What is October without a blog about one of my absolute favourite foods … pumpkin!!! I know, I know, enough already. From pumpkin spiced lattes to carved jack-o-lanterns, pumpkins are everywhere. Is there really anything else meaningful to say about a squash? Absolutely! I will not rest until every household eats their Halloween pumpkin! Not a fan? Once you know a little bit more about their nutritional value and versatility I just know that you will be!
Pumpkin is technically considered a fruit. The rich and flavourful flesh lends itself beautifully to both sweet and savoury dishes making it incredibly versatile. Pumpkins come in a wide variety of colours, shapes and sizes. Some varieties of pumpkin are better suited to carving while others are best for cooking. Many people enjoy pumpkin once or twice a year in the form of canned pumpkin made into a pumpkin pie. But it can be more, so much more!
Pumpkin is a dietary rock star for the following reasons:
1. Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene. Beta carotene is a naturally occurring pigment found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene is either converted by the body into Vitamin A or used as an antioxidant. Adequate levels of Vitamin A supports eye health and helps prevent age related macular degeneration. Vitamin A is also supportive for mucous membranes making it an excellent nutrient for fighting and recovering from colds and allergies. Vitamin A also supports tissue growth and regeneration and is beneficial for the health of the skin. Basically, eating pumpkin can give you excellent vision, fewer and shorter colds, and a gorgeous complexion!
2. Pumpkin is a good source of dietary fibre. Incorporating more fibre into your diet will prevent constipation and aid in proper bowel function and elimination. Fibre also increases satiety which, in turn, helps prevent overeating!
3. Pumpkin can be added to almost anything. From baking to sauces, pumpkin is easy to prepare and enjoy. Experiment with incorporating more pumpkin into your diet by baking or steaming it and adding it to:
• Muffins, pancakes, cookies, scones or breads
• Blend it into hummus or mash it into potatoes
• Puree it and mix it into spaghetti or macaroni and “cheese”
• Turn it into soup
• Add it to your morning smoothie
• Chop it and toss it over a green salad
• Make pumpkin pie popsicles
• Use it as a base for healthy chocolate pudding
• Puree it and add it to yoghurt
• Or… make a classic pumpkin pie