The last few days around our house have been spent carving pumpkins and roasting seeds. Although pumpkins aren’t only for Halloween, many people have at least one hanging around this time of year. Pumpkins are a winter squash and they are chock full of nutrients.
Pumpkins contain a rich supply of beta carotene and alpha carotene. Loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, you’ll get a mouthful of potassium, magnesium, selenium, and lutein in every bite, plus a good dose of vitamins A, C, and E.
My favorite part is the seeds! By weight, they contain more iron than liver, are rich in omega-3s, and are a good source of protein, making them great for vegan and vegetarian diets.
There are many healthy benefits of pumpkins. Eating pumpkin has been linked to a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, and its natural anti-inflammatory properties aid in fighting asthma and arthritis. Pumpkin also helps maintain fluid balance, regulate blood pressure, modulate the immune system, and prevent cataracts and arteriosclerosis. A digestive aid, pumpkin soothes the stomach and decreases bloating and flatulence.
Eating pumpkin seeds promotes prostate health and acts as a mild natural laxative and diuretic.
If you’re buying a pumpkin to cook rather than carve, get a small sugar pumpkin. Look for a deep orange color and a smooth, dull rind, indicating a mature, sweet pumpkin. Store it in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Once cut, cook pumpkin the same day to preserve its nutrients. Cook pumpkin just like you would a potato. You can use it in soups, or puree it and add to muffins, cakes, and breads to enrich their fiber and nutrient content and produce moist, delicious baked goods.
Eat pumpkin seeds as a snack, toss them on salads, stir into hot or cold cereals, or add to baked goods for extra crunch.
This is my recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter, salt, pepper, a little honey and a dash of cayenne. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Go in and give the tray a little shake every now and then.
Wishing you a happy and safe Halloween!