October 15th, 2009
It’s pumpkin time!! And this year, I’m even more appreciative of the tasty gourd than usual. See, last month I was asked to write an article on healthy Halloween treats for babies and toddlers (I’ll link to it as soon as its live!) and I could not find pumpkin puree anywhere. Apparently, it’s only available for a limited time every year. So, the minute I could get my hands on some, I grabbed several cans of pumpkin puree.
I’m not usually one for canned vegetables, but canned pumpkin puree is easy to find without anything added. Just the pure stuff. Yes, it’s heat treated in the canning process, but that doesn’t impact flavor as much as it does other veggies. Nutrition may be impacted, but it’s a tradeoff I often make for convenience—pumpkin is not easy to deal with. (Though, when you have the time, using fresh pumpkin is worth it and reduces waste by using decorative pumpkins that would otherwise end up in the garbage.)
I’m easing into the pumpkin extravaganza slowly this year. Bread, pies, muffins, and hearty stews will surely follow in the coming months but, for now, I used my puree to make a quick and tasty cream cheese spread that can be shared with kids as young as 10+ mos.
This spread turns an ordinary bagel—a kid (and parent!) favorite that, sadly, has little nutritional benefit—into a treat with an unexpected dose of veggie. It can also be spread on pancake and waffles for breakfast, between crackers for a snack, on toast topped with apples for dessert… the possibilities are endless. You can also substitute sweet potato puree (which also comes canned, but is super easy to make from scratch) to give an even bigger nutritional boost.
Pumpkin Walnut Cream Cheese
(can be adapted for kids 10+ mos)
8 oz organic cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp organic maple syrup
1/2 c organic pumpkin puree, no added flavor (you can substitute sweet potato puree)
2 tsp organic cinnamon
1/4 tsp organic vanilla
1/2 c organic walnuts, finely chopped*
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly mixed and cream cheese is smooth. Serve or store in fridge for up to a week.
*Note: There is a lot of disagreement about when it’s safest to introduce tree nuts. Some pediatricians (and I) believe that it is safe to introduce nuts to children without other food allergies or family history of food allergies at 12 months. Others encourage parents to wait until 24 or 36 months. Speak to your pediatrician about what’s best for your child.