Zenia is a nutritionist and sensory food scientist passionate about educating families on how to evoke the senses with flavoursome food during weaning and at family mealtimes. With a MRes in Sensory Science and BSc in Food Science and Nutrition, Zenia hosts educational workshops and develops meal plans for families putting nutrition and flavour at the heart of all her work.
Zenia is passionate about introducing flavour into weaning – big flavours for little tummies! She worked with Tidy Tot for Weaning Week 2021, hosting Tidy Tot’s Sensory Kitchen workshop which gave helpful advice on how to add flavour to baby’s meals with herbs and spices. Her goal is to support parents in helping babies become adventurous little eaters.
Zenia has created a number of flavourful weaning recipes you can download here.
A few things to bear in mind when you start out:
When a child first embarks on their big ‘food journey’ it is one of the most exciting times. It’s a blank canvas and this is your opportunity to paint a wonderful picture – your chance to help your child see the world through flavour. You want to awaken their senses and let them get stuck in, not only by squelching and playing with food to experience different textures but by experimenting with spices and flavour combinations to help them discover different tastes as they go through their marvellous weaning adventure. Things can get messy, and I always advise parents to encourage the mess, it’s part of the sensory experience of weaning. Tidy Tot’s range of clever bibs and wash mitts, are designed to inspire babies to discover and explore their love of food, whilst minimising the clean-up operation afterwards – hurray for that!
Try these helpful tips to make your baby’s meals more flavourful:
- Treat each spice like a new food. Introduce them to your baby slowly and individually. Leave a few days between each one to assess any potential sensitivities (better to be safe)
- Herbs and spices have different characteristics. It is important to begin with ‘baby friendly’ and aromatic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander and cumin. Hotter spices (chilli, black pepper, paprika) which create a sense of heat and trigger pain receptors should be introduced later at around 1 year in small quantities
- Start with a whole herb or spice infusion. This could be subtle tastes from homemade stocks or whole spices added to food and then removed. Next you can use just a pinch of ground herbs or spices. You’d be surprised how a little goes a long way. Think about the quantity of food vs the amount of herb or spice you add – over seasoning could lead to overwhelming the meal