Fall Favorite: Pumpkin

Fall Favorite: Pumpkin

Though you might automatically think of lattes and Jack-o-lanterns, it’s in fact a seasonal favorite with more weight than just cultural tradition. Pumpkin is also also a nutritional powerhouse!

The orange squash is woven into the fabric of history and cuisine. It’s mentioned in literature, including Shakespeare’s reference to “pumpion” in The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Native Americans roasted long strips of pumpkin over an open flame and ate them.

Colonists made pumpkin pie by slicing off the pumpkin top; removing the seeds; filling the rind with milk, spices, and honey; and then baking the pumpkin over hot ashes.

Pumpkin seeds are dried and salted to make a tasty snack.

And of course we can’t forget that the vibrant fruit (yes it’s a fruit! weird since we typically think of squash as a vegetable) is of course a staple in the Halloween decor department.

So in honor of October and pumpkin everything season, we’ll learn more about this seasonal favorite and the abundance of nutrients and its versatility in healthy meal preparation.

All About Pumpkin

A member of the Cucurbitaceae family (along with cucumber and squash), pumpkin is cultivated around the world for both its fleshy vibrant orange meat and seeds. It is a naturally low calorie (49 calories per one cup serving), yet full of filling fiber.

Health Benefits

  • Pumpkin contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. It is rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and many antioxidant vitamins, including A, C, and E.
  • It is also an excellent source of many natural polyphenolic flavonoid compounds such as beta-carotenes (which convert into vitamin A when activated in the body), lutein, and zeaxanthin (a natural antioxidant that may offer protection from age-related macular disease).
  • Pumpkin is a good source of the B-complex group of vitamins including niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
  • It is a rich source of copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
  • Practically the whole fruit is edible. Pumpkin seeds provide dietary fiber and pack a powerful mix of protein, minerals, and vitamins: 100 g (1 cup) of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 g of protein, plus folate, iron, niacin, selenium, and zinc.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from Bon Appétit Fast, Easy and Fresh cookbook

Yield: 2 loaves (cut ingredients in half for 1 loaf)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Butter and flour two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans

Ingredients:

  • 1½ c. all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour mix)
  • 1½ c. whole wheat flour (or gluten-free flour mix)
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 c. raw sugar (or raw honey)
  • 1 c. sunflower oil
  • 3 large eggs (room temp)
  • 15 oz. (1 can) pure pumpkin (watch out for added sugar)
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Sift first eight ingredients into a large bowl. In second bowl, beat sugar and oil to blend, and then add eggs and pumpkin. Mix well. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture in two additions, just until blended. Add nuts, if you’re feeling nutty!

Divide between loaf pans. Bake approximately 1 hour 10 minutes, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer to racks and cool in pans for 10 minutes. Cut around sides of pan with a knife to loosen. Turn loaves onto rack to cool, serve and enjoy!

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