BRAT Diet for Babies

The stomach bug cast a plague on our house Tuesday night. It was the first time I had to watch my toddler battle through it, while we huddled together in a bath tub quarantine. As his appetite returned, I found ways to modify my own BRAT menu for his palate.

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Here are some of the things that worked well for breakfast, lunch and dinner:

The good news is he recovered quickly, and knock on wood, mom and dad didn’t get it!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I’m a sucker for good gnocchi, and wanted to use up the abundance of sweet potatoes and almond flour that have been hanging out in my cupboard for a good three months. The kicker is I don’t do ricotta, so I adapted this recipe to make sweet potato gnocchi with goat cheese and my own (mediocre) kale pesto creation. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and takes no more than an hour from start to finish.

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For starters, peel and chop a 2 lb bag of baby sweet potatoes or 2+ large sweet potatoes. Boil for 20 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the sweet potatoes are tender, drain the water and add 1 cup of goat cheese to the pot. Mash with a potato masher, and then add 2 1/2 cups almond meal/flour and combine into a dough-like texture. Roll into bite-size scoops and place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet; bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Note: depending on the sauce you choose, you may want to opt for boiling the gnocchi. That’s what I’m going to try next time for that pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Optional: I made a kale pesto with sauteed kale, olive oil, parmesan cheese and almond milk. This particular combo needs a little more work before it’s ready for the spotlight. Feel free to share your favorite kale pesto recipe in the comments!

Smashed Potatoes with Lox

Smoked salmon is one of my all-time favorite indulgences. Here’s an easy way to enjoy it guilt-free with smashed potatoes and goat milk yogurt.

Steam red potatoes in a microwaveable bowl, covered by a plate, for 5-10 minutes – until potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Then, simply smash potatoes with a fork in the same bowl, and top with sliced lox and goat milk yogurt. Super satisfying and satiating!

Monday Quarterback Pesto

My low-lactose spinach dip may not have scored big on Super Bowl Sunday, but it made a delicious pasta sauce on Monday night!

For the dip, I followed this recipe as a guide, swapping almonds for cashews, using fresh garlic in place of powder, and goat cheese instead of cream cheese.

For the pasta, I added leftover turkey meat from burritos (previously seasoned with cumin and chili powder, plus chicken broth) to cooked pasta, and stirred in two spoonfuls of the spinach dip. Delicious!

Beyond the BRAT Diet

This post might make you squeamish, but if you’re like me you passed that point a long time ago. There’s nothing worse than sticking to the BRAT diet when you love food (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast), and there’s a limited amount of “safe” eating guides out there. So I thought my pain could be your gain, by sharing what I’ve eaten on the road to recovery from stomach troubles.

Traditionally, the BRAT diet doesn’t include many of the following items. But I chose to take a few liberties in the name of enjoying myself, not getting bored, and getting back to normal. So proceed with caution, stay away from veggies, and eat at your own risk…

Breakfast

  • If coffee is too much, I recommend Penguin caffeinated mints. (Tea was much too acidic for me.)
  • Oatmeal is a good choice and Malt-o-Meal with a drop of maple syrup is delicious (no milk, sorry).
  • Plain bagels are safe and the chewiness distracts you from the lack of filling (or have eggs, but no cheese!)
  • Bananas are the first letter in the BRAT acronym, but make sure they are nice and ripe to cut down on acid.
  • When you’re ready, scrambled eggs with salt and pepper (avoid butter).

Snacks

  • Triscuits are satisfying, and the texture is a little more normal and exciting than saltines.
  • Tortilla chips (without salsa) are a safe bet, especially for dining out.
  • Toast with olive oil or honey (no butter).
  • Raw, whole almonds.

Lunch

  • Brown rice or white rice: I purchased the microwave-ready kind for convenience at work, but cooked the rice in a ceramic bowl with a little water instead of the packaging (personal preference). Add canned tuna or chicken if you have the appetite – or stick to salt, pepper and soy sauce.
  • Plain pasta with olive oil. Cook a large batch for several meals, including dinner. (Or cooked in chicken broth, as I did here.)
  • Ramen with mild (not spicy!) broth; you can purchase Annie Chun’s Ramen House, but only use a small drop of sauce.
  • Canned tuna with olive oil instead of mayonnaise, on bread, crackers or rolled up in a tortilla and sliced into pinwheels.
  • When you’re ready, ease into sandwiches that don’t have mayonnaise or veggies (i.e. turkey, chicken and cheese worked okay for me in the later stages).

Dinner

  • At home, I made either rice or pasta and ate it plain or with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • When I was ready to add meat, the safest bets are white meat: chicken, turkey and pork. For me, beef is too hard to digest.
  • Taco shells filled with ground turkey (cooked in its own juices, seasoned with salt and pepper), plus rice.
  • At restaurants, menus can be intimidating. I found that roasted chicken was usually the best choice for me – not perfect – but better than other options and usually served with mashed potatoes.
  • Skipping the salad or appetizer course is hard, but ask for a second bread basket to keep you from making a desperate move.
  • See more BRAT-friendly dinner ideas here.

Beverages

  • I drank water with most meals and in between. (SmartWater and coconut water have electrolytes!) For me, juice and soda are too acidic.
  • I eased back into adult beverages with beer, but made sure to combine it with food and lots of water. Don’t rush it until you feel ready though.

Godspeed my friends – and please share your own stomach safety tips in the comments section below.