“Spice Spice Baby: 100 Recipes with Healing Spices for Your Family Table” by Kanchan Koya, Spice Spice Baby LLC, 192 pages, paperback, $35

Kanchan Koya became interested in the health-boosting properties of spices while a molecular biology Ph.D. student at Harvard Medical School. Then, when she became a mother and after checking with her pediatrician, she turned to spices to give her children “the best possible start with nutritious, flavorful food.”

She also founded Spice Spice Baby, a platform she says is “dedicated to bringing to light the healing power of ancient spices.” Now she has written a cookbook, “Spice Spice Baby: 100 Recipes with Healing Spices for Your Family Table,” in which she aims to debunk misconceptions about what can and can’t be fed to babies and children.

“There is no scientific basis for offering baby bland food,” she writes. “Yes, excess salt can wait until a baby’s kidneys mature by the end of the first year, but spices and herbs have the power to wake up their palates, setting them on a course for a lifetime of adventurous, healthy eating.”

In the first part of her book, Koya discusses the science-backed, health-boosting qualities of 15 spices, explaining what each spice is, its flavor, her favorite food pairings with that spice, and why science says it’s good for you. She also offers cautions on what to avoid. For example, she explains why nutmeg should be used in small, culinary amounts and kept away from cats and dogs and why you should use Ceylon, not Cassia, cinnamon. She notes that people with gallstones shouldn’t use large amounts of turmeric, star anise tea should never be given infants and children, and honey shouldn’t be given to babies under the age of 1.

In the book’s second part, she offers 100 recipes suitable for the whole family, some of which reflect the flavors of her native India. She also includes guidelines to help begin introducing solid food — with spice — to little ones. There are recipes for baby purees, smoothies, breakfast dishes, lunchbox treats, main dishes, side dishes, snacks, desserts, spiced remedies and condiments/spice blends.

Many of the recipes, but not all, are illustrated with full-color photographs of the completed dish.

Anyone interested in introducing their family to new flavors in easy-to-prepare recipes will like this book.


Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at sonnierfood@gmail.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.