By making your baby's own healthy teething rusks, you can skip the refined sugars, gluten, flavours or additives that can be found in some commercially made rusks. I've used organic quinoa flakes to produce a firm and crisp texture that doesn't crumble or snap off easily like other gluten-free flour options. You can also use the rusks straight from the freezer to help soothe your teething baby. The rusks can also be shaped to make it easy for babies to grip and hold.
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Preheat oven to 150c (fan-forced) and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Add the quinoa flakes, coconut, arrowroot and cinnamon to a food processor. Process for approximately 20 seconds to produce a fine texture.
Add the mashed banana, coconut oil and vanilla. Process for 10 seconds, scrape down the side of the bowl and process for a further 10 seconds (the mixture will come together into a ball). Remove the blade and allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.
Place the soft dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out to a 0.5cm thick rectangle. Cut dough into roughly 2cm x 12cm strips. Depending on the age of your baby you can shape the strips to make it easier for them to grip and hold. For very young ones you can gently squeeze the strips and twist 3 - 4 times to give a textured surface to help the rusk not slip out of their hand or roll into smooth log shapes. Leave the strips as is for older babies.
Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until dried out and crisp, the rusks should be hard and unable to break off when chewed or sucked. (The rusks can be put back into a heated oven after baby has sucked one end to crispen up again to be reused).
Store a few rusks in a glass airtight container for up to 7 days and the remaining in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Quinoa flakes are essentially just pressed quinoa, each little quinoa seed is rolled flat to make a flake. Quinoa flakes are an excellent replacement for rolled oats which are a grain and high in phytic acid. Quinoa flakes are a complete protein, which means they contain all the essential amino acids and they are full of good fibre. They are very quick to cook as they are small and thin flakes and make great gluten-free porridge.
In the majority of my recipes where I use dried coconut, I use finely-shredded desiccated coconut (unless I have stated otherwise). Make sure you are purchasing unsweetened and organic - many regular brands contain preservatives (sulphur dioxide).
Arrowroot is a herb, the roots are cultivated for its starch properties. It is used in my recipes as a thickener and I also like combining it with almond meal to produce a much lighter texture, more like a gluten flour. I find the starch helps to bind the ingredients together. You can substitute tapioca flour, which is made from the dried roots of the cassava plant. Tapioca can be used in baking, it has a slightly sweet flavour. However, I do not recommend thickening with tapioca, as it has a stretchy, gummy texture. Supermarkets only sell in very small containers, which is not cost effective. Purchase from baking specialty stores, health food stores or online. ( When substituting for cornflour in recipes, 2 teaspoons arrowroot = 1 tablespoon cornflour/starch).
I am sure you will notice as you read my recipes that cinnamon appears quite frequently. It lends itself to savoury and sweet dishes. I have used ground cinnamon in my recipes if not stated otherwise. The best cinnamon to use is Ceylon (Verum). It has huge health benefits in regulating blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has antifungal properties and candida (yeast overgrowth) cannot live in a cinnamon environment. Added to food it inhibits bacterial growth, making it a natural food preservative and these are just a few of the benefits.
In a paleo diet it's best to eat bananas in moderation. They are excellent to use to naturally sweeten a recipe and then you can reduce or eliminate other sweeteners. Bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber potassium, copper, so you can see they are healthy but I find it's best just no in large qualities due to their high natural sugars.
Coconut oil is one of the most nutritious fats to cook and bake with. Use organic extra-virgin coconut oil which is unrefined and unbleached from non GMO coconuts. Coconut oil has a high smoking point and it is slow to oxidize due to its high saturated fat content, thus, resistant to going rancid. Some studies suggest coconut oil helps with digestion, including irritable bowel, tummy bugs, candida and parasites due to this oil containing short term medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a healthy form of saturated fat.
Use an organic vanilla extract (not an essence) or vanilla powder. Vanilla makes a big difference to the flavour of a recipe, I recommend keeping to the quantities I have stated in a recipe. I prefer Madagascar pure vanilla extract manufactured by ‘Simply Organic’ and for powder, Vanillamax 100% pure, finely ground Madagascar vanilla beans produced by Bulletproof.