Bulk Up Baby's Diet With Broccoli

As your baby begins to eat solid foods, it can be fun to explore what food items he or she likes or dislikes. Every parent has been through a situation where their baby simply does not enjoy a new taste. It's times like those when you get to see cute little faces or you might even end up wearing a bit of the food. In any case, it is important to introduce your child to a range of healthy food options. One of the best foods to get your child interested in is broccoli, and, luckily, most babies enjoy it. Plus, there are many simple broccoli baby food recipes.

Nutritional Information and Facts

Broccoli is part of the cabbage family of vegetables. It grows in flower heads or sprouts and is bright green in color but can also be purple. The stalks and flowers are safe to eat.

When it comes to nutritional value, broccoli is bursting at the seams. It is very low in calories, which makes it an ideal food for people of any age. Despite the low calories, it is rich in nutrients and vitamins, including:

  • Vitamin A
  • Carotenoids
  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Folates

It is an amazing source of fiber and anti-oxidants, too. Studies have shown it offers many benefits for heart health, can prevent cancer and is wonderful for growing brains and bodies. It may also help prevent or lessen allergies and provide a boost to the immune system.

While your baby is simply trying out foods at this points to learn how to eat and to develop a taste for a variety of foods, for you and your older children, it is recommended to try to eat around 1 1/2 cups of broccoli each day. This ensures you get all the amazing benefits this vegetable has to offer.

Purchasing and Storing Tips

When choosing broccoli, be sure to look for compact heads with no signs of bruising. The color should be uniform. Avoid yellow coloring because this indicates the vegetable is old. Also, watch for slimy texture and rubbery stalks, which also are signs it is past its prime.

You want to store broccoli is a plastic bag, but remove as much air as you can. Wash and cut it only when you will be using it.  Keep it refrigerated for up to 10 days to ensure the retention of all the wonderful nutritional benefits. For longer storage, you can blanch it and freeze for at least a year. Tightly cover any leftover cooked broccoli in a container and refrigerate for up to a few days.

Cooking for Baby

While fresh broccoli is best because the nutrients stay intact, this isn't ideal for a baby who doesn't have all his or her teeth yet. The next best thing is steaming it. To steam, just cut it into pieces and steam on the stove-top or in the microwave for seven minutes. You can also boil it, although this will result in some loss of nutrients.

As you cook, keep in mind the stems take longer than the flower heads to cook. It is a good idea to separate them before cooking and begin stems a few minutes before adding the flowers.

Introducing Broccoli to Baby

As mentioned, broccoli is part of the cabbage family, which means it can cause gas. To avoid issues with your baby's digestive system and the discomfort of gas, it is best to wait to introduce broccoli until he or she is about eight months old. If you notice gas issues, you may want to wait and reintroduce when he or she is 10 months old. If your baby has had gas issues before, then it is probably best to wait until 10 months for the first introduction.

Broccoli Baby Food Recipes

A popular method for preparing broccoli for a baby is to make a puree. This is also a very simple recipe option. To create the puree, all you have to do is prepare your broccoli by washing and cutting it into pieces. Go ahead and remove the stalks--you can save them for the adults.

After prepping, you want to add the broccoli to a pot of water that has been brought to boiling and then reduced to a soft boil. Cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. The broccoli should be tender. Remove it from the heat and rinse in cold water.

Add the rinsed and cooled broccoli to your food processor or blender and puree until all the chunks are gone and it is completely smooth. You can add water to thin the puree as needed or use formula, breast milk or milk.

Another recipe idea is to create a creamy broccoli soup. This requires a few more ingredients, but it is still rather simple. Start by prepping your broccoli as you did for the puree. Then you want to add the broccoli, 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and 1/4 teaspoon of oregano to a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmer until the broccoli is tender.

Remove the pot from the heat and add in one cup of milk. Puree the mixture in your food processor or blender. This can be served hot or cold.

Finally, a nice idea for a little variety and a mixture of beneficial veggies is to create a mixed puree with one medium carrot, three to four large flowers of broccoli, one large potato and a third of a cup of cheddar cheese. Begin by prepping the carrots and potatoes by peeling and cutting them into chunks. Prep your broccoli as you have done before. Wash everything good.

Boil the potatoes and carrots for 20 minutes. Steam the broccoli for seven minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked, drain them and add to them one tablespoon of butter, four tablespoons of milk and the cheese. Mash and mix everything together.  

Your little one is sure to enjoy a tasty broccoli treat. Just keep in mind the age restrictions and be sure to follow proper preparation and storage instructions. Also, try out a variety of recipes to present broccoli to your child in different ways. In no time, your baby will develop a love for this cruciferous vegetable that is sure to last a lifetime. For more helpful information, please follow KAMO on Twitter: @kamo_family, Facebook and Instagram: kamofamily.

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