Pasta pomodoro and other amazing recipes for your baby

Candice Lopez-quimpo

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Pasta pomodoro and other amazing recipes for your baby
Make them tasty for your baby!
BABY STEPS. Here are some recipes for your baby's first meals. Photo from Instagram/@girlcook

MANILA, Philippines – Chef and first time mommy, Namee Joralan-Sunico, had been looking forward to introducing solid food to her baby Juliana. After all, Namee grew up with food and cooking.

She relates, “I grew up at our restaurant which my grandmother started, that my mom is running now. We lived on the 2nd floor. I woke up to the smell of food and the voice of my grand mother commandeering the kitchen. My playtime was mostly spent in the kitchen counting vegetables or watching our butcher portion meat or playing cashier at an actual cash register or just falling into the fishpond downstairs, but basically food and cooking is in my blood.”


Namee is a third-generation cook of the family that runs Everybody’s Café in Pampanga. After college, she decided to make a profession out of cooking, studying the culinary arts in Chicago. She has worked, since, in various kitchens in Chicago, New York and California.

“I’ve been cooking for sometime now,” Namee muses. “I probably only stopped when Juliana came.”

That’s not entirely true.

As Juliana celebrated her milestones, Namee’s social media feed began featuring some delectable looking creations.

Conquering the baby food frontier

When Namee started having problems breastfeeding and eventually had to give it up, she promised Juliana that shed “make it up with her solids. I wanted to make it fun and delicious for both of us.”

Some time ago, Namee taught cooking classes for kids at Enderun Extension a few years back. The experience stuck with her. 

“I had to reintroduce vegetables to them!” she recalls. “I realized that if I can show them how exciting vegetables are, they would eat it. One of my most vivid memories was teaching them how to make Broccoli and Cheese soup. But instead, I called it Broccoli Cappuccino. Since kids cannot take coffee, the thought of having cappuccino excited them. We made soup of Broccoli with milk and cheese and I helped them puree it in the blender. I poured it into coffee cups and had then take it from there, and they started making adult like comments to each other. ‘This cappuccino is really good.’ a 7 year old boy said! Another young boy said, ‘Yeah! I actually like it… and I don’t eat vegetables!’ Then another girl said, ‘My mom is a vegetarian, I can make this for her!’”

The feedback reinforced Namee’s outlook that food, vegetables included, can be fun and exciting. With this in mind, her baby menu took shape. 

An adventurous array of food images slowly started coming out and read out like a gourmet menu: Oatmeal Mush with Thyme Roasted Chicken, Over Quinoa and Broc Sprouts Over Mashed Pumpkin Over Spinach Purée, Pasta Pomodoro with Broc’n’Cheese.



Mommy is surely having fun, and baby has all the goodness to enjoy. It seems to be paying off too. “Luckily, Juliana eats almost anything! Ampalaya and liver included!” announces Namee happily.

Tips for easier (and yummier) baby food prep

1. Prepare staples ahead of time

Namee chooses to be energy efficient and cooks in batches for a week’s worth of baby food.

“I prepare about 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup of rice porridge and 1 cup of pasta for Juliana for the week. It’s usually enough since I get spoonfuls of it for every meal then I just add her meat and or vegetables. I also have a cup of cold chicken or beef stock in the refrigerator, basic pesto, and basic tomato sauce. Then I mix and match depending on what I feel like eating too!”

The food usually keeps well in the fridge, and only the stock needs to be frozen to last the week.

2. Think assembly, not mixture. 

Namee applies her experience as a line cook in the US when preparing Juliana’s food. 

I almost never mix anything when cooking. “I do ‘mise en place’ for her food,” referring to a technique chefs learn early on in culinary school. It means having all ingredients prepped and ready to go before cooking starts.

“I roast all the starchy vegetables like pumpkin and tomatoes. I blanch her green leafy vegetables and shock them then puree them. I make chicken stock and basic sauces and store them all separately.”

For example, instead of cooking a pot of arroz caldo, Namee would put together ingredients she has on hand and in stock: start with plain porridge, add chicken stock and ginger and flaked roasted chicken.

“With the same prepared items of porridge, chicken and stock, I just add some mashed sayote and it becomes Chicken Tinola,” shares the mommy chef.

3. Be family food efficient

A bit of creativity and some effort stretches the family food budget. It’s a smart approach instead of, say, having a separate menu for baby and for the rest of the family.

As Namee confesses, “When I look at the food, I decided I didn’t want to give her food that I will not and cannot eat myself. I also had to be cost efficient. So I make sure that whatever I feed here is good for me too. For instance, I’ll make a batch of oatmeal. I’ll buzz (puree) hers and leave mine as it is. I would put baby milk in hers then I’ll put cow’s milk in mine. I’ll mash bananas and put some in hers too, then I’ll slice the rest into my bowl.”

Needless to say, Namee and husband Justin’s own meal plans were shifting as Juliana’s food repertoire grew. Juliana’s vegetable mainstays, carrots, squash, and kamote, soon became family staples too.

4. Bank on flavor, but skip the sugar and salt

Babies’ tummies are delicate, and health experts advise against giving them salt and sugar early on. For an early foray into flavor adventures, introduce them to spices instead.

Baby Juliana’s pantry consists of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ground black pepper, and coriander. Herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil are often kept handy as well.

Namee introduces one spice at a time, watching out for allergies, as one would with any new ingredient. 

5. Involve your baby in the food process

The dinner table need not be a battlefield. Modeling a good perspective and attitude towards food goes a long way in teaching your baby how to regard it. 

“I usually involve Juliana even if it means just holding a piece of carrot for me,” shares Namee. “I just wash it and clean it so it should be ok if she decides to chew on it. (It also makes a very good teether!) When we’re in the kitchen, I make her play with my measuring cups and spoons.”

If you’re game, put on a show. Juilana is privy to her own private cooking show when mom pretends to be Rachel Khoo, keeping the babe happily entertained as she waits for her bowl of mush in her high chair.

6. Safety first

Use all your senses. If it smells bad, dispose. If it doesn’t look or taste right, then don’t give it to your baby.

Always check with your baby’s pedia on what your baby can and cannot eat, what safety rules to observe, and how to watch out for allergies.

Juliana’s baby food: Recipes to try

As shared by Namee Joralan-Sunico

Kale Oatmeal ‘Risotto’

Makes about 2-4 servings.


  • 1/2 cup of old fashioned rolled oats (not the quick cooking type) 
  • 1/4 cup Kale (sliced finely, chiffonade)
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter or olive oil (for this I prefer butter) *optional
  • 1 teaspoon grated parmesan cheese (plus some for topping)
  • A tiny dash of black pepper

Cook oats according to package instructions. Old-fashioned oats usually cook for about 15 minutes in medium heat. When it’s almost cooked (about 12 minutes), add the finely cut kale and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes more. Stir in butter or olive oil. Season with a tiny dash of black pepper. Prepare a small mound in a bowl and top it with a pinch of grated Parmesan cheese. Serve warm

Best kept refrigerated. Warm it up with about 1 tablespoon of boiled water before serving.

Baby Avocado and Yogurt Parfait

Makes 4 jars.


  • 6 pieces of graham crackers, crushed
  • 1 fresh avocado, mashed or pured (If the avocado has a lot of fiber, I pass it through a fine mesh sieve strainer to get the fiber out.)
  • 1 small tub of all natural yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of melted unsalted butter, *optional
  • A dash of cinnamon (optional)

Mix melted butter with crushed graham. Place about 1/2 tablespoon of graham ‘crust’ at the bottom of the baby food jar (about 2-3oz jars). Fill 3-4 baby food jars with 1 tablespoon of mashed fresh avocado (swirl in a little yogurt to keep it from oxidizing).Top each jar with 1 tablespoon of yogurt. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon. Serve chilled. You may freeze them and defrost about 30 minutes before serving or keep them in the refrigerator for consumption within 2 days.  

Coquillettes with Baby Rigatoni 

Coquillettes are tiny macaroni shaped pasta. Option: any small sized pasta that you think will be safe for your baby. Makes about 2-3 meals.

  • 1 cup of Coquilettes (cook according to package instructions)
  • 1/2 cup finely ground lean beef (I use sirloin)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or unsalted butter (I use butter for this.)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated carrots (about 1 medium sized local carrot)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated onion (about 1/4 of a medium sized onion)

TIP: *I use a box grater for the vegetables so I won’t have to worry about making sure they are diced small enough

  • 1 cup finely diced tomatoes (seeded
  • 1 teaspoon finely sliced (chiffonade) basil, about 2 leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely sliced (chiffonade) parsley, about 3 leaves
  • a small dash of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated mozzarella
  • a pinch of broccoli sprouts *optional

Cook pasta according to package instructions then allow to cool. Place a pan on medium heat. Melt the butter and brown ground beef. Add the onions and carrots and cook just until they are soft. Add the tomatoes and allow to simmer. Add basil and parsley. Season with black pepper. Add the cook cooled pasta, this makes sure that the dish will not be too hot for baby. Top with Mozzarella and broccoli sprouts. Serve warm. –

Babies can be picky, especially when it comes to food. A balance of taste and nutrition is needed to ensure your little ones gain the required nutrients to grow. Save up on baby food and have tasty, home-made meals for your kids with exclusive discounts on kids’ nutrition here.

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