Thursday, 26 November 2009

Pumpkin in Baby Food Recipes - When Can Baby Have Pumpkin?

A pumpkin is a type of squash and is a member of the gourd family (Cucurbitacae). This family also includes squash, cucumbers, gherkins, and melons. Pumpkins are actually fruits. We, and many of our visitors, always think of pumpkin as a fruit so we have included it in our Fruits area. Of course, there are also many people who think of pumpkin as a veggie. So how do you think of pumpkin?

Pumpkins contain some of the best nutritional compounds ever. They are highly loaded with Vitamin A and beta carotene. Beta Carotene is one of the plant carotenoids that when eaten and digested, turns into Vitamin A in the human body. Beta Carotene may reduce the risk of cancer as well as heart disease. It also may be responsible for combating or putting off the degenerative effects of ageing.

Beta Carotene is also responsible for "Orange Babies".

Pumpkins are also good sources of potassium, protein, and iron. Pumpkin seeds also contain a good amount of protein and iron so eating the seeds does provide some nutritive value. We don't recommend that you offer your baby or toddler pumpkin seeds however. Pumpkins are wonderfully low in fat, low in calories but high in fiber.

PUMPKIN: (one cup - cooked)

Vitamin A - 12230 IU
Vitamin C - 11.5 mg
Vitamin K - 2.0
Folate (important during pregnancy) - 22 mcg
Niacin - 1.01 mg

Potassium - 364 mg
Phosphorus - 74 mg
Magnesium - 22 mg
Calcium - 37 mg
Sodium - 2 mg
Iron - 1.40 mg
Also contains trace amounts of zinc, manganese and copper.

When can my Baby eat Baby Food Recipes with Pumpkin?

Babies may begin to eat Pumpkins from 6 months old. You may feed your baby plain pumpkin in pureed form or mixed into homemade cereals, yogurts, and even in meats such as chicken. Adding a dash of cinnamon to pumpkin gives baby a first exposure to the wonder of spices.

You may also bake pumpkin as you would a butternut or acorn squash and serve the baked pumpkin in small dices as Baby Finger Foods. Rub a wee bit of butter and a bit of cinnamon on the inside of the pumpkin prior to baking for a tasty nutritious treat.

Choosing a Pumpkin to cook for Homemade Baby Food Recipes

If you will be using Pumpkins in food dishes, look for smaller, immature pumpkins - sometimes these "cooking pumpkins" are labeled as "sugar pumpkins" or "pie pumpkins".

The smaller, sugar/pie pumpkins provide the most flavorful additions to any baked dish or baked good and are great as a soup. These smaller pumpkins are more tender and less stringy than the larger variety. Try to find a pumpkin anywhere between five to eight pounds.

Is it Safe to use Canned Pumpkin in Baby Food Recipes?

You may use canned pumpkin for baby food. Ensure that you purchase canned pure pumpkin and NOT "Pumpkin Pie" mix. The Pumpkin Pie mix contains sugars, starches and other additives. We do not recommend using canned foods for all of baby's homemade food. Please visit our Using Canned Foods for Making Homemade Baby Foods.

How do I cook a Pumpkin?

Pumpkins may be poached, boiled, steamed or baked. Please be aware that Pumpkins tend to loose their nutritive value with prolonged cooking. Baking pumpkins for homemade baby food will ensure the most nutrients are retained for your baby. A Pumpkin must be cooked immediately after you have cut it open or you will find a brownish-blackish mold begin to immediately set into the flesh.

Once cooked, Pumpkin should be used and/or chilled immediately. If you will not be using the cooked pumpkin immediately, store it either pureed or in the cooked chunks, in the freezer. it does freeze well. The cooked pumpkin will turn a brownish orange so don't be alarmed when you peak into the bowl and find that color.

Baking pumpkins, like many other fruits/squashes may be the best choice of cooking for optimal flavor and nutrient retention.

28 Sept. 2007: Beth wrote us to ask why her baked acorn squash had hard strings in it. Today as I was baking some sugar pumpkins, I was pleased that they baked so nicely that the meat just slipped off the shell, without the hard veins (strings) sticking to the meat.

When scooping out the "meat" of many winter squash types, you may encounter some very hard "strings". These strings are actually the veins of the shell.

Look at the acorn squash or sugar pumpkin and notice it's ridges. Between these ridges are the "veins" or strings that you may find once you have cut and then baked the squash or pumpkin. To avoid getting these hard little strings in your puree, scoop the insides out gently and not too closely to the shell. If you have baked your squash or pumpkin enough, these strings or veins will easily fall away from the shell as the meat is separated from it.

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