Pumpkin Crazy

With Halloween just around the corner, pumpkins are abundant in supermarkets and in pumpkin patches. I went to a pumpkin patch today and all of the bright orange hues of the pumpkins contrasting against the brown and tan hay barrels and corn stocks filled me with a warm, fall glow. It was beautiful! But pumpkins are not just good to look at. They are also great to eat!

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Pumpkin is amazing. It is so versitle and easy to use. You can simply roast a pumpkin and then cook with it immediately, or you can use it to make pumpkin anything- ice cream, muffins, pie, soup-  you name it, you can pretty much make it with pumpkin!

Pumpkin is a widely grown but underused and under appreciated vegetable. Is is incredibly rich in vital antioxidants, and vitamins; containing vitamin A, C, E,  flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as leutin, xanthin, and carotenes in abundance.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

  • Pumpkin is a low calorie vegetable. A 100g serving provides just 26 calories. IMG_2147It also contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. However, pumpkin is rich in dietary fibre, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. It can help with cholesterol control and weight reduction.

  • There are 7384 mg of vitamin A per 100 g, which makes pumpkin one of the vegetables in the Cucurbitaceae family featuring highest levels of this vitamin. One serving provides about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight.
  • Pumpkin is a very good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
  • Pumpkin is rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.pumpkin
  • In addition to the flesh, the seeds can be eaten. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. For instance, 100 g of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 g of protein,110% RDA of iron, 4987 mg of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), zinc (71%) etc., but no cholesterol. Further, the seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan.

Recipe Ideas

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice

  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 can regular coconut milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin puree (you could use canned pumpkin)
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract
  1. In a saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk and spices. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat immediately to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat.
  2. Strain mixture into a bowl to remove the whole spices. Stir in the pumpkin. Cover with cling film. Make sure to press the plastic wrap directly on the liquid, so there is no condensation (this prevents the ice cream from becoming too icy).
  3. Put mixture into the fridge and chill until cold (2 hours).
  4. Remove from the fridge and add the vanilla extract.
  5. Use an  ice cream maker and process the chilled ice cream mixture.
    1. If you don’t have an ice cream maker then chill the mix for another 20 minutes. As the edges start to freeze, stir the mixture rapidly with a whisk or spatula to break up the partially frozen ice cream. Return to the freezer.
    2. Stir ice cream vigorously every 30 minutes until it is firmly frozen. This may be repeated 4 to 5 times until mixture is smooth and creamy. If ice cream becomes too hard, place it into the refrigerator until it becomes soft enough to beat and continue the process.
  6. Put the ice cream into an air tight container. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream so freezer burn doesn’t occur. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.
  7. To serve, leave at room temperature for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and pumpkin seeds.

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Paleo Pumpkin Smoothie 

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ frozen banana
  •  ½ tablespoons maple syrup
  •   ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup ice
  1. Blend all ingredients together until you get a smooth smoothie.
  2. Pour in a glass.
  3. Top with anything you like! Cinnamon and walnuts work well.

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