When fall rolls around, I can’t seem to steer my mind away from all-things pumpkin. Just this week I was busy at work in the kitchen, dreaming up new pumpkin recipes to share with family and friends. While most assume that pumpkin is high in calories because it’s most often found in pumpkin pie, pumpkin seeds and fruit are actually incredibly healthy and often overlooked as an important source of vitamins and minerals. Here we take a look at the abundance of health benefits this fall fruit provides, as well as methods for preparing it with five delicious and healthy recipes.
Health benefits: Both pumpkin seeds and fruit are two super foods that you don’t want to miss out on this fall. Pumpkins are loaded with good-for-for you vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, C and E, which promote healthy, glowing skin among other important health benefits. They’re also high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, and lutein, which can improve eye health. In addition, pumpkins contain plenty of beta carotene, which have anti-inflammatory properties; and antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body and help prevent cancer.
Other surprising health benefits? Pumpkins can promote better bone density and digestion and even lower cholesterol. They’ve also been found to help prevent prostate cancer, kidney stones and even depression.
Nutritional statistics: One cup of pumpkin puree contains approximately 49 calories, 0 grams of fat, 12 g of carbohydrates, 3 g of fiber, 2 g of sugar and 2 g of protein.
Cooking methods: Pumpkins can be cooked a number of ways, the most common being roasted, which yields the puree we find in our favorite fall treats. To roast a pumpkin simply wash and remove the stem and slice into equal halves. Then remove the seeds and “strings” and place flesh down in a large baking dish and roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size. The pumpkin should be tender on the inside. Once cooked, simply scoop into a sealed container and store in the refrigerator to keep fresh for 3-5 days.
Once you have the puree, you can do any number of things, including adding it to icy treats like ice cream and frozen yogurt, comforting dishes like soups and pastas, and healthy staples such as oatmeal, whole wheat muffins and smoothies. Branch out and try more adventurous ways to enjoy pumpkin, starting with these five delicious and healthy recipes.
October 14th, 2012