My baby’s favorite puree is made of chayote.
Are you having visions of the Road Runner and Wiley E. Coyote, wondering how I got my hands on coyote meat? Let me say up front that, no, I didn’t misspell “coyote”!
Chayote is a green vegetable that looks somewhat like a pear. The bottom reminds me of the way a mouth with no teeth puckered. I have only seen chayote in the supermarket, and imagined it grows on trees. I even caught myself humming “…and a partridge and a pear tree..” while making my selection in the produce aisle.
I was completely wrong about the tree. Chayote is part of the gourd family, like squash, zucchini, and pumpkin…which brings visions of Charlie Brown calling out to the Great Chayote. Except that chayote is much smaller than a pumpkin, and would not work for carving at Halloween.
It can be eaten raw, but I have always boiled it. The root, stem, seed, and leaves are all edible. I have eaten the soft, flat, cooked seed, which tastes pretty good. One important tip to maximize your enjoyment of the chayote is to cut away the puckered part at the bottom, because it is has a stringy, fibrous quality that extends into the vegetable. I think this is where the seed is preparing to sprout.
To prepare as a baby puree, boil the chayote. After boiling, peel the skin. Then put your knife along the puckered bottom and cut through to the top. You’ll go right through the soft seed. Cut away the stringy part. Cut it in large chunks. Blend. Yummy!
The puree has a consistency similar to applesauce, but perhaps more watery. You can also add a smaller quantity of green zucchini, carrots, butternut squash, etc. Test different proportions to see what your baby likes.
Are you wondering how I came up with the idea to feed chayote to my baby? Well, it wasn’t my idea. It was my husband’s. He is from Mexico and this is one of the first foods that they feed babies there.
Chayote is a good source of amino acids and vitamin C, as well as niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin K, zinc, copper and manganese.
After 7 months of breastfeeding, I started out following doctor’s orders. I gave the baby rice cereal as his first solid food, three times a day. The result was that he became constipated. After four days without a poopie diaper (which was unheard of for him), we ditched the rice cereal and went for the chayote. Once his poopie diapers came back, we gave him cereal again, but changed to oatmeal instead of the rice.
Now the baby is 10 months old and eating a wider variety of solid foods, while continuing to breastfeed. Whenever he shows signs of difficult straining to poop, or when his stools look hard and he has a sore red bottom, I again go back to chayote puree. The baby still eats it with enthusiasm, and it works every time.