Squash is one of the undersung heroes of baby superfoods. Packed with vitamins and minerals, the easy-to-prepare ingredient also boasts the ability to survive for months in the pantry―in case getting to the store with a baby is, you know, a challenge. And thanks to their versatility in flavor and texture, it’s a squash that’s easy to prepare a variety of ways for every member of your family. Here’s what you need to know about butternut squash for babies or toddlers.
What is butternut squash?
This winter squash is probably best known for its tan rind, sweet orange inside, and signature bell shape. Because of its thicker skin, butternut squash can be stored for many months (AKA, through the long winter) in a cool dry place in your home. As a result, they’re typically available year-round and can be roasted into cubes, blended into soups, or mashed into casseroles (just to name a few ideas!). If you like pumpkin, odds are you will dig butternut squash as well.
What are the health benefits of butternut squash?
Butternut squash is packed with way more than just that signature scoop of seeds. Some of the nutrients include fiber; vitamins A,C,E, and B; calcium; magnesium; and zinc. Impressed yet? Here are four ways butternut squash can bolster your health:
Boost eye health
Packing a hefty dose of carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein, butternut squash are powerhouses when it comes to protecting your eye health. Additionally, Vitamin A aids in healthy cell renewal for eye protection over time―and just one cup contains over 350 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Your peepers never looked so good.
A stronger immune system
Beta-carotene (common in yellow and orange produce) supports the immune system, while Vitamin A also helps prevent infections. And butternut squash also contains a dose of Vitamin C, which can help prevent further complications if you do catch a bug.
Helps keep you regular
With almost seven grams of fiber in a single cup of butternut, each serving goes a long way in maintaining a healthy digestive tract and preventing constipation. Might want to stock up on more diapers now.
Strengthens your bones
Move over milk―there’s a new bone strengthening superstar in the grocery store. Butternut contains about 17 percent of the recommended daily allowance of manganese to help maintain a healthy bone structure and assist in calcium absorption. Plus, Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen for stronger bone mass.
What about butternut squash for babies?
Thumbs up, butternut! Butternut squash is popular amongst baby food recipes. On top of providing a host of health benefits, you might even find that your baby wants to eat this powerhouse orange squash thanks to the sweet, slightly nutty taste. What’s that? Produce your kid will ask for? We told you this squash was super.
What is the best way to feed butternut squash to my baby?
Like pumpkin, butternut squash for babies can be served in a variety of ways thanks to its texture. If your baby is still eating purees, steam or boil the flesh of the squash (after peeling) and then puree to the desired consistency using a food processor or blender. (Tip: If you’re making a big batch of squash puree, use the rest to create a soup your whole family will love.) When your child is ready for finger foods, serve peeled and cubed butternut roasted in the oven or sautéed with a bit of avocado oil. Thanks to the mild taste, butternut can be seasoned to suit a sweet or savory palate, so break out your favorite herbs and spices. The small pieces will be easy for your tiny human to chew―even if they only have a couple of teeth―because they mash easily between the gums.
When it comes to butternut squash for babies, it’s beneficial to mix in other superfood ingredients to your squash puree or finger food for palate training. For example, Raised Real, a plant-based baby and toddler food subscription service, adds healthy fats and spices to their butternut squash meals. Feeding your baby a variety of ingredients also ensures that they get all the nutrients they need. Some of Raised Real’s meals include Butternut Squash + Banana + White Quinoa + Cardamom + Coconut Milk as well as Butternut Squash + Pear + Ground Pumpkin Seeds + Nutmeg + Coconut Butter. The best part? The meals are delivered to your door and are ready to serve in minutes.
By, Justine Lorelle LoMonaco