They say that breads are high in salt, so I thought I could make a better go of it making things myself. A biscuit recipe I made the other day called for a teaspoon of salt, which I realized was 2,325 mg of sodium in the 15 biscuits it yielded – that’s 155mg of sodium per little 1.5 inch biscuit, and babies under one are supposed to have no more than 200mg a day!
Cooking and sharing food with a baby under one has led me to rely heavily on spices as salt-free seasonings. Usually I turn to Indian cooking for this, but there are many more spices and combinations to be found beyond our borders – there’s so much more out there than just meat and potatoes in a broader sense. And “spices” don’t necessarily mean “spicy.” One such spice blend is za’atar. I first came to it in Hong Kong when I was pregnant. We had been eating out 2-3 times a day at fantastic restaurants for three weeks, but at the end of it I was craving something healthy in that crunchy sense. Then we found this super hippy restaurant that served simple flatbreads and, intrigued, I picked one that had za’atar…. then I couldn’t wait to get back home and make flaxseed tortilla shells filled with avocados, tomatoes, hummus and za’atar.
For babies I would add za’atar to homemade bean spreads, tahini, yogurt, eggs, avocados, roasted squashes, and soups. My baby won’t eat veggies plain, but add some flavor with some spices and she’s all over it. You can fry za’atar in oil to deepen the flavor, and then add some more at the end to keep its herbal notes intact. You can even use it for dusting popcorn. Here are some great online recipes to try it out. I’ve bookmarked Ottolenghi’s butternut squash recipe, these olive oil crackers, and I made an adaptation of this sardinian flatbread below. I love these pita shells from Costco because they make great personal sized pizzas or permutations thereof.