Yummy Pumpkin Dishes for Your Little Pumpkin

The pumpkin is a fun fall symbol that kids of all ages use to make funny Halloween faces. But that’s not all it is. This orange gourd is a fruit and it’s packed with nutrients. Make this gourd a true Halloween treat for your little pumpkin with some yummy recipes that are also pretty easy to follow; we’ve included them below.

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Nutritional Benefits

Just one cup of pumpkin has double the daily recommended dose of vitamin A, which supports good vision and aids in the formation and maintenance of healthy skin and teeth. Here’s a look at the many nutrients and how much of each is in a cup of pumpkin.

Vitamins:

  • Vitamin A, 12230 IU: Along with the above benefits, pumpkin offers the antioxidant beta-carotene.
  • Vitamin C, 11.5 mg: This super-vitamin is essential to growth and support of a variety of bodily processes, such as collagen production, iron absorption, immune system functions and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
  • Vitamin K, 2 mcg: This lesser-known vitamin aids in blood clotting and delivery of calcium through the body.
  • Folic acid, 22 mcg: Also known as vitamin B9, folic acid supports cell repair and DNA production.
  • Niacin, 1.01 mg: This vitamin (B3) helps regulate cholesterol and protects against hardened arteries.

Minerals and More

Pumpkin are full of minerals, too, including potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and iron. At three grams of fiber per cup, this squash is a natural choice to help loosen baby’s stool. Fiber also helps you feel fuller. If you’re a new mom trying to lose some baby fat, try adding pumpkin to your diet. The seeds themselves offer omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which support brain development, and tryptophan, which aids production of serotonin and melatonin, hormones known to help us sleep. A taste at bedtime may be just what your little one needs to sleep through the night.

Is My Baby Ready to Eat Solid Foods?

In general, you can introduce solid foods, in puree form, to your baby between the ages of four and six months. After a few weeks of pureed foods, you can move up to a thicker blend, then up to a slightly chunky puree at about nine months. You can mix pumpkin with other purees too, including cereals. Always check with your pediatrician, who has specific knowledge of your little one, before trying something new.

Picking Your Pumpkin

Look for the smaller gourds (not the miniatures), which have a better flavor than the larger varieties. Also known as sugar, cooking or pie pumpkins, these little guys are also more tender and less stringy. They can be boiled and steamed, but baking is the preferred way to cook a pumpkin. Baking also makes it easier to remove the stringy insides.

They’re available only once a year, but with proper storage, many pumpkins can last up to three months; some can last as long as six months.

  • Warmer indoor temperatures can limit a pumpkin’s shelf life to less than a month. Store gourds outside until you’re ready to cook them.
  • Keep them out of direct sunlight. Find a frost-free zone near your home or another structure.
  • Use cardboard or straw to set pumpkins on; placing them directly on hard cement or wood can age them.

Ready to Cook?

You can easily incorporate pureed pumpkin into other foods, especially other fruits. To bake pumpkin, halve it and remove seeds. Cut out stringy insides without scraping too much of the meat away. Place halves face down in a baking pan with one to two inches of water. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove strings after cooling.

Pumpkin and Fruit Puree

This squash mixes easily with a variety of fruits for great new tastes. Use them in equal portions with pureed apples, pears, peaches and bananas. Try a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger to taste. Also try mixing it with applesauce and cereal in equal portions.

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Tasty Puree

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C. diced onion
  • 1-2 C. pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 2 C. vegetable stock
  • Herbs to taste (try basil or rosemary)
  • Pinch of turbinado or brown sugar, to taste

Directions:

Heat oil in medium pot. Add onion and squash and saute until onion is translucent. Add vegetable stock and bring to a slow simmer until squash is soft enough to puree. Season to taste. If you prefer, use nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon in place of herbs. Add more substance by tossing with cooked quinoa, brown rice or lentils.

Hearty Risotto and Pumpkin

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 C. onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
  • 2 C. arborio rice
  • 1 C. apple juice
  • 6 C. hot stock, chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 C. grated Parmesan
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 small pumpkin

Directions:

  • Cut pumpkin in halves. Bake and puree one half; peel the second half and dice, then saute in oil and butter until tender. Set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in medium skillet. Add garlic and onion, then saute until soft. Add rice and stir to coat. Continue stirring until translucent.
  • Add apple juice and continue stirring until juice is absorbed. Slowly add about 3 cups of stock to cover rice and stir until liquid is absorbed. Then add another cup of stock and stir until absorbed. Repeat until all stock is absorbed and rice is tender.
  • Stir in pumpkin, both pureed and diced, and lower heat below simmer point to allow rice and pumpkin to blend well.
  • Stir in Parmesan and butter and remove from heat.

Velvety Gourd Soup

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. pumpkin
  • 13.75 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 C. half and half or evaporated milk
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 tsp. salt

Directions:

  • Combine broth, onions, carrots, salt, pepper and baking soda in large pot
  • Simmer uncovered 10-15 minutes to soften carrots
  • Add pumpkin and half and half; simmer uncovered about 10 minutes.                

Pumpkin and Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. milk or yogurt, plain
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
  • 1 banana
  • Dash of cinnamon

Directions:

Combine in blender and blend until smooth.

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