Spinach for Baby
Spinach is among the world’s healthiest vegetables and ranks very high when compared to other veggies and their nutrient content. This tender, leafy green is rich in vitamins and minerals and is concentrated in phytonutrients that provide our bodies with powerful antioxidant protection. In just one cooked cup of spinach we are getting 987% of our daily recommended intake (DRI) of vitamin K, and 105% of our DRI of vitamin A! It’s also rich in calcium and a great alternative to animal-based dairy products. In addition to helping our bodies fight oxidative stress, spinach helps protect us from inflammatory problems, cardiovascular disease, bone issue and certain cancers (especially prostate cancer). Unlike other vegetables containing phytonutrients, researchers have identified more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds in spinach that help keep inflammation and cancer at bay, making it a perfect food to introduce to kiddo and baby early on. Spinach can be served as a puree for baby, or steamed or served raw for kiddos. Spinach can be rather stringy once cooked, so serving it blended into a smoothie or puree is probably the safest bet for younger kiddos!
Highlighted Nutritional Importance of Spinach
Vitamin K – spinach contains 987% of our recommended daily intake of Vitamin K! This vitamin is vital for the blood clotting process and a healthy skeletal system
Vitamin A – important for a healthy immune system, skin, eyes and bone health
Folate – this B vitamin supports a healthy brain and nervous system
Vitamin C – helps support baby’s immune system, mucous membranes and respiratory system
Vitamin E – a potent antioxidant that boosts the immune system and helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
Manganese – this potent antioxidant helps to form baby’s bones and healthy cartilage and helps protect cells from damage
Magnesium – necessary for the body’s bone and skeletal health and important in regulating energy production within the cell
Potassium – another electrolyte mineral that supports healthy cardiovascular function and kidney function
Iron – this blood-building nutrient enhances the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood bells
Calcium – regulates bone growth and skeletal development and plays a critical role in hormone production
How to Select and Store Spinach for Baby Food
According to the EWG, spinach is #8 on the Dirty Dozen List, meaning it’s a good idea to purchase organic in order to avoid excessive exposure to harmful pesticides.
When purchasing, choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, be free from wilting, bruising or a slimy coating. Avoid washing spinach before storing since the water encourages spoiling. Place the unwashed spinach in a large baggie and squeeze out as much air as possible then place in the refrigerator where it will last for up to 5 days. Your grocery store may have bagged spinach, and this is a great pre-washed option. Purchasing frozen spinach is a convenient option as well, and will yield a much larger amount than fresh.
Preparing spinach for baby is easy. You can either steam the spinach, or boil for about 1 minute to create a softer texture and a sweeter taste. After the spinach is cooked, puree with fresh water until it reaches the desired consistency. Pureed spinach can be eaten on its own or added to other sweet or savory purees for a big nutritional boost!
Recipes Using Spinach
- Apple + Spinach + Pea Puree
- Oats + Spinach + Avocado Puree
- Plum + Blueberry + Spinach Puree with Cilantro
- Strawberry Field – Strawberry + Spinach + Chives Puree with Barley
- Leek + Asparagus + Spinach Mini Quiche
- Kale + Spinach + Apple Quesadilla
- Healthy Spinach + Artichoke Pizza
- Leek + Spinach + Parsley Cream Cheese Spread
- Mini Chicken + Carrot Meatballs with Spinach
- Toddler Smoothie – Blueberry + Spinach with Flax Seeds