Tinned salmon is a great source of calcium but it’s the sort of thing that sits in the back of the cupboard for months because I struggle to find a way to use it; the reason it’s so high in calcium is that it includes some small bones and skin, which is not immediately appetising, and certainly not baby friendly.
I’ve finally found a way to use the long neglected tins, when I was getting tired of using hummus yet again as a sandwich filler or chickpea pancake topper. For babies and toddlers, spreads are so much easier than loose sandwich fillings which just fall out immediately or get flung all over the place, but dairy free options for spreads are a bit limited. So, I decided to change it up a bit by making a hummus inspired spread including a tin of salmon and – much to my surprise – it was delicious! And the food processor whizzed all the bones into oblivion. This really does get top calcium (and also protein) points, because it also includes tahini and chickpeas, both of which are good sources. As a bonus, it contains loads of omega-3 fatty acids which are so important for brain development.
As long as you have a food processor this is really straightforward to make. I do a huge batch (usually double the amount below) and freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays transferred into a freezer bag once they’ve frozen. Just take out enough for a portion the night before, put it in the fridge and the next morning it is good to go, meaning one bit of effort gives a nutritious sandwich filling for lots of lunches!
For babies: This is great served as a finger food on strips of toast or chickpea pancakes. There is a lot of really good nutritious value in this spread, but tinned salmon does contain added salt, so just be mindful of this when looking at salt intake across the day. Bear in mind that tahini (sesame) is one of the top 14 allergens, so only serve this spread once you know your baby is tolerating it.
Ingredients and method:
This gives multiple portions; enough for at least four sandwich fillings, depending on how thickly you spread it.
- 200g can of tinned salmon (make sure you choose one which includes small bones – it looks pretty disgusting before processing, but this is where the calcium comes from)
- ½ 400g can of chickpeas, drained
- Up to 100ml plant based milk of your choice (ideally unsweetened and calcium enriched)
- 2 teaspoons tahini (sesame)
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Juice of half a lemon
Drain the tin of salmon. Mash it up a little with a fork, and tip it into a food processor. Peel and slice the garlic and add that along with the drained chickpeas, 70ml of the plant based milk, and all the other ingredients.
Whizz the mix up at a high speed, until you have a smooth paste and are sure all the bones have been totally blitzed up! You can then gradually add up to 30ml of the plant based milk and mix again, until you have your desired thickness. Keep in mind that it will thicken slightly when chilled in the fridge.
I keep it in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze for later use, as described above.