A blog post from our health coach, Beth Waisburd.
Fall is officially here. The leaves are changing, there’s a chill in the air and, of course, our kids have Halloween on their minds. It is only a matter of time before we start the search for the perfect pumpkin. And though most of us will carve a pumpkin this season, far fewer will eat one. Not everyone is aware that this funky squash-like fruit is completely edible and so healthy. Before you reach for the carving knife, consider this:
- SEE the benefits. Pumpkin is packed with vitamin A which protects the cornea of the eye and keeps it sparkling. Pumpkin also contains carotenoids – the compound responsible for that classic orange color. Carotenoids are converted to even more vitamin A for a double dosage of eye protection.
- Stay lean and light. High in fiber and low in calories, pumpkin is the perfect addition to a healthy diet. A serving of pumpkin contains 3 grams of fiber and only 50 calories to help us feel satiated without packing on the pounds.
- Pumpkin keeps us pumped! With more potassium per serving than a banana, pumpkin provides the energy boost we need to rake a lawn full of leaves!
- Savor the seeds. Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols. These plant-based chemicals decrease LDL, the “bad” form of cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptofan, an amino acid that aides in the production of serotonin, the hormone that keeps us feeling happy.
- Cooking is easier than carving. Really – don’t be spooked by the cooking process, it’s a cinch! Roast it, mash it, and add it to your favorite fall recipes.
So as you search for the perfect Halloween pumpkin, pick a few extras. Don’t be tricked into believing the pumpkin is just for decoration, treat yourself to the health benefits.
Cooked Pumpkin Recipe:
1 medium sugar pumpkin
-Preheat oven to 300
-Cut pumpkin into manageable pieces removing pulp and seeds
-Place cut pumpkin skin side up in a roasting pan. Add ¼” of water.
-Bake uncovered for 1 hour and allow to cool
-Remove skin. Mash or puree and use in your favorite recipes that call for pureed pumpkin.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
2 medium sugar pumpkins
-Preheat oven to 250 degrees
-Scoop seeds out of pumpkin and use fingers to separate pulp from seeds
-Discard pulp and place seeds in a colander
-Rinse seeds and pat dry with a paper towel
-Place seeds in a single layer on a waxed paper overnight to dry
-Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread dry seeds in a single layer
-Bake 1 hour to 1 hur and 15 minutes stirring every 15 minutes until seeds are lightly browned
-Season with sea salt and your favorite spices.
Photo link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin