WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Nutritional programs) can be an awesome resource for parents on limited incomes. However, you get a lot of baby cereal. After a lot of research I opted to skip the traditional white rice baby cereal phase of feedings and go straight for single ingredient baby foods and whole wheat cereal. So with lots of parents skipping the cereal phase, many families on the WIC program have found themselves with a surplus of baby cereal.
Here is a little background on the changing attitudes on baby’s first foods. Traditionally many doctors suggested starting babies on white rice cereal between 4 and 6 months of age. However, some doctors are stepping up to point out this may not be the best and most nutritional first food choice. Dr. Alan Greene has been the most vocal on the white rice cereal ban. He has started a campaign called “white out”. “I have been studying nutrition very carefully for more than a decade now and one of the things that I have become convinced of is that white rice cereal can predispose to childhood obesity,” said Greene. “In fact I think it is the tap root of the child obesity epidemic.”
Whether white rice is the “root cause” or not of childhood obesity is up for debate, I do believe that whole grain options such as wheat, barley, or brown rice far outweigh the nutritional content of their white rice counterpart.
So if you want to jump on the white out band wagon, or just simply have a surplus of baby cereal, here are a couple recipes for healthy and tasty snacks for your baby or toddler using that leftover baby cereal.
Pick Your Grains
If you want more nutritional bang per serving opt for a whole wheat, multigrain, or brown rice cereal. “The difference between white rice and brown rice is huge. White rice is basically 94 percent starch. Brown rice though is 25 percent other stuff: protein, essential fats, and minerals, all kinds of good stuff,” says Dr. Greene.
- 2 tablespoons shortening
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1-1/2 cups baby cereal
Heat oven to 300 F. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, baking soda, salt, vanilla and water. Mix until well blended. Gradually stir in cereal. Knead until smooth. Pat into rectangle. Cut into 12 1-inch bars, and smooth edges so they will not be sharp. Place on ungreased sheet. Bake 20 to 30 min or until dry. Store in uncovered container overnight.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup baby barley cereal
- 1 cup formula (or milk)
- ½ cup mashed banana (or fruit of your choice)
- 1 tbsp melted butter (unsalted)
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup baby oatmeal
- ½ cup apple juice or use water if you prefer
Simply mix ingredients and cook on skillet until lightly browned on each side. You can serve topped with fruit or sprinkled with a little cinnamon or nutmeg.
Baby Oatmeal Cookies
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 2 ½ cups baby oatmeal cereal
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup applesauce
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix eggs, sugars, applesauce and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Bake at 350 degrees about 15 minutes.
If you don’t want to use these recipes, there are a multitude of ways to use the cereal. You can:
- Use it in place of breadcrumbs in meatloaf or meatball recipes
- Use it to thicken soups
- Use it in any recipe replace half the flour with baby cereal
- Use it in the bathtub to create a soothing oatmeal bath
If you still have too much cereal consider donating it to your local food pantry.
Baby cereal can be a nutritious and yummy treat when used correctly. What recipe are you going to try first?