Winter squash is a favorite in our household this time of year, with acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash abound. Kids and adults love it for its bright color and sweet and earthy flavor! Many families like it with a lot of sweetness added, such as brown sugar and cinnamon, but it’s actually tasty in savory dishes too. Plus, they’re packed with nutrients that are crucial to the pregnant mama and the toddler alike.
It's high in vitamin C and Vitamin A that support healthy immunity, which expecting moms need extra of. For toddlers, try using vanilla extract, grated citrus zest, spices like ground nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves or herbs such as tarragon, rosemary and thyme. Below are a few of my favorite family- friendly squash recipes -- also suitable for (and loved by) children. Enjoy!
Winter Squash Fries with Hummus, (10 months old & up).
Winter squash makes tasty bite-size fries, and your baby will love dipping them in the flavorful chickpea dip. It’s a high-fiber treat with lots of nutrients, perfect for growing bodies and grasping fingers!
Ingredients (Makes 4 servings):
1 cup acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ¼-inch matchsticks
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. sweet paprika
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
1 tbsp. tahini
1 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. grated lemon zest
1 small garlic clove, peeled
For the fries: Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and toss to mix. Place the squash fries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the squash starts to brown and is tender, about 15 min. Store any extra fries in the fridge for up to 3 days.
For the Hummus: In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Store any in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Protein Power Smoothie, (10 months old & up).
This recipe calls for just a few ounces of tofu to pack in the protein without affecting the taste. The sweet banana pairs well with the butternut squash delivering a tasty and healthy blend for you and your little one.
6 oz. milk
2 ounces tofu
2 (1-ounce) freezer tray cubes butternut squash puree, thawed
½ banana, peeled
½ tsp. ground ginger
In a blender, combine all the ingredients. Process until smooth.
Turkey and Squash Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce, 10 months old & up.
Winter squash, sage and cranberries give these meatballs a tasty fall flavor. Turkey is a great source of protein for your baby, and the squash is loaded with Vitamin A, which supports your baby’s developing eyesight.
For the Meatballs:
8 oz. ground turkey
¼ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
¼ onion, grated
½ cup grated winter squash (acorn or butternut)
½ tsp. dried sage
For the Sauce:
2 (1-ounce) freezer tray cubes cranberry puree, thawed
¼ cup plain, full-fat yogurt
Pinch dried sage
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with Parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix until well combined. Formed mixture into ½-inch balls and place them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freezer for 6 months.
For the Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a spoon. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
White Bean + Butternut Squash Stew, 12 months old & up.
Hearty and comforting, this is a family-friendly stew to warm everyone up on a cool winter night. To save some prep time, purchase frozen organic butternut squash chunks and thaw 2 cups overnight in the refrigerator.
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
½ butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can white beans, drained
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
½ tsp. dried rosemary
¼ tsp. sea salt
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and butternut squash. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans, tomatoes, rosemary and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Store unoffered portions in the refrigerator for up to 3 day or in the freezer for 6 months.
You can find these recipes, and many more, in Stephanie Middleberg's book, "The Big Book of Organic Baby Food."