Autumn sees a great plethora of amazing vegetables in the shops. Pumpkins are often only associated with Halloween but they are a super versatile vegetable!
At just 13 calories per 100g of flesh, making them great for anyone watching their weight and looking to eat healthier.
· Pumpkin is a squash, so the flesh can be used as a vegetable just like butternut squash.
· The world’s biggest pumpkin weighed in at more than 1,800lb. That’s some vegetable!
· Pumpkins are more than 90% water.
· Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A and potassium and are also high in fibre.
· Pumpkins have been used for a variety of ailments – they were once recommended as a “cure” for freckles and were used as a remedy for snakebites.
Sowing the seeds
· Pumpkin seeds can help men avoid prostate cancer.
· Pumpkin and the seeds can increase blood flow everywhere and boost levels of testosterone due to the zinc they contain.
· Pumpkin seeds are rich in minerals – nearly 20% of the recommended daily intake of zinc and 50% of the daily recommended intake for magnesium and manganese is in a 30g serving. They’re also rich in essential fats and protein.
· Pumpkin seeds can help relieve or prevent minor kidney disorders such as cystitis and water retention.
· As well as containing some B vitamins they also have good amounts of vitamin K*, needed for bone health and blood clotting – good for people at risk from osteoporosis and menopausal women. *If you are taking blood thinning medication it is advisable to check with your GP before eating on a regular basis
· Pumpkin seeds are 45% fat, but this is from both the omega 3 and 6 essential fats needed for hormone balance, brain function, helping to lower cholesterol and skin health.
· 1 tablespoon of seeds has 90 calories, so use them sparingly.
Smashing pumpkin ideas
· Small pumpkins are the tastiest. Cut them in half, scrape out the seeds and roast.
· Cut the flesh of larger pumpkins into chunks and roast with chunks of red pepper for a colourful vegetable side dish.
· Uncooked chopped pumpkin freezes well and is great for thickening soups and stews.
· Pumpkin seeds can be eaten as a snack or added to muesli, salads or nut and seed roasts. About 20g-30g is a good recommended daily dose (1 tablespoon is approx 16g).
· Try this as an occasional savoury treat and a healthier alternative to salted peanuts. Place pumpkin seeds on a large baking tray and drizzle with soy sauce. Roast in a hot oven for a few minutes. They harden slightly and become slightly nutty in texture and taste and the soy sauce adds that delicious salty flavour. Just don’t eat them all at once!