Cauliflower has become quite popular across the world nowadays, but when it comes to introducing it to babies, parents are confused: Can I give my baby cauliflower?
Most parents don’t have any qualms about feeding their kids vegetables, but they’re a little wary in the beginning, when starting solids for their babies. And even while they’re okay with veggies like carrots and potatoes, there is usually some confusion when it comes to cauliflower.
Cauliflower is a member of the Brassica Oleracea species that includes cabbage, broccoli, collard greens and kale. This vegetable is said to have originated from Asia and spread across Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Spain and northwestern Europe. The major cauliflower producing countries at present are India, China, France and Italy.
In India, cauliflower is mostly grown in Himalayas, Nilgiri hills, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab, and Bihar. There are colored cauliflower which are available in green, purple, yellow and orange. The colored varieties are new hybrids. Green cauliflower is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower and hence called as Broccoflower.
Colored cauliflowers differ in nutrients from white cauliflower, but the taste is not that different. They taste crunchy, sweet and nutty. The orange and purple cauliflower are higher in antioxidants, beta carotene and vitamin A than regular white cauliflower. Cauliflower varieties are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, B-vitamins, folate etc. The edible white fleshy part of the cauliflower is known as “curd” as it has an appearance similar to that of cheese curd.
Health Benefits of Cauliflower
In today’s environment, building immunity is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to nutrition. Vitamin C is crucial for increasing immunity, and 1 cup of cauliflower has approximately 75% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
- Protects against cancer
- Aids digestion
- Helps cognitive development
- Maintains skin health
- Prevents arthritis
- Improves heart health
- Prevents stomach disorders
- Low calorie food for healthy weight
- Prevents cholesterol
- Reduces the risk of diabetes.
Cauliflower is a nutrient rich vegetable that’s high in folate, vitamin A & C, fiber, choline and anti-oxidants, yet, it is not recommended as a baby’s first food. The best time to introduce cauliflower is after 8 months as it might be difficult to digest and could cause gas and bloating. The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months.
To give baby cauliflower, remove the green leaves and separate the florets from the stem. Blanch the florets in hot water for few seconds to remove any worms present . Rinse and then cook till soft before feeding baby.
While not mandatory, it is recommended to follow the 3-day rule when introducing any new food, and starting with a small quantity in the beginning to avoid the risk of food allergies. Cauliflower allergy is not common, but babies who are allergic to broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage may be allergic to cauliflowers. Allergic reactions can be acute, moderate or even severe. If the baby displays symptoms like watery eyes, canker sores around the mouth, itchy rashes, abdominal pain, burning sensation in the mouth, swelling of the face or shortness of breath, he needs to be rushed to the doctor right away.
Tips for Buying and Storing Cauliflower
Choose cauliflowers that have a clean white head. The florets should be firm and tightly packed, and the leaves should be green and fresh. It should feel dense and heavy. Avoid cauliflowers that are yellowing or have any dark spots or patches. Cauliflower leaves should not be floppy if fresh.
Store the cauliflower in the fridge without washing. Wrap in plastic bag with the stem-side down so that the moisture doesn’t get transferred to the florets. Cauliflower can be stored for 3 to 5 days in the fridge.
Wash cauliflowers well after blanching them in hot water. Cauliflowers are said to be reactive with certain metals like aluminum or iron. Cooking cauliflower in these metals can result in discolored cauliflowers due to the reaction.
Healthy Cauliflower Recipes for Babies and Toddlers