Happy pumpkin season!
I have had the pleasure of seeing beautiful fall displays with pumpkins, mums, and gourds, and have seen some impressive jack-o-lanterns already. Seeing these decorations always makes me wonder what everyone does with the insides of their pumpkins. What do you do with yours?
Native American Indians valued pumpkins for their dietary benefits and they were spot on with their assessment. Pumpkins are loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium and are very low in calories and sodium.
Vitamin A is famous for keeping our eyes healthy and helping to prevent age-related eye diseases. Fiber helps to keep us feeling full and with only about 45 calories per cup of pumpkin, it’s a great food choice if you’re trying to watch your weight! Sounds good, right?
You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy pumpkin pie. Pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin doughnuts and pumpkin seeds are all popular this time of year.
If the recipe includes pumpkin, odds are it will be both delicious and nutritious in some way. However, most pumpkin recipes call for a great deal of added fat and sugar. Enjoy your pumpkin, but don’t overdo it on the sweets.
Preparing a fresh pumpkin is a messy job, and though it can help you get some extra physical activity in your day, not everyone has the time to prepare it from scratch.
If this is you, you’ll be glad to know that canned pumpkin is a great source of nutrients too! In fact, canned pumpkin is even higher in Vitamin A than fresh pumpkin.
If you have the opportunity this fall to prepare some fresh pumpkin recipes, I encourage you to try it! Preparing the pumpkin’s seeds is one of my favorite things to do.
Here is a recipe I like to use for sweet toasted pumpkin seeds:
- 1 quart water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups pumpkin seeds
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil or melted, unsalted butter
- 6 Tablespoons sugar substitute of choice
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- Rinse seeds under cold running water in a colander to remove fibrous pumpkin pieces.
- Bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the seeds and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, spread on paper towel and pat dry.
- Combine vegetable oil, sugar substitute, and pumpkin pie spice and mix with pumpkin seeds.
- Spread evenly on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan.
- Roast the seeds for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir about every 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
- Cool the seeds, then shell and eat or pack in air-tight containers or zip closure bags and refrigerate for up to three days.
Don’t throw away the insides of your pumpkins. Enjoy them this fall and try something new. Here’s to a healthier you!
For more information, please call Stephanie at the Purdue Extension Kosciusko County office at (574) 372-2340, or email at [email protected]