It Is Pumpkin Time

PumpkinIt is Pumpkin Time, Charlie Brown, but this year we are going to look at it as the Super Food it really is. So it you will make a visit to the Great Pumpkin Patch, and gather up a few of those beauties we will discover that carving scary faces in them or making pie with them are only two of many options available

Thinking of pumpkin as a nutritious super food can be a bit puzzling at first..  After all, isn’t the image that comes to mind sweet and smooth and covered in whipped cream?  But, according to nutritionists, we should be thinking of   file0002094693378pumpkin more often than during the annual Charlie Brown cartoon or as a delicious         way to top off a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner.

Pumpkin is a vegetable, regardless of those images. In fact, pumpkin is a nutrient-rich super food that has a great number of health benefits. Let’s take a look at why pumpkin should demand more respect at the table

A Well-Rounded Vegetable

The list of nutrients in pumpkin is almost endless. Starting with the basic vitamins and minerals we all know, pumpkin has a healthy amount of vitamins C and E, and is a rich source of  potassium and magnesium. Pumpkin is also right up there with other super foods in the dietary fiber category.

Pumpkin also contains two lesser known elements called carotenoids, which are alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. These carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds that are specifically linked to decreasing the risk of a number of cancers, as well as lowering the risk for heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Beta carotene is an important antioxidant. Foods rich in beta carotene, like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots, have the potential to lower cholesterol and to slow the aging process of our vital organs. Antioxidant rich foods, like pumpkin, are key to fighting the free radicals which attack our healthy cells.

file6401261247209And, it’s not just the flesh, the insides, of the pumpkin that is healthy. The seeds from the pumpkin also earn their super food status. These seeds, or pepitas, are also nutrient-rich and beneficial, containing high concentrations of phosphorous, zinc, copper, selenium, and other nutrients. The seeds also have essential Omega 3 fatty acids and even the amino acid typtophan, known for its anti-depressant benefits. So, as you see, the pumpkin has a lot more to offer than you might think.

Thinking Outside the Pie Pan

Of course, pumpkin is associated first with pie. Beyond pie, many folks know about making pumpkin muffins or cake. These are great and delicious, but trying to branch out into more pumpkin dishes takes a little more imagination.

But, first to clarify; no, pumpkin does not taste like pumpkin pie. That flavor comes from the spices used in the pie, like nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Because pumpkin basically has very little flavor of its own, it will taste like whatever you want it to taste like.

Pumpkin is truly versatile enough to go into soup, chowder, stews, casseroles, and other main dishes.  You can puree pumpkin and add to soups as a thickener and to add great fiber and nutrition. Try roasting pumpkin and mashing like you would any squash. Flavor with herbs, salt, and pepper for added taste. You can steam it, boil it, or puree it to use in a variety of other recipes, like pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. The seeds, of course, can be roasted in a number of ways, then added to cereal, trail mix, or salads.

For a real different twist, and a very pretty presentation, scoop out the flesh from several small pumpkins, chop up and add to your choice of meat, vegetables, rice or bread cubes, and seasonings. Then stuff the pumpkin shells with the mixture and bake to make an entrée that your guests won’t soon forget. ( I suggest a good sausage, veggies of choice and file0001506946865brown rice plus seasonings of your choice )

Pumpkin has definitely earned its place among the top super foods for a healthy diet. Colorful, nutritious, delicious, and oh so versatile – all the things a super food should be! So now, It Is Pumpkin Time in your house?

If you like cooking with spices, my book Spices In The Kitchen can be found on Amazon, at: http://chefwilliamlikes.me/Spices In The Kitchen. and contains information on spices as well as recipes.

CHEF WILLIAM ColorEat Healthy, Laugh Often and Enjoy Life~

Healthy Food choices

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3 Responses to It Is Pumpkin Time

  1. Love pumpkin and cannot wait to get to grips with ours later on today. Wonderful information too and some great alternative suggestions.
    Anita-Clare Field recently posted..All Hallows Eve – Pumpkin Soup With Pancetta & ChestnutsMy Profile

  2. Amy
    Twitter:
    says:

    It’s so much fun to see how I can work lots of pumpkin into my recipes this time of year, Chef. It’s so good made into pumpkin butter, of course it’s just made for PIE with whipped cream, and there are lots of good soup recipes too. I grow a few in my garden every year, but next year I hope to grow lots, because they’re really a good storage crop, too. Great post and I learned lots from it!
    Amy recently posted..The Ultimate Blog Challenge lessons, and a lightning strike!My Profile

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