Pumpkins are the giants of the squash family, nutritionally and by weight.
They are very rich in beta carotene and also contain vitamin C, folate (a B vitamin), a little calcium and iron, and some fiber. They are also very low in calories, about 80 per cup.
Despite its frequent use as a dessert ingredient, pumpkin is not just a healthy food, but a superfood. Its deep orange flesh is a dead giveaway that the pumpkin is rich in beta carotene, now known to be a major factor in helping prevent both cancer and heart disease.
Canned pumpkin is as nutritious as fresh pumpkin, but more convenient and a great option for busy people. Of course, this means using plain pumpkin puree, and not the premixed pie filling.
If you’re looking to add more fiber to your diet, pumpkin is a tasty, simple choice. One mere half cup of cooked pumpkin has five grams of fiber; more than an apple, most bread, and an entire cup of Cracklin' Oat Bran cereal.
Here are a few suggestions for alternative ways to increase your pumpkin consumption:
Want “pumpkin pie” for breakfast? Combine pureed or canned pumpkin to your morning oatmeal and you can double the fiber in your breakfast. For pumpkin-flavored pancakes, add canned puree to the batter (also add to batter for bread, muffins, and rolls.)
Pumpkin soup is a fall favorite. Combine canned pumpkin with fat-free chicken or beef stock. For added flavor, mince onions, carrots, celery, or other vegetables and cook them in the stock before adding the pumpkin, a cup or two of skim milk, and seasonings. Curry powder, thyme, and cumin are compatible flavorings.
If you prefer fresh pumpkin over canned, buy smaller pumpkins and use them in winter squash recipes. Split them, bake them, and eat them out of the shell. Microwave peeled, diced pumpkin. Diced pumpkin combines well with rice, pasta, or boiled potatoes.
What should you do with all those pumpkin seeds from your carved pumpkins? Roast and enjoy them as a savory snack! If you prefer, sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar over the pumpkin seeds.
Don’t miss Healthy Monday’s “Make-It Monday” cooking demonstration featuring “Name That Squash!” on October 22nd, 12–12:30 p.m., Cavs Corner Action Station.
Join a talented Dining Services Chef to learn delicious, healthy options in the kitchen, with tasty samples, too!
For more information on this event, please contact the Office of Health and Wellness Education at email@example.com or visit www.cabrini.edu/wellness.