Tomatoes for Baby
Most of us know tomatoes come in all different shapes, colors and sizes, but did you know there are over a thousand different varieties? Tomatoes are beautiful, flavorful and a great option for a nutritious food for baby or kiddo. Tomatoes are known for their bright red, orange and yellow coloring and are rich in a potent antioxidant - lycopene. Lycopene has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce the amount of oxidized "bad" cholesterol in the blood stream, and reduce the rate at which bones demineralize, therefore decreasing the risk of osteoporosis in women. In addition to lycopene, tomatoes are also rich in vitamins A, C, E and many minerals, making them one of the most nutrient-dense fruits out there. Yes, a fruit! Tomatoes are normally referred to as vegetables, but they are actually a fruit since they contain seeds that can produce when planted. So go ahead and make a quick fresh tomato sauce for baby or kiddo, and liven up their whole wheat pasta, quinoa, or even roasted veggies. You can also add it to a puree for baby for a sweet, flavorful kick they will love!
Highlighted Nutritional Importance of Tomatoes for Baby
Vitamin A - this vitamin is known for its role in eye health, but also important for the heart, brain, and healthy bone growth
Vitamin C - a potent antioxidant that is crucial to a healthy immune system
Vitamin K - this vitamin is vital for the blood clotting process and healthy bones and teeth
Folate - this B vitamin is important for a healthy brain and neurological system
Vitamin B6 - important for hormone balance and supports brain development and function
Potassium - an electrolyte mineral that is needed to maintain a healthy and steady heart rhythm
Manganese - a potent antioxidant that helps form baby's bone and cartilage
Phosphorus - vital for healthy bones and teeth (about 85% of your body's phosphorus is found in your bones and teeth)
Copper - this trace mineral (meaning it is only needed in small amounts) is essential for forming red blood cells and helps support the cardiovascular system
How to Select and Store Tomatoes for Baby Food
According to the EWG, tomatoes are listed on the Dirty Dozen list, meaning they are one of the foods most highly contaminated with pesticides and buying organic is a smart choice. When purchasing tomatoes at your farmers market or grocery store, choose tomatoes that are rich in color. Deep reds are a great choice, but so are vibrant oranges, yellows and purples. Tomatoes should be smooth skinned and free of wrinkles, cracks, bruises or soft spots. Ripe tomatoes will also have a noticeable sweet fragrance.
Store tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight so that they reach maximum ripeness. They should keep up to a week, depending on how ripe they were when purchased. If you do happen to refrigerate ripe tomatoes, let them come to room temperature about 30 minutes before eating so that they regain their maximum flavor and juiciness.
It is recommended to serve fresh tomatoes to baby and kiddo, to cook them first to reduce a bit of the acidity that can be irritating to some young children. Quick tomato purees are a tasty addition to whole grain pasta, quinoa, or roasted veggies and add a nutritious, immune boost too!
Recipes Using Tomatoes