This Mashed Butternut Squash recipe with quinoa is a perfect food to help your baby or toddler transition from purees to more complicated textures. And it’s a delicious side dish for everyone at the table too!
Mashed Butternut Squash Recipe
With the holidays approaching, I’ve been trying to plan out menus that include a handful of foods that everyone at the table can enjoy. I know that my older daughter will have plenty of options at Thanksgiving, but I thought I’d add something specifically for the littler one.
Related to that, a friend recently asked me for advice about transitioning her brand new one-year-old to more table foods, and away from purees. Purees are so easy for little ones to eat and as parents, they don’t bring near as many concerns about choking. But it’s important for older babies and toddlers to learn to eat foods with a variety of textures since they need a chance to practice developing all of their motor skills—including the ones in their mouths. Plus, research has found that introducing lumpier textures by the time babies hit about 9 months can lead to a wider range of accepted foods for years to come.
Transition Foods for Babies
All of that said, the choking concern can be paralyzing for many parents—and it’s possible to simply feel like your toddler is stuck on purees. Today’s recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa is one of my favorite transition foods. Actually, this basic method is a go-to of mine for all sorts of baby and early toddler meals: Combine a pureed fruit or veggie with a grain and boom, a nutritious meal is served! It’s smooth, but still textured, so a little one can practice moving more complicated mixture in their mouth (without parental concerns about choking).
Healthy Holiday Side Dish
Plus, it has the benefit of being super delicious for the whole family, and a seasonally appropriate side dish for Thanksgiving. Try the puree on it’s own (it’s seriously delicious) or mix in some quinoa or another whole grain that you like. (Millet, rice, couscous, or even orzo would be great.) Serve it right away or make it ahead and pull it out for a quick meal.
Nutritionally, the puree with a grain has vitamins A and C from the squash, vegetarian protein from the quinoa, fiber, and fat from the coconut milk—which is good for providing balanced energy and fueling proper brain development.
Try this as a transition food for an older baby or a healthy side dish for a family meal.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
- 4 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash (about 1 medium)
- 1/4–1/3 cup light or full-fat canned coconut milk
- 1 cup fully cooked quinoa
- Salt, optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the oil and the squash together and spread onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 26-28 minutes or until very soft.
- Remove from oven and transfer squash to a blender with 1/4 cup coconut milk, adding more as needed to make a thick puree.
- Stir squash mixture together with the quinoa, taste and add salt if desired, and serve warm.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm slightly to serve.
- Prepare quinoa according to package directions, which is usually a 1:2 quinoa to water ratio.
- Be sure that your quinoa is totally cooked through and very soft for the best results.
- You can use store-bought butternut squash puree (either the kind in a can from the baking aisle or the kind from a baby food pouch) if desired.
- Roast the squash and prepare the quinoa up to 3 days ahead of time if desired.
- You can offer this on a preloaded spoon, directly on a highchair tray, or let the baby or toddler practice self feeding with a spoon and a small bowl.
- Sprinkle with a little cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice) to add a pleasant warm note.
- Sprinkle on a little ground cumin for a Mexican nod.
- Grate in a little fresh ginger or a sprinkle of dried to add a zing of flavor.