Pumpkin, Spice and Everything Nice!
by Mia Gibson RD, LD, CDE
Dietitian at Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab at the MCHS Center for Health and Wellness
The signs of Fall are cooler weather, falling leaves and of course pumpkins. That bright orange pumpkin may mean Fall is here, but that orange color is a signal for a healthy food choice too. Deep red and orange foods are good sources of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene can be converted to Vitamin A in the body and is an antioxidant. Antioxidants may reduce risks of cancers, reduce signs of aging and may protect your heart.
Pumpkins are low calorie and high in fiber. They are also a good source of potassium. Pumpkins are 90% water and are technically a fruit.
Instead of just carving your pumpkin, try a new pumpkin recipe using fresh pumpkins. It doesn’t have to be just pumpkin pie … try roasting the seeds or baking fresh pumpkin bread. Fresh pumpkins can be cooked by boiling, steaming or baking.
Pie pumpkins, or sweet pumpkins, are smaller ones used for cooking. A good pumpkin should be heavy and free of soft spots. A five-pound pumpkin yields about four cups of pumpkin puree. The puree can be frozen and used at a later date. Before cooking, remove stem and seeds and stringy material inside then cut into wedges. The pumpkin can be peeled before or after cooking.
In the first Thanksgivings, Pilgrims prepared the pumpkins by scooping out the insides and filling with cream, honey, eggs and spices. The top was replaced and the pumpkin was buried in the hot ashes of a campfire for cooking. It made excellent custard!