It's that time again! Pumpkins are appearing in the shops alongside scary masks and halloween costumes, so what can you do with a pumpkin other than carving it?
Pumpkins are jam-packed full of some of the best nutritional compounds around. They are highly loaded with Vitamin A and beta carotene. Beta Carotene is one of the plant carotenoids that when eaten and digested, turns into Vitamin A in the human body.
Pumpkins are also good sources of potassium, protein, and iron. They are wonderfully low in fat, low in calories but high in fibre.
With all this goodness, cooked pumpkin makes a brilliantly nutritious and tasty meal for your baby or child. However, before you start saving all the insides of your carved pumpkins, it's important to note that it's always best to use "cooking pumpkins" when selecting a pumpkin which you intend to eat. Although typical large carving pumpkins are edible, they can taste awful! As a rule of thumb, the larger the pumpkin, the tougher the skin and the woodier and more tasteless the flesh.
If your little one is at the puree stage of feeding, the brilliant "My Pouch" is ideal for batch cooking or when you're out and about. Just fill up each pouch with the puree then either freeze or pop in a lunch box - your little one can suck it straight from the pouch! Cheaper than shop-bought alternatives and you know whats in it! Perfect for pumpkin on the go!!
|My Pouch - A Pack of 10 for just £9.99 at Born|
Pumpkin by itself is excellent. To cook pumpkin, slice into chunks no larger than 3"x3", and all chunks must be about the same size. Leave the peel on. Steam in the microwave or on the stove until all pieces are soft and mushy.
Pumpkin Puree (6 months+)
1 cooking pumpkin
cinnamon, nutmeg (optional - sprinkle into the cooking water or when you puree/mash)
1. Halve the pumpkin, and remove the seeds.
2. Place both halves face down in a baking pan with approx 1-2 inches of water.
3. Bake between 375-425 F for approximately 40 minutes to 1 hour until the pumpkin flesh is soft.
4. Scrape out the pumpkin flesh and then mash or puree as needed for your baby.
Easy Pumpkin Soup (6 months+)
8 oz (1 cup) pumpkin, sliced
2 tsp unsalted butter
7 fl oz (just under 1 cup) water
little milk (you can use formula/breastmilk if you wish)
pinch freshly ground black pepper (optional)
2 drops of maple syrup
Place the sliced pumpkin in a pan with the water and butter.
Simmer until very tender.
Puree, then use a little milk to thin the mixture to a creamy consistency.
Add the black pepper and maple syrup, then return to the pan and heat through.
If your baby is enjoying finger foods, you can serve this with strips of lightly toasted bread, or even make some "baby croutons". Simply slice whole wheat bread into strips, then bake in a low oven until dry and hard!
Pumpkin Muffins (for older toddlers and children)
By Jane Baxter, from Everyday and Sunday – Recipes from Riverford Farm
115g unsalted butter
175g dark brown muscovado sugar
115g golden syrup or honey
1 egg, beaten
225g cooked and mashed pumpkin or squash
200g self-raising flour
pinch of sea salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
75g currants or raisins
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Place 12 muffin cases in a muffin tray.
In a large bowl, cream the butter until soft.
Add the sugar and syrup or honey and beat until light and fluffy.
Stir in the egg and pumpkin until well mixed.
Sift over the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Lightly fold these ingredients into the mixture. Stir in the currants or raisins.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases so each is two-thirds full.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 12-15 mins, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.