This is another one of my batch cook favourites. A lovely thick warming curry with a hint of sweetness that’s easy and cheap to make, a one-pot-wonder and is the perfect balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats loaded with nutrients to support growing bodies.
This curry makes a great first-food when introducing solids to your little one, just mash the chickpeas and sweet potato up if you need to avoid any choking hazards, then stir through the rice. As your child gets older, they’ll enjoy picking out the chickpeas one by one as they practice refining their fine-motor skills and pincer grip.
Chickpeas really are one of my favourite foods, especially for kids – so much bang, for not a lot of bucks! They’re are a wonderful source of plant-based protein, fibre, B vitamins are (play an important role in metabolism, helps make new red blood cells, influences immune function and cognitive performance, maintains nerve cells), non-heme iron, phosphorus, zinc (supports the immune system, vital to wound healing, and involved in taste perception. Also affects brain function and influences learning performance and behaviour) and more, they’re also a great prebiotic (the food for our gut bacteria). As a complex carbohydrate packed with fibre, chickpeas digest slowly which allows for sustained energy release and controlled blood sugar levels all while supporting healthy digestive systems and bowel movements. Being high in protein will support the development of muscles and organs and will help to keep little tummies feeling fuller for longer too. Canned chickpeas are a good option if you don’t have time to prepare beans from scratch (check out my post on how simple this is to do) and they retain much of the same nutrients as freshly made beans. Many brands of canned beans contain BPA in the lining of the can – a toxin and endocrine disrupters that can leach into your food – so look for organic chickpeas and brands that are BPA-free.
Sweet potatoes are packed full of nutrients like: Vitamin A and beta carotene, as well as potassium, vitamin E, calcium and folate (vitamin B6), they’re low-GI, full of fibre, cheap and readily available. According to the Environmental Working Group, sweet potatoes are on the “Clean 15” list, meaning they’re one of the top 15 foods least contaminated with pesticides, so purchasing organic is up to you. Sadly, Otis isn’t keen on sweet potato, he’s eaten it maybe twice, but the rest of the time it just gets pushed to the side of the plate. Never the less I’ll persist and keep offering it to him because research suggests we may need to offer children an individual food up to 10-times before they choose to eat it, see more on this post.
Kale is among one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It’s high in vitamin K, C (antioxidant, helps the body make collage and absorb iron) and A (important for healthy eyesight, night vision and growth), manganese, calcium (plays a critical role in the formation of bones and teeth), copper, potassium and magnesium, loaded with antioxidants and sulphur-containing compunds that support liver detoxification pathways. Chop the kale into small pieces and it makes it harder for kids to pick it out ;).
There may be some hesitation about using coconut oil due to it’s high saturated fat content, and although it’s true that consumption of large quantities of saturated fat – especially those from hydrogenated vegetable oil – can increase our levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol, coconut oil’s saturated fat content contains lauric acid which helps raise our levels of HDL “good” cholesterol, so moderate consumption of this healthy fat is safe. And kids need healthy fats for optimal growth! Healthy fats are necessary for brain development, creating hormones and absorbing fat-soulable vitamins (A, E, D and K), and keeping tiny tummies feeling fuller for longer. Coconut oil is also rich in: medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which can help regulate metabolism, reverse insulin resistance and improve cognitive function; Antioxidants to protect against cell damage; and lauric acid to support the immune system with it’s anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties (the only other good source of lauric acid is breastmilk which is 24% saturated fat).
I like to serve this curry with Basmati rice cooked in bone broth. Basmati is a long-grain rice with a low GI and I choose this over brown rice, because although brown contains more nutrients, it can be taxing on little digestive tracks. Cooking rice in bone broth adds nutrients to a food that’s otherwise pretty devoid of any. You could also serve it with quinoa (a complete protein), millet or for a grain-free option try cauliflower rice. Top with a dollop of full-fat cows or coconut yoghurt for extra tang and if you can be bothered, some chopped coriander and coconut flakes. Tonight we added some steamed green beans (well, what beans were left after Otis ate them all as a pre-dinner snack) and some homemade mango chutney.
SWEET POTATO, CHICKPEA, COCONUT & KALE CURRY
SERVES: 4 – PREP TIME 15 MINS – COOK TIME: 30 MINS
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tsps ginger, fresh, grated
- 1 tsp turmeric, ground
- 1 tsp coriander, ground
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks (pumpkin also works well here)
- 400g cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or tinned (BPA-free)
- 400g diced tomatoes, tinned (BPA-free)
- 400ml coconut milk (BPA-free)
- 1 cup (250ml) bone broth or vegetable stock
- 150g kale or English spinach, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- In a large saucepan, heat coconut oil over a medium heat. Add cumin and onion and season with a pinch of salt. Cook until onion is fragrant and translucent (approx 3-5 minutes), be careful not to burn
- Add garlic, ginger, ground turmeric and coriander. Cook and stir just until the garlic softens, again be careful not to burn
- Add the sweet potato, chickpeas, tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the the sweet potato is tender
- Add the spinach/kale and cook until wilted. Then add the lemon juice and season with the salt and black pepper to taste
- Serve on a bed of cooked grains, garnished with coriander and coconut. If desired, offer lime wedges for squeezing over the curry. Store the cooled curry in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month