Never has a vegetable provided so much fun and been eaten so rarely. For so long, we have associated pumpkins only with Hallowe'en's jack'o lanterns or Thanksgiving's pumpkin pie. However, it is a veggie that the 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth says is a really great, overlooked vegetable that is ridiculously low in calories while very high in potassium and vitamin A, not to mention the beta-carotene that is typically found in all orange foods.
Potassium works with sodium in our bodies to maintain water balance. People who have diets that are high in potassium have lower blood pressure (you can also get good doses of potassium from popular foods like bananas, though pumpkins have far more, per calorie, than that tropical fruit). So increasing potassium in your diet helps to ward off hypertension. It seems that the more potassium you take in, the more sodium you excrete... something that's important in our Western, industrialized, processed food exposed, salt-heavy diets.
|Pumpkin is the generic name for any winter squash|
that is round in shape, usually rigid, and bright
orange in colour, like these from Dargatz Family Farm.
- Increasing your potassium intake decreases your risk of stroke.
- Increasing your potassium intake increases your bone mineral density.
- Increasing your potassium intake when you exercise helps to ward off muscle cramping.
- Pumpkins contain beta-cryptoxanthin which can reduce the risk of lung and colon cancers along with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Pumpkins contain lutein and zeaxanthin which are vision-protecting superstars.
how to choose a pumpkin
|Thankfully, for your waist line, the dough does|
not taste very good...
how make pumpkin purée
This is SO easy! And once you make your own, you'll find it is so much tastier (not to mention cheaper on the grocery budget) than canned pumpkin!
Split the pumpkin lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and fibrous bits. I like to use a spoon with a sharp edge to do this. Place one half, cut side down, in a shallow baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover with plastic wrap. Cook on high of 12-15 minutes, until tender. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the plastic, cool, scrape out the pumpkin and purée either in a blender, a food processor or in a bowl with an immersion blender. Repeat with the other half pumpkin.
pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
These pumpkin cookies have been a favourite around our house for almost 2 decades now. The recipe came from a child's Halloween craft book that we took out of the library when my daughter was quite young. The cookies are very moist, and almost cake-like in texture. They are not your typical cookie, but they are unbelievably delicious. They're also not a glamorous cookie... never perfectly shaped they're like the ugly duckling of cookies. This is an easy recipe that you just can't mess up!
|The smell of these cookies coming out of the oven is|
½ c. butter
¾ c. brown sugar
¼ c. molasses
1 c. pumpkin, canned or roasted & mashed
2 c. flour
½ t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
1 c. mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter & brown sugar together. Add molasses. Stir in egg. Add pumpkin. Put all dry ingredients into the bowl except chocolate chips and mix together well. Add chocolate chips.
Bake 10-12 minutes. Cookies should still be very soft in the centre so that they come out soft & chewy & cakey.
Nutritional Information from The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, by Jonny Bowden and The Greengrocer's Kitchen, by Pete Luckett
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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee