Pumpkin is one of those super foods that has so many excellent health benefits. It also happens to be one of my favorite foods! Maybe because I was a Thanksgiving baby or maybe just because I have a smart body and it knows what’s good for her. Be careful of all the posers like pumpkin spiced lattes being sold this time of year. There is actually no pumpkin in this beverage at all. It’s just the “pumpkin spices.” Like cinnamon and nutmeg, used in pumpkin pies or breads. An actual pumpkin does not taste like these sweet drinks but still is a delicious food and is quite versatile. I often will cut a smaller pumpkin open, season it with salt and pepper and olive oil, roast it in the oven and just eat it right out of the skin. Like I said, I love pumpkin!
The pumpkin is related to the squash, gourd, and the melon family. It is also known as the winter squash.Often times butternut squash is used in place of pumpkin in many recipes. Butternut squash has a firmer flesh and is great for cubing and roasting, much like a yam.
What makes the pumpkin one of the top super foods is the amount of goodness it holds inside its tough skin. A pumpkin has some of the highest levels of Vitamin A which is a natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the virtue of skin and mucus membranes, not mention it’s an essential vitamin for good visual sight and helps protect the body against lung and oral cavity cancers. The pumpkin is a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. It is also the host to the B-complex group of vitamins which helps the body with; good digestion, energy levels, a healthy nervous system and healthy skin, hair and nails. Let’s not forget the pumpkin seeds! They have their own rockstar show of health benefits. Pumpkin Seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, great for a healthy heart. The seeds are a concentrated source of protein and minerals like iron and zinc. These tasty seeds also have a health promoting amino acid tryptophan which is converted to GABA in the brain, (GABA helps with anxiety). Of course you will want to roast the seeds first.
There are many types of pumpkin and this time of year (October-November) you will see them in their many shapes, sizes and colors at the super markets. There are far too many to try and name them all but that’s what google is for! Don’t be afraid to pick one up and then look up how to cook whatever you’re not sure about. I’m making a Roasted Pumpkin stew with my two variety’s I picked up from the market…