular bowel movements
- Excellent source of iron, containing 11% of the RDA
- Rich in amino acids, an essential protein component that plays a crucial role in growth
- Is good for the eyes with a high Vitamin A content – about 9% of the RDA
- Plays a role in healthy skin and hair; is also applied externally for skin health
- Rich in antioxidants that fights free radical damage and may even stop cancer
- Contains elements that help lower blood pressure and stabilize blood sugar levels
- Acts as a detoxifying agent, particularly for the liver and kidney
- Contains anti inflammatory properties that fights infection and aids recovery and healing
- Is a great lactose-free option for calcium
- Can protect against toxic elements in food and water
To put the exact concentration of nutrients in perspective, here is a comparison of Moringa with other foods – it contains:
- Seven times more vitamin C than from oranges
- Twice the protein and Four times the calcium in milk
- Four times more vitamin A than from carrots
- Three times more potassium than from bananas
How to Introduce Moringa for Babies
Moringa leaves have immense health benefits for babies but are difficult to digest if given directly. The slightly bitter taste may also put them off.
Due to this, it’s recommended to start with a strained soup of moringa leaves after 6 months. Please follow the 3-day rule to make sure your baby has no trouble digesting it. Once you are sure your baby has no trouble with moringa leaves soup, you can introduce moringa powder in your baby’s diet. Go slow and increase the quantities very gradually or it could be an overload on baby’s gentle digestive system.
Moringa powder is made after the moringa leaves are washed, dried, dry roasted and ground. In most western countries, powder and capsules are the only way to get the nutrients of moringa. Moringa powder is considered to be much more nutritious than fresh leaves since it has a more dense concentration of nutrients; in fact it enjoys the status of a superfood in many nations. For babies over six months, moringa powder can be added breast milk or formula.
After your baby’s first birthday, you can introduce moringa leaves slowly. Start with leaves that are very tender, since they are easier to digest. If you can’t find tender leaves, be sure to pressure cook or steam the leaves till very well cooked, since the leaves take a while to become soft. Even then you may have to grind them to a puree.
When sourcing moringa leaves or powder for your baby, be very careful to get them from organic sources. Moringa leaves can get easily contaminated with genetically modified organisms or pesticides, so a reliable source cannot be compromised on. Wash the leaves several times to get rid of any soil or dirt. Use only the leaves of the plant; the roots contain toxic substances and are not recommended for consumption.
Moringa Recipes for Babies
1. Moringa Leaves Soup – This is the easiest way to introduce moringa leaves in your baby’s diet. GK Food Diary has a simple recipe that you can customize by reducing the spices if you like. You can also use this soup as stock when cooking for older children.
3. Minty Moringa Pea Soup – This soup from Aduna is slightly heavier than the basic moringa leaves soup but is quite hearty for the winters. You can skip chickpeas if your baby has trouble digesting it. Use homemade vegetable stock to keep it healthy and wholesome.
4. Moringa Rice Porridge – This porridge from Aduna makes a wholesome meal for older babies – just skip the garnishing ingredients. The garlic and pepper add lots of healing benefits from spices and the coconut cream adds the requisite creaminess and makes it lactose free.
5. Green Smoothie: Make your regular green smoothie healthier by blending together yogurt, soaked/cooked oats, ginger, flaxseed, moringa powder and frozen kiwi fruit slices.
6. Moringa Banana Smoothie – This is an excellent lactose-free smoothie recipe from A Healthy Leaf that even babies can try. Start with 1/2 tsp of moringa powder before taking it up.
For older kids, you can cook moringa leaves with scrambled eggs or pasta. They can also be added to dal or sambar. You can also add moringa powder to idli/dosa batter or into paratha dough. You can also steep it with your regular green tea. Even if it’s just a spoon of powder, you can instantly take up the nutritional level of the dish by several counts.
You can get organic Moringa powder here.