This week brings a welcome arrival to grocery stores and local greenmarkets: pumpkins. Older kids love them for carving Halloween jack o'lanterns, but they're are also a healthy and delicious source of nutrition for babies. Don't be intimidated by cutting and cooking fresh pumpkin. It's easier than you think, and pumpkin is a great first solid food for babies six months and older.
You may already know that pumpkin's orange color, like sweet potatoes and carrots, indicates that it's a rich source of beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. What you may not know, though, is that pumpkin is also a good source of vitamin C, potassium and that it is high in fiber. Combine all these good benefits with a naturally sweet flavor and you've got a powerhouse food your baby will love to eat.
Sugar pumpkins, also known as pie pumpkins, are ideal for making a fresh puree. Not only are they sweeter in flavor, they're also smaller in size, yielding a just-right two to three cup batch of puree. Making the puree is also quick and easy when you use your Cuisinart PowerPrep Plus 14-Cup Food Processor. Unlike some vegetables, which can easily be mashed with a fork, cooked pumpkin flesh is stringy in texture. A few pulses in your food processor creates a smooth consistency perfect for baby to enjoy.
Pumpkin puree, on its own, will be a hit with your baby but it is also great to combine with other fruits and vegetables. Try stirring a dash of cinnamon into the puree for a wholesome pumpkin pie flavor. Apple or pear sauce mixed in is another winning taste bud combination. Whatever way you prep it, pumpkin is sure to become one of your baby's favorite foods this fall.
Makes about 2 ½ cups
1 medium-size sugar pumpkin (about 2 ½ pounds)
Water, as needed to thin puree
Preheat oven to 425º. Cut off top of pumpkin, as if prepping to carve; discard this top piece. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds. Be sure to scoop out any remaining stringy flesh; a teaspoon gets the job done easily. Place pumpkin, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until very tender when pierced with a form. Let cool before beginning next step.
Prep pumpkin using same method as described in step one of the conventional oven method. Place cut-side down in a deep microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high for four to six minutes or until flesh is tender when pierced with a fork. Let cool before beginning next step.