Around 7 months, I mixed some peanut butter into Zane’s sweet potato puree. When this came up in conversation with friends, eyes averted and the room went a little too quiet for comfort. Eventually another mom said, “I just wouldn’t be comfortable feeding my baby peanuts that early.” I hadn’t worried about the peanut butter based on casual reading and the advice from our pediatrician (which was “You can feed him anything except honey”), but the vibe in the room made me feel like I was playing fast and loose with my baby’s health.
The current stance of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is that there is “no convincing evidence” that delaying exposure to common allergens beyond 6 months reduces risk of reaction. More details are available in this study published in 2008. Also, an AAP study published in 2009 suggested that early introduction and frequent exposure to peanuts may reduce the risk of peanut allergies. Studies aside, though, I understand why parents are apprehensive about when to introduce peanuts to their little one, as the allergic reaction can be extremely scary and require immediate medical attention.
All this to say: If you’re not feeding your little one peanuts yet, or if she or he is allergic, leave them out and it will still be delicious!
We used to get Pad Thai takeout pretty regularly, until I decided to kick the habit by learning to make it at home. I happily learned that it’s pretty simple and quick to make, and in this version I’ve pared it down further to get it close to a “pantry staples” kind of recipe that comes together in less than 30 minutes. (I’ve even left out the bean sprouts, which I love and you can feel free to add; I’m just not likely to have them on hand without planning.) I reduced the oil and cut out the sugar called for in most recipes (and probably in that takeout we were ordering) and boosted the nutrition with added veggies.
Use this recipe as an adaptable template based on what you have on hand and your dietary preferences. Don’t have rice noodles? Use white or brown rice instead. Going grain-free? Make a paleo version by peeling “noodles” of carrot and zucchini. When the weather heats up, bell peppers and squash will probably become part of the meal for us. If you don’t have the condiments for the sauce, I recommend picking them up next time you’re at the store. They will last a long time in the fridge and you will have months of Pad Thai or other Asian-inspired dishes in your future.
Weeknight Pad Thai
7 oz linguine-style rice noodles
2 c carrots, julienned or sliced (about 5 medium carrots)
2 c sugar snap peas
2 scallions, chopped into 1/2-in batons
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp tamarind paste (If you can’t find tamarind, lime juice is an acceptable substitute)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fish sauce
handful of chopped cilantro and handful of chopped peanuts, for garnish
coconut oil, mild olive oil, or neutral oil for cooking
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the rice noodles until just tender, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the tamarind paste, rice vinegar, and fish sauce.
2. Meanwhile, coat a large sauté pan with oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and a pinch of salt and sauté until tender. Add the snap peas and scallions and sauté until the peas are bright green and crisp tender.
3. Move the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the eggs and pinch of salt and scramble until just set. Use tongs or two spoons to move the rice noodles to the sauté pan (it’s okay if some water comes with the noodles), add the tamarind sauce, and stir to combine. If the dish starts to seize up, add more of the noodle soaking liquid to loosen it up. Garnish with cilantro and peanuts.
Serves 4 generously.
When did you/do you plan to give your baby peanuts?