Benefits of Pumpkin – So Not Scary!

Monica Blog Leave a Comment

grilled-pumpkin-saladThe fall colors are most likely at their peak up North but here in the Mid-Atlantic things are really just starting to take on that gorgeous golden hue I love so much about this time of year.

Along with the fall weather and colors comes a bevy of healthy and nutritious fruits and veggies including of course, the pumpkin!

The pumpkin has a special place in my heart because it feeds us in so many different ways, as a food of course, but they also feed our creative side as we use them to decorate our homes and gardens.

The thing I love most is to carve out them for Halloween. Not only do we have fun carving them but I take the seeds and the flesh and put those to good use too.

Who knew the humble pumpkin had all these health benefits? To be fair though, as I was growing up we pretty much just ate pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas and that was it. The cool thing is now I have a great, healthy excuse, to have more carved pumpkins around for the holidays…I need more seeds!

Benefits of Pumpkin – How It Helps Us Stay Healthy:

Vitamins:

With vitamins C & E along with iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, beta and alpha carotenoids (the special kind of antioxidants that prevent cell damage) and lutein (that keeps your eyes healthy – all the better to search out the best candy I say).

Protein:

Pumpkin seeds are high in protein which not only makes us feel full for longer, but also requires more calories for our bodies to digest making them a perfect snack.

Organs:

The humble pumpkin and its seeds support your kidneys, bladder and prostate too. I like to toss them in olive oil (although lately I’m on a bit of coconut oil trip, so I may just try that this year) and seasonings – like garlic powder and sea salt, or cinnamon and nutmeg with just a dash of brown sugar for sweetness, then roast them in the oven. They’re super to snack on and I don’t even have to feel guilty!

Preventative:

Almost everyone I know seems to be watching their cholesterol, well guess what, pumpkin can help you with that! The latest research shows among other things pumpkin helps minimize osteoporosis and can improve the health of your digestive tract as the seeds help the body get rid of many parasites, even tapeworms. The seeds also give us those healthy essential fatty acid oils we need.

Ways To Pump-Up Your Pumpkin Intake:

Despite all the good things pumpkin does for us, it’s still kind of a tough “sell” in my house, so here are a few ways I’m getting more pumpkin into everyone, young, old and in-betweens too.

Seeds:

Organic raw pumpkin seeds will give you the most nutrients and enzymes, but you can always roast them too but I just get them from the pumpkins I’m buying to cook or carve.

  • Roasted as a snack – I’m adding pumpkin seeds into trail mix and roasting, a light spray with olive oil, toss with seasonings.
  • Sprinkled raw on top of cereal and yoghurt.
  • Pumpkin Seed Butter pumpkin seed butter (kind of like peanut butter); spread it on bread or toast. Recipe courtesy of www.momables.com.

Cooked:

I did poll a couple of my foodie-lady friends and they who usually to a one, will say fresh is best, all said the flesh is typically too time consuming to prepare yourself, so it’s easiest to just go ahead and use the canned pumpkin for most recipes.

They did say if you’re looking to roast or grill, don’t use carving pumpkins (they typically have wet, stringy flesh and are not recommended for eating). Look instead for a variety that is meant for cooking. The “foodlies” (food ladies) tell me sugar pumpkins and cheese pumpkins are two varieties that are widely available and good for cooking with. Don’t tell the foodlies, but if it doesn’t need to be sliced, personally I’m going for the can… just sayin’!

  • Pie (skip the whipped cream),bread, muffins, cookies, baked chips.
  • Pumpkin Soup – a friend of mine who used to own her own restaurant makes a fantastic pumpkin soup, but she said no-one bought it when she called it plain old pumpkin soup, so she re-named it “Velvety Autumn Squash” and struggled to keep up with the demand! You can find her recipe on minimalistbaker, well worth your time to check out for all types of recipes often with wine pairings and music selections too.
  • Pumpkin Risotto, Chili, Rice, Spaghetti and what I think is my favorite at the moment pumpkin Gnocci!
  • Grilled Pumpkin served with a fresh baby spinach salad, recipe link is courtesy of www.taste.com.us (those Aussies always know how to BBQ). The salad in the photo at the to of the post is rosemary and sea salt grilled pumpkin, servied with endive, spinach, vine ripe tomatoes and red onion, that’s one I like to serve with a good Balsamic Vinagrette.

Want More Pumpkin Recipes?

Right now pumpkin is seasonal, plentiful and relatively cheap and now you know a few more reasons why it’s a good thing to get more pumpkin into your diet. I’m sure you’ve already got most of these covered, but if you’d like some new recipes, leave a comment below, I’ll be happy to share mine and maybe I can get the “Foodlies” to share some of theirs too 🙂

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