Winter has a bad reputation for fresh fruits and veggies.
But while most people spend the coldest months of the year dreaming of fresh summer corn, tomatoes and watermelon, I’m busy roasting, steaming, and simmering some of my favorite produce!
And, for the newest eaters in your family, winter offers some of the best opportunities for healthy homemade baby food. Many winter foods have a nice soft texture when cooked, are naturally sweet, and full of vitamins and minerals. Plus, most winter foods are affordable, stay fresh for a long time, and are adaptable to different herbs and spices.
Why choose seasonal winter foods for your baby? Seasonal foods are fresh, affordable, and full of flavor. Fruits and veggies picked in season are more likely to be picked near where you live, so haven't been shipped halfway around the world. They are fresh, and have better flavor than foods from out of season. Compare the taste of a supermarket tomato bought in January to one bought in July. The one in season (in July) will be juicy, bright red, and full of flavor. The one in January is more than likely going to be a dull red color, starchy, and bland tasting. All foods have a season! Visit CUESA’s guide for seasonal fruits and veggies for a full list!
Making homemade baby food doesn’t have to be hard.
Don’t be fooled by packaged baby food companies. Making your own baby food is easy, affordable, and quick. You don’t need any special equipment. You can make all the puréed food your baby will ever eat in just a few hours. Most babies transition from purées to more solid textures within a few months. Plus, homemade baby food tastes fresh and doesn’t contain preservatives. For more information on making your own baby food, read my 5 Tips to Cooking Healthy Homemade Baby Food.
The best baby foods that winter has to offer.
Here are my picks for winter fruits and veggies that your baby will love. Look at your local farmer’s market for the freshest produce and the greatest variety. Many supermarkets now also feature local foods, which mean they are fresher and help support your local farmers. Have a question about serving these foods for your baby? Send me an email or reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram and I’ll help you out!
Orange, red, yellow, even purple! Carrots are full of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Babies love their sweet taste and will be fascinated by the bright colors. Serve carrots well-cooked, either pureed or cut into long sticks and steamed or roasted for older babies.
While they may sound like a strange pick for babies, mushrooms make an excellent food for your little one! They are full of B vitamins and many minerals, including magnesium, zinc and copper. Serve mushrooms cooked, either pureed with another food (like mashed potatoes or oatmeal), or for older babies, cut into small pieces and roasted, steamed or sautéed.
As a type of cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower contains many different antioxidants that help protect cells. In addition, cauliflower contains vitamin and minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, and Vitamin B6. Serve cauliflower cooked, either pureed, or for older babies, cut into small wedges and steamed or roasted. Keep an eye out, cauliflower also comes in orange, green and purple!
The avocado trend has even hit babies! Avocados are an excellent baby food. They are full of healthy fats, which support brain development, and are full of nutrients like potassium, Vitamin C, B vitamins, fiber, and magnesium. Serve ripe avocados mashed smooth, or as thin wedges. Some parents like to coat their avocado wedges in cracker crumbs or cereal crumbs to make it easier for their baby to pick it up on their own.
5. Winter Squash
There are so many different varieties of winter squash, it may take you several winters just to try them all! From butternut, acorn, kabocha, even pumpkin, they all contain many vitamins and minerals and have a nice sweet flavor that babies love. Winter squash are so easy to cook, just wash them, cut in half, remove the seeds, and roast in a hot oven until the flesh is nice and soft. Serve your baby the cooked, soft squash, or add it to your favorite foods or hot cereal.
As soon as your baby starts to eat finger foods, oranges are a delicious and nutrient-packed fruit that they will surely love! Full of Vitamin C, folate, and thiamine, their juicy and sweet-sour flavor will keep your baby overjoyed. To serve, cut orange segments into small pieces. Remove pits and any tough membranes and stems. If your baby is new to finger foods, you’ll want to peel the membrane off each segment of orange, leaving only the juicy pulp for them to enjoy.
Homemade applesauce is so easy to prepare, and will fill your house with the smells of winter-time baking. Wash and peel your apples, cut into chunks, and steam them in a pot with a small amount of water. Once they are soft, use a blender of food processor to make a smooth sauce. Add your favorite seasonings like cinnamon, cloves, or cardamom. Experiment with different varieties of apples, each one has it’s own unique flavor.
Like apples, pears make a wonderful homemade sauce that your baby will love! Prepare pear sauce the same way as applesauce, or try a twist of apples and pears with your favorite spices. For older babies, serve soft ripe pears peeled and cut into small pieces.
Just because broccoli has a bad reputation with kids, don’t assume your baby won’t like it. Many babies are fascinated by the tiny little florets, and the bumpy and smooth texture of the stem. To serve broccoli, you can steam and puree it with another food like potatoes or beans. For older babies, steam or roast small wedges of broccoli for your baby to enjoy. If serving this way, peel or discard the stems, they can be tough for babies to chew.
10. Sweet Potato
Another practically perfect baby food, sweet potatoes are full of nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6, potassium, and magnesium. Be on the lookout for different varieties of sweet potatoes, like purple, red, and white. Serve sweet potatoes steamed and mashed, or for older babies, peel and roast thin wedges in a hot oven until soft.
While this root vegetable may look weird, rutabagas are simply a cross between cabbage and turnip. They are full of nutrients like Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. To serve, steam and mash until smooth, just like a potato. As your baby gets older, they’ll love small rutabaga pieces steamed or roasted!