Pumpkins aren’t just for jack-o-lanterns and pies, but they are plentiful this time of year. This low-calorie squash is rich in potassium and loaded with beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant), and its natural sweetness brings flavor to dishes without any added guilt.
This versatile winter squash works just as well in savory dishes as it does in baked goods, but don’t get any ideas about using the one you carved. The pumpkins you use for this are too wet, fibrous, and bland to eat. Instead, buy small “sugar” or “pie” types, or larger “cheese” varieties (identified by their bluish rinds), and prepare them like butternut squash. Or you can save time and use canned pumpkin.
Pumpkin is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 4 oz. of the fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. It is, however, rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins.
Something you can get from your Halloween pumpkin are the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals, and health-benefiting vitamins. For instance, 4 oz. 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.
Here’s a delicious, healthy, and easy recipe that uses pumpkin and apples which are also abundant this time of year:
Curried Apple-Pumpkin Soup
- COOK apple in butter in saucepan over medium heat until golden. Add onion, curry powder, ginger, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until softened, 4 minutes.
- STIR in water and pumpkin puree, adding more water if too thick. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
- SEASON with salt, pepper, and honey to taste.
NUTRITION (per serving) 102 calories., 2 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 3.5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 33 mg sodium
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