Written by Julie Paiva, CHHC
During the crisp autumn months, pumpkins pop up everywhere — on our porches, in shop windows, and at the local farmers market. When you think about pumpkins, what comes to mind? Fall decorations? Jack-o’-lanterns? Thanksgiving pie? Pumpkin spice lattes? Pumpkin muffins? Well, there’s more to the orange pulp in these gourds than carvings, sugary desserts and drinks.
Pumpkin is more than just a fall flavor. Pumpkin is a type of squash. Though they are technically a fruit, they are usually considered a vegetable. Pumpkins have an impressive nutrient profile. Besides being packed with vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is also relatively low in calories, as its 94% water. Pumpkin is very high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A. They also contain other antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. Pumpkin is high in vitamins A and C, and has a supply of vitamin E, iron and folate. These are great supporters of the immune system. It is also a good source of fiber and potassium. The fiber helps to keep you feeling fuller longer.
Pumpkins were essential to the Aztec and Mayan diets thousands of years ago. And early Native Americans ate pumpkin flesh to help them survive the long winters. They also ate pumpkin seeds and used them as medicine. When pilgrims came to America, pumpkin became a critical and nutritious food for them as well. Without pumpkins, many of the early settlers might not have survived.
Bright orange pumpkins are popular symbols of fall, but pumpkins are much more than something to carve or serve in a pie. There are many ways pumpkin can be incorporated into desserts, soups, salads, preserves, and even as a substitute for butter. Pumpkin, once sliced and cut, can be easily roasted, puréed into soup or baked into pies. Its seeds are also edible and highly nutritious. Make sure to avoid pumpkin-based junk foods, as they are often packed with added sugar. Pumpkins are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, pumpkin is incredibly healthy. Try incorporating pumpkin into your diet today to reap its health benefits.
Marpe has some yummy pumpkin recipes; Pumpkin Maple Muffins, Paleo Pumpkin Loaf, Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies, Pumpkin Pancakes, Pumpkin Pecan Breakfast Muffins, Pumpkin Pie, Spiced Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup, They are easy to make, full of nutritional benefits, and tasty!