Pumpkin for Baby
It's obvious from their golden hue that pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A and Beta Carotene! When eaten and digested, Beta Carotene turns into Vitamin A in the human body, providing us with healthy, glowing skin and good vision. Not only does pumpkin help our skin and eyes, but it's an outstanding source of carotenoid antioxidants that help protect our cells from damage. The fleshy part of the pumpkin is nutrient-dense and so are the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are rich in minerals and Vitamin E and are a fun, crunchy snack after they're roasted. Baby should wait on these since the outer husk can be hard to chew, but pumpkin puree can be used in sweet breads, as a topping on yogurt and roasted in the oven as a delicious treat for baby.
Highlighted Nutritional Importance of Pumpkin
Vitamin A - important for baby's vision health and promotes healthy bone growth
Vitamin C - an antioxidant that helps build a healthy immune system and keeps gums healthy
Vitamin B6 - an important vitamin that helps your body metabolize protein, fats and carbohydrates from the food you eat
Vitamin B2 - promotes growth, good vision, and is important for baby's bone and muscle health
Manganese - crucial for forming healthy bone and cartilage
Copper - this mineral is essential for forming red blood cells and helps keep hair growing and looking healthy
Potassium - an electrolyte mineral that helps with muscle function and heart rhythm
Magnesium - supports the immune system and helps to maintain muscle and nerve function
How to Select and Store Pumpkin for Baby Food
You may want to consider purchasing pumpkin and other winter squashes organic. This vegetable is very effective at pulling contaminates out of the soil, so it's important to purchase from a farm that farms organically and without harmful compounds that may get into the soil. When searching for a pumpkin you'll be cooking with, look for smaller pumpkins (around 5-8lbs) that are labeled as "pie pumpkins" or "sugar pumpkins". Buying a smaller pumpkin ensures great flavor and will be less stringy than the larger variety. Pumpkin tends to decay easily, so it's important to carefully inspect it before you purchase at the farmers market or grocery store. You want the pumpkins to be firm, heavy for their size and have dull rinds, not glossy. A dull, hard rind indicates a pumpkin with great flavor!
Pumpkins tend to loose their nutritive value when cooked for long periods of time, so try not to overcook or bake. You can steam, boil or bake pumpkin, but baking is the best option for optimal flavor and nutrient retention. Once cooked and cut into chunks or pureed, pumpkin should be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Pumpkin freezes quite well and can be used year round in sauces, soups, and delicious baked goods!