Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Pumpkins pack quite a nutritional punch. One cup of mashed pumpkin provides a whopping 245% of the daily value of vitamin A. According to the National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus database, vitamin A plays an important role in healthy skin, teeth, bones, and internal organs. Additionally, adequate vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes. But the goodness does not stop there; vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin E, potassium, copper and manganese are just a few of the vitamins and minerals that your body gets when you eat pumpkin.
Hey, since pumpkin is so great, bring on the pumpkin spice lattes, right? Unfortunately, that will not work. Most commercially produced lattes only contain chemical flavors and spices, so no nutritious pumpkin there. But pumpkin pie is a good way to enjoy some pumpkin, along with homemade smoothies with pumpkin, pumpkin bread, pumpkin oatmeal cookies, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin soup, etc. It is such a versatile gourd; pumpkin can be incorporated in salty, savory, and sweet dishes. Nothing tops roasted pumpkin with a dash of salt- delicious, nutritious and only 45 calories per cup.
Anyone who has tried to peel a pumpkin will know it not an easy task. The easiest way to prepare a pumpkin is by cutting it in half and then roasting it. First, start by heating the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, place half of a pumpkin face down on each sheet, then roast the pumpkin for 30-45 minutes. Once it is done, the meat should be soft. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let it cool. When the pumpkin is cool enough to touch, take a spoon and scoop out the meat. Puree it to use in baking and smoothies or dice it and throw it into soups. Store the extra in the freezer for Thanksgiving pumpkin pies or Christmas cookies with a healthy, delicious twist.
Make the most of this favorite Rockford pastime, pumpkin picking, with friends and family while taking the opportunity to enjoy a healthy, local, and nutritious gourd. Pumpkin picking is an affordable, fun activity that can blossom into healthy, nutritious delights that everyone will surely enjoy.
Autumn Vegetable Soup
Cooking time: 1 hour
Makes 8 servings
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried onions
1 tbsp dried garlic
2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
2 celery stalks
2 cups chopped pumpkin
1 cup green beans
1 cup peas
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 can of kidney beans (optional)
- Wash, peel and chop all the vegetables to about the same size.
- In a thick bottomed pot, add olive oil, dried onions, and dried garlic and sautÃ© at low heat for 1 minute.
- Once they start to brown, add the salt, pepper, carrots, parsnips, celery and leeks and sautÃ© for a few minutes until leeks become soft and translucent.
- Add 8 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the pumpkin, beans, peas, corn, oatmeal and kidney beans (if using). Â Let soup simmer for 45 minutes on low.
- Once vegetables are at the desired texture, turn off heat and enjoy.
Nutritious Pumpkin Bread
Makes 3 loaves
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking: 1 hour
4 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup corn oil
2 cups granulated sugar
3 ripe bananas
2 cups unbleached flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 Â½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
Â½ teaspoon ground cloves
Â½ teaspoon ground ginger
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 3 bread pans
- Â In a large mixing bowl, mix together pumpkin, corn oil, sugar, bananas, and eggs
- Â In a second mixing bowl, combine unbleached flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, Â Â Â nutmeg, cloves and ginger
- Mix together contents of both bowls and pour equal amounts of the batter into each bread pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The top of the loaf should bounce back when touched gently.
- Turn loaves onto cooling rack.
Tip: Pumpkin bread always tastes better the next day.
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