Posted 1 year ago

The Power of Pumpkin

It’s October! Which means time for pumpkins and Christmas Decorations

Is it a fruit or a vegetable?  It’s technically a fruit since it contains seeds, yet in terms of nutrition, it is a vegetable.  Besides their use for Jack O Lanterns and Thanksgiving desserts, pumpkins are an incredibly nutrient dense food. This means is loaded with a variety of nutrients including fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, while having a low sugar and calorie content.

Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin

  • Great source of beta carotene, a carotenoid that your body converts into Vitamin A.

Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells.  These compounds are linked to lower risks of stomach, throat, pancreas and breast cancers.

  • Pumpkin is high in vitamins A, E and C, and iron and folate which can help boost your immune system.
  • High in Vitamin A, Lutein and Zeaxanthin which can help protect eyesight.
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  • High in beta-carotene, which acts as a natural sunblock. It also contains vitamins C and E, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help keep your skin strong, healthy and rebuild collagen.
  • Good source of potassium, vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, which have been linked to heart health benefits.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds also known as Pepitas

Eating only a small amount of them can provide you with a substantial quantity of healthy fats, protein, magnesium and zinc. They also contain a lot of antioxidants and a decent amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and folate. Health benefits include improved heart health, prostate health and protection against certain cancers.

High in Antioxidants

Pumpkin seeds are full of antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E which can help protect against diseases and inflammation.

Linked to a Reduced Risk of Certain Cancers

Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with a reduced risk of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers.

Prostate and Bladder Health

Pumpkin seeds may reduce symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and an overactive bladder.

Very High in Magnesium

  • Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium. Healthy magnesium levels are important for your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, as well as heart and bone health.
  • Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids — all of which may help keep your heart healthy by reducing blood pressure and increasing good cholesterol. Nitric oxide helps expand blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of plaque growth in your arteries.

Adequate levels of magnesium are important for:

  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Reducing heart disease risk
  • Forming and maintaining healthy bones
  • Regulating blood sugar levels

Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels- Animal studies have shown that pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed powder and pumpkin juice can reduce blood sugar. This is especially important for people with diabetes.

High in Fiber- Diets high in fiber are associated with many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

May Help Improve Sleep- Pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan, zinc and magnesium, all of which help promote good sleep.

Highly Versatile Food

Pumpkin is popular in pancakes, pies, custards, and muffins, but it also works well in savory dishes. You can cook it into a soup or roast it with other vegetables. Canned pumpkin can be combined with coconut milk and spices to make a creamy curry base. Finally, canned pumpkin makes an excellent base for dips and spreads, which you can take in the savory or sweet direction.


Pumpkin Risotto

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped shallots

1 ½ cups arborio rice

1 cup white wine (such as chardonnay or pinot grigio)

6 cups unsalted vegetable broth, at room temperature

1 cup unseasoned pumpkin puree

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground white pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 cup crumbled goat cheese (4 ounces), divided

¼ cup unsalted pepitas, toasted

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Step 1

Heat oil in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until all the rice is coated in oil, about 30 seconds.

Step 2

Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until completely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 3 cups broth and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups broth and cook, stirring often, until the rice is tender but still chewy and all the liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes.

Step 3

Reduce heat to low and add pumpkin, butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg and 1/2 cup goat cheese. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese and butter have fully melted, and all ingredients are incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 4

Serve the risotto topped with pepitas, parsley and the remaining 1/2 cup goat cheese.


Pumpkin Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients

1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (14 ounce) can 100% pure pumpkin

1 cup vegetable juice

1 cup chopped okra

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 small zucchini, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 (12 ounce) package vegetarian ground beef crumbles

1 (19 ounce) can fava beans, drained

2 cups chopped spinach

Directions

Step 1

Combine the tomatoes, pumpkin, vegetable juice, okra, broccoli, carrot, zucchini, onion, pumpkin pie spice, sugar, vinegar, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a slow cooker; cook on high until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 4 hours.

Step 2

Stir the vegetarian ground beef crumbles, fava beans, and spinach into the tomato mixture; continue cooking until completely warmed, 20 to 30 minutes more.


Pumpkin Mousse Pie

Ingredients

Crust

30 small gingersnap cookies, (about 7 1/2 ounces)

2 tablespoons raisins

1 tablespoon canola oil

Filling

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

⅓ cup packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 pints (4 cups) frozen low-fat vanilla ice cream, softened (see Tip)

Directions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan with cooking spray.

Step 2

To prepare crust: Combine gingersnaps and raisins in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add oil and pulse until blended. Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.

Step 3

Bake the crust until set, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 4

To prepare filling: Combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix well. Add ice cream and stir until blended. Spoon the mixture into the cooled pie crust. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Let the pie soften slightly in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.