Pumpkin is an in-season favourite of mine—I love the colour, flavour and the versatility of this great vegetable. To be botanically correct, pumpkin is actually a fruit, but we usually eat it like a vegetable. It has been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. Pumpkin type seeds, dating back to 7000 to 5500BC, were found in Mexico. (1.)
Nutritional benefits of pumpkin
- An excellent source of vitamin A.
- One cup cooked provides more than your daily requirement for vitamin A.
- High in beta-carotene.
- Beta-carotene not only gives pumpkin its vibrant orange colour, it is an antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A in the body.
- Moderate source of vitamin C and potassium.
Coloured fruits and vegetables of all varieties reduce our risk for a number of lifestyle conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Additional ways pumpkin and other coloured vegetables and fruit contribute to good health, as part of a balanced and healthy way of eating include, blood pressure regulation, eye health and strengthening of the immune system.
From an Eastern perspective, pumpkin is described as being a sweet (nourishing) warm to hot food (2.,3.,4). As part of a well-balance eating pattern and lifestyle it:
- Builds Qi (energy reserves).
- Alleviates inflammation.
- Reduce pain.
- Helps to eliminate toxins, by strengthening the liver and kidneys. (3., 4.)
Ten Delicious Ways to Enjoy Pumpkin
- Soup—this is my number one choice—eaten freshly made or it can be refrigerated or frozen and it stores very well. You may like to try my pumpkin soup recipe
- Roasted mixed vegetables—chunky pieces of pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, carrot and beetroot baked create a colourful and very flavoursome part of your meal. There is no need to remove the peel from your vegetables, but make sure you wash and scrub them well prior to cutting and baking.
- Mashed—may be mashed alone or with potato to provide a vegetable serve or use the mash in a vegetable bake or on top of a baked meat dish such as Shepherds Pie.
- Add to a stir-fry—thinly slice and add it to your vegetable mix. Or add small cubes of pre-roasted pumpkin to your meal once it is served.
- Add to a curry—small pieces can be added raw and cooked in a curry or casserole—adding great colour and texture.
- Roast and add to a salad—roasted pumpkin adds warmth and colour to a salad.
- Dip—spicy pumpkin dip—teams well with Moroccan or Indian spices to make a simple yet very tasty dip.
- Roast the seeds—you can bake them with a little olive oil or add some spice. You may like to try spicy seeds as a snack, or bake them plain to add to your breakfast, mixed nuts or as a topping on desserts and salads.
- Muffins—replace apple or banana in a recipe, adding natural sweetness and moisture.
- Pie—Pumpkin Pie is a traditional part of a Thanksgiving meal in America.
Buying and storing pumpkins
We have just harvested our pumpkins and our varieties will store well until spring. Most varieties are available all year round.
- Select unblemished pumpkins.
- Pumpkins store better whole, rather than cut. Store whole ones in a cool ventilated space.
- Cut pumpkin requires refrigeration, and will store up to 5 days.
Try Something New
If one of my ten top tips is new for you, then I encourage you to try it. I haven’t roasted my own pumpkin seeds before, so this is something that I am going to experiment with. I will keep you posted on my efforts. Please post any comments or questions below.
- Wikipedia Pumpkin
- Amadea Morningstar with Urmila Desai, The Ayurvedic Cookbook: A Personalized Guide to Good Nutrition and Health, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi 2005
- Bob Flaws, The Tao of Healthy Heating: Dietary Wisdom According to Chinese Medicine, Blue Poppy Press Colorado 2007
- Clinical Research Department Men-Tse-Kahang, Tibetan Medical Dietary Book: Vol – 1, 2006