So I was talking to a mother the other day and she mentioned that her 1 year old daughter had tested positive for anemia (actually at a severe level) while at a routine check up. Â We haven’t signed HIPAA forms here at Cuizoo, so I can’t name names, but suffice it to say that she was freaked out and a little dumbfounded by the diagnosis. And as with many childhood medical situations, the pediatrician was rather matter of fact about it and forgot that MOTHERS FREAK THE F**K OUT when told something like this. Â She was sent off with some rushed instructions about supplements and a two second statement about feeding the child dark leafy greens.
It instantly reminded me of when my daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies. Â The pediatrician gave us the test results, told me they were life threatening, and sent us on our way with an Epi-Pen prescription. And I was like, I’M FREAKING THE F**K OUT here and you are already next door checking on Timmy’s whooping cough.
At that point, I had very few friends who had kids (and no one with experience with food allergies) so I was pretty much on my own trying to figure out what to feed a child who couldn’t consume dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, or nuts. Â Unfortunately (or fortunately), I became a specialist when it came to limited or special diets for children — which has been a good thing because I get questions from people needing advice on a daily basis.
When the unnamed person told me about the anemia, I started searching for iron-rich foods that wouldn’t require the child to chew on meat and bones all day long. Â I told her that I would come up with a reasonably healthy, toddler-friendly snack that would be super rich in iron. Â I decided to go the pumpkin and white bean route because they are great sources of iron — and what I ended up with is a great kid’s treat (that adults will probably enjoy too). Â It is a very cakey and tender cookie and it definitely passed my kids’ taste test. Â It could actually almost be a breakfast bar on the go if you skip the white chocolate (or don’t . . . your choice).
And if your family is not eating as much meat as you used to, it’s also good to remember iron levels for non-anemic children (and adults). Â Legumes and dark leafy greens are great sources — and actually it seems like you can’t go wrong integrating them both into your diet for many reasons. Â I ran this recipe through a nutritional analysis and it came back pretty strong with each cookie having 120 calories, 4 grams of fat (could easily cut back on that further by using applesauce), 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 4% of your daily Calcium, 20% of your daily Vitamin A, and 10% of your daily Iron.
And it seems to me that getting a one year old to eat one of these is going to be a hell of a lot easier than a bowl full of spinach.
Pumpkin White Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)
1/2 cup of butter, softened (1 stick, could replace at least half with applesauce if watching fat)
1/2 cup of honey*
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 cup of white bean puree (approximately one 15 ounce can pureed with 1/8 cup of water)
2 t vanilla extract
1 cup of old fashioned oats
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds (finely chopped if giving to small children or toddlers)
1/2 cup of small white chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup of raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit (Optional. Â But once again, finely chopped if giving to small children or toddlers)
1. Â Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Â Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Â Cream softened butter and honey together until light and fluffy. Â Add in egg and mix well. Add in egg yolk and mix well again. Add in white bean puree and pumpkin puree and mix until incorporated.
3. Â Slowly add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture. Mix until just barely combined.
4. Â Finish mixing with a wooden spoon or spatula. Stir in oats, pumpkin seeds, white chocolate chips/chunks, and dried fruit (if using).
5. Â Drop by the tablespoon full onto parchment lined baking sheets. Â Bake for 11-12 minutes until just golden. Â Let cool on sheets for 1-2 minutes and then cool fully on racks. Â (Can store in a tightly covered tin or freeze.)
*Remember that honey should not be given to children under one year of age. Â You can substitute sugar or maple syrup for the younger crowd.