“I would rather sit alone on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
Henry David Thoreau
Pumpkin is technically a fruit. That is because of the section of the plant the pumpkin comes from. The fruit of a plant is that part that develops from the flower and also the part that contains the seeds. So, like the avocado and the corn kernel, the pumpkin is a fruit. Vegetables include edible plant matter such as lettuce from plant leaves, celery from stems and parsnips from roots.
Pumpkin in all its forms should be enjoyed year round. Pumpkin is not just for jack-o’-lanterns and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving any more. The pumpkin is highly nutritious; it is low in glycemic load, GL (a low-GL diet has been associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease).
Pumpkin is a very good source of Vitamin A (as beta-carotene), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Copper, Manganese and Potassium.
It is also a good source of Folate (Vitamin B9), Iron, Magnesium, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Phosphorus, Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) and Thiamine (Vitamin B1).
All of the B Vitamins help convert carbohydrates into fuel for the body. So not only does the pumpkin provides a good source of carbohydrates but also the B vitamins to help utilize them.
The orange meat of the pumpkin is loaded with the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which help prevent age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of adult blindness.
The information above pertains to the fruit of the pumpkin. The pumpkin seeds or pepitas are also very nutritious and can be enjoyed roasted or raw, in the shell or hulled. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, healthy fats and magnesium, zinc as well as other trace minerals.
We especially enjoy pumpkin puree, making our own when the fresh fruit is available. It is a simple process:
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Halve the pumpkin
- Scoop out seeds (reserve) and fiber strands
- Bake for 1 hour and let cool for 45 minutes
- Remove the pulp and process until smooth
May be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen up to 3 months
We use the puree in oatmeal, soups, smoothies and other recipes.
Here is one of our favorites:
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 large frozen banana
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon organic raw manuka honey
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 1/2 tsp. organic vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Drink and Enjoy!
March is Nutrition Awareness Month, Pay attention to what you eat, chew your food and enjoy the health benefits of all the natural goodness around you.