I know way too much about rice! And none of it is very interesting!
I’ve questioned whether I should include this post because initially I didn’t think anyone else would benefit from it and it has the potential to be very boring! But actually, for people who have issues with wheat, corn or other grains, plus those with fructose malabsorption or those on a few foods diet (which includes rice) it could be quite beneficial, so here goes…
Our youngest could only eat white rice, meat and eggs in addition to her soya formula for around 18 months after we attempted (dismally) to wean her. Initially we gave her meal after meal of baby rice or plain boiled rice but unsurprisingly she got pretty bored and she also wasn’t developing the swallowing or motor skills needed for eating. So the question is, how to you provide variety on a few foods diet?
I recently read a link to a fantastic post about this topic. I’d highly recommend it if you have a child on an elemental or few foods diet so pop over here for a look. I wish I’d seen it when we were in the thick of it.
One thing you learn when your child can only eat a handful of foods is how much can actually be done to that particular food. I’m going to demonstrate using rice, but even if rice isn’t an option in your situation, the take home message from this post is the same – with some creativity and research you can still provide variety regardless of how few food choices you have.
‘Porridge’ or cereal made up with a safe milk. Our youngest also enjoyed eating the cereal dry. She would ‘drink’ it out of a cup or spread it all over the room (and attempt to eat it) with a spoon. The cereal is just rice but the baby rice includes a few additional trace ingredients so be cautious if necessary.
Good old rice cakes! All the baby ones are coated in fruits but the adult ones work just as well. I used to worry about the salt content but if you work it out per rice cake it’s a miniscule amount.
Sticky rice which you can turn into ‘rice balls’ was a revelation for us, thanks to a good Japanese friend! You can buy it in small boxes to try it out but we then moved on to the 4.54 kg Nishiki bags, which we bought at Tesco. As the picture taken from justbento.com shows that you can make them plain or add to them. Tuna is a favourite in our house. You can also wrap them in dried seaweed sheets which is called nori. I like rice balls as they are a great packed lunch food, as long as you keep them cool with a small icepack next to the lunch box, and I add extras such as pickled ginger and cucumber to mine which tastes fresh and healthy plus we’re all eating the same thing for once. As you can tell, I’m quite evangelical about this one!
Initially we were stuck with rice, meat and meat juices but this gradually increased to incorporate a few spices and fish. With plain old rice we make our girls:
- Chicken curry on rice – I make the sauce using chicken juices (which I freeze in an ice cube tray every time I roast a chicken) and a sprinkling of cumin.
- Kedgeree – a lovely subtle dish incorporating rice, smoked fish, sliced boiled egg and a few spices such as cumin, cardamon, tumeric (careful it stains yellow!) and cinnamon. The authentic recipe usually includes the likes of onion but they are easily omitted.
Rice noodles were another revelation. The Thai Taste ones are made from only rice and water. The Mama ones include tapioca starch but are softer and quicker to prepare. They are both gluten free.
With these fabulous rice noodles we make:
- ‘Chinese stir fry’ – chicken, pork or beef strips fried and served on top of the noodles with a ‘sauce’ made of meat juices. Latterly we added seaweed nori or a drop of fish sauce for flavour.
- Creamy chicken noodle soup made up with a little ‘safe’ milk and a dash of salt and pepper.
- Meatballs and ‘spagetti’ using homemade meatballs which are just lean mince squashed into balls and fried in a tiny bit of oil.
Once egg and a safe oil were on the menu my husband became a wizz at making:
- ‘popcorn’ chicken
- pork goujons
- fish fingers
He achieved this by crushing up Kallo Puffed Rice Cereal (see breakfast options) and using beaten egg to coat the raw meat/fish in the crunchy dust. He would then fry them off and they were so scrummy that the girls usually got to eat less than intended! I’ve seen egg-free options online too using just flour (you could use rice flour), oil, milk or milk substitute and breadcrumbs (crushed rice cereal).
Just look at all those dinner options, using just rice, meat/fish, a few spices and egg on occasion!
Once we’d found Doves Farm Rice Flour and with the addition of egg things got really exciting! You probably think I’m joking but enabling our girls to participate in pancake day on their few foods diets was an absolute triumph. Here’s a photo of our eldest looking as pleased as punch!
The recipe was another taken from Free Eats and you can read it here. We simplified the batter to match our girls diets so it included the following:
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup safe milk (soya formula for our youngest and oat milk for our eldest)
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
Our baking has increased lately as both our girls are tolerating xanthan gum and small amounts of sugar. We’ve even made bread successfully in the breadmaker which I will write about in another post.
(As a side note, I purposefully haven’t included Rice Milk in this post even though it’s available in most supermarkets. This is because it contains naturally occurring arsenic and shouldn’t be used as a main milk source for children under 5.)
I hope I’ve shown you that even on a few foods diet your child can have lots of variety and food can still be creative and fun. It takes time but every success feels like a massive achievement. Also, with the passing of time even a small addition to the list, such as xanthan gum, can make a huge difference to choices. So please don’t get too disheartened and get down to the supermarket, on your own, to work out what’s potentially possible. As usual, I’d love to hear about your own experiences, not just with rice but with few food diets in general so please comment below and pop back soon or ‘follow’.