October 11, 2010

Charlie Brown Was Right...Pumpkins ARE Great!

Total Prep Time: Approximately 30 minutes

1 Vegetables & Fruit (1/2 cup pumpkin)
1 Meat & Alternatives (1/4 cup pumpkin seeds)

Canadian Thanksgiving is over.  Our tummies are full of roasts, turkey, ham and all the fixings.  You may have had apple pie for dessert one night, pumpkin pie the next.  Apples will continue to be a part of your diet throughout the next year.  Why should pumpkins be pushed to the back of the line until next year?  It's worth making them a staple in your family's diet.

Pumpkins come in many different varieties, from white 'Ghost' pumpkins, to red 'Tomato' pumpkins, even a green 'Cinderella' pumpkin that is identical to the carriage from the fairytale story!  But there's much more to this vegetable than funny names and funny appearances.

  • Excellent source beta carotene (antioxidant)
  • Great source of Vitamins A, E, C and B6
  • Also contain potassium, calcium and iron
  • Very low in sugar, fat and cholesterol and high in fibre
  • Pumpkins are a great food for diabetes patients as they are known to have the ability to stabilize blood sugar levels.

It's not just the pumpkin flesh that is good for you.  The seeds contain protein, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc.  They also contain high levels of tryptophan, the feel-good, makes-you-sleepy amino acid that we all consume too much of during the holidays!

Pumpkin can be used as a sweet or savoury side to many meals.  Roasting and pureeing pumpkin are common cooking methods, and it can replace squash in any dish, including soup.  Add uncooked pureed pumpkin to a muffin recipe or to pancakes for a healthy breakfast option.

Both Big-A and Lil-J devoured my homemade pumpkin pie tarts during this holiday.  Big-A's favourite part was the 'orange middle'.  I was pleased as pie knowing that he loved the actual pumpkin most, especially considering that they were topped with a spiced whipped cream!  I will continue to bake with pumpkins during these chilly autumn and winter months, while my family is craving the comforting scents of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg...mmmm!  And I'll make sure to not forget about them once the warm weather is back.

While you're carving your jack 'o lanterns for Halloween, make sure to save the seeds for a nutritious snack.  They're very easy to prepare:

Roasted Pumpkin Seed Recipe

~Scoop the seeds out of a pumpkin, place in a large bowl.
~Remove any large pieces of pumpkin flesh, rinse seeds well to remove any clingy fibres.
~Allow seeds to dry on paper towels.
~Once dry, place seeds back in a large bowl.
~Drizzle with canola oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and your favourite spice.  I like to use paprika.
~Roast at 375 degrees F in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are golden brown in colour.
~To store, allow the seeds to cool completely and place in an airtight jar or zip bag.  They will store for one week at room temperature, or for up to four weeks in the refrigerator.

Let your child join in the fun.  They can help dig out the raw seeds (if they're brave enough to stick their hands into the slimy pumpkin!), they can help to wash the seeds and they can also mix the seeds, oil and spices in the bowl.  Add roasted pumpkin seeds to your salad, granola or muffins.  Sprinkle on top of a casserole.  Or just munch on them as a snack.  You won't be able to stop!  Just remember that they are very high in fibre and too many can give children a tummy ache.

If your child likes roasted pumpkin seeds and can safely eat them without choking, send him to school with a small container for his snack.  He can tell his friends and teacher how he helped to roast them.  Add a piece of fruit or a container of yogurt for a balanced snack.

I look forward to sharing more pumpkin recipes with you.  Don't let this amazing vegetable escape for another year!

Now, time for a cup of tea and a delicious pumpkin pie tart...I'm glad that I made extra!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!


Kailin said...

nom nom nom!!! Great post!

Lena! said...

Yum! Pumpkins are so underrated - thanks for reminding me why I love October so much!