Food Talk
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Pumpkins – So much more than just a Jack-O-Lantern!

 

PumpkinseedsPumpkins are good for so much more than just Halloween. The lowly pumpkin, seeds included, is truly a super food. Eating pumpkin protects you against heart disease and cancer, fuels you with vitamins and protein, helps make you look younger, feel better and lose weight!  Here is why:

Vitamin A – A quarter cup of pumpkin gives you all the vitamin A you need in a day, which is essential for healthy vision and skin and boasting your immune system.

Antioxidant for Your Immune System – The bright orange colour of a pumpkin means it is loaded with the carotenoid called “beta-carotene”. Carotenoids build good cardiovascular health. They also have been known to decrease the risk of cancers such as lung, colon, bladder, cervical, breast, and skin. In one landmark study, women with the highest concentrations of carotenes in their diets had the lowest risk of breast cancer.

The same carotenoids that researchers believe keep cancer cells at bay can also help keep your skin wrinkle free.

Additional Disease Fighting Nutrients – Disease fighting nutrients in pumpkins include potassium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and vitamins C and E.

Fiber for Health and Weight Control – One cup of canned pumpkin has seven grams of fiber and three grams of protein and contains only 80 calories – which keeps you feeling full as well as slim and trim!

And then, there are the Seeds! – One ounce of pumpkin seeds plain or roasted (about 140) is packed with protein, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Studies suggest pumpkin seeds provide a number of benefits. They can block the enlargement of the prostate, lower the risk of bladder stones and help to prevent depression.

Iron – It can be a challenge to get as much iron you need in a day (Recommended Dietary Allowance is 18 milligrams for women, and 8 milligrams for men.)  An ounce of roasted pumpkin or squash seed kernels contain 4.2 milligrams of iron.

Canned or fresh? – There’s no need to choose fresh to get the benefits of pumpkin. You get the same nutritional value and the same cooking properties from canned pumpkin (in fact, you get a bit more protein).

When a recipe calls for canned pumpkin you can replace it with fresh. Placing a small, cleaned-out pumpkin in the microwave for six minutes. This should make it soft enough so you can scoop out the insides. Don’t forget to roast the seeds on a cookie sheet. No need to wash first. Just spread them out with salt and a tsp. of cooking oil. Cook at 225°F about 1 hour.

Use in Recipes – Low in both calories and fat, canned pumpkin is a healthy substitute for oil and eggs in baked goods.

Add ¼ cup canned pumpkin for each egg and an equal amount of canned pumpkin for the oil called for in the recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for 3 eggs and 1 cup of oil, you will add a total of 1¾ cup canned pumpkin.