Pumpkin: The Versatile Veggie
Generally, pumpkins are harvested for carving jack-o-lanterns or for baking pies. However, this vegetable is often overlooked as a nutritious and delicious addition to your table any time of the day. The following suggestions will have you cooking delicious pumpkin dishes in no time at all!
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Eating pumpkin as part of a balanced diet offers many advantages. A half-cup serving of pumpkin has five grams of fiber, is low in calories and contains no fat. Both the seeds and the meat of the pumpkin are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like Vitamins A, C and E, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and potassium, all of which have proven health benefits. And don’t forget to roast those pumpkin seeds for a snack high in protein and essential fatty acids.
A Main Dish
Once you have some roasted pumpkin seeds, use them to make a delicious sauce to combine with pasta for a delicious and satisfying main dish. Hull the toasted pumpkin seeds until you have a half cup. Chop them in a food processor until fine, and add a cup to a cup and a half of fresh parsley. Once finely chopped, add 1/2 cup virgin olive oil steadily until fully mixed.
Stir in 1/8 of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of chili or cayenne pepper, and 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The mixture may be thick, but it can be thinned with up to a cup of boiling water before mixing with the pasta of your choice.
A Delicious Side
Dress up a bowl of couscous with a selection of fall vegetables, including fresh pumpkin. Sauté onion and garlic for about 5 minutes in olive oil, adding a teaspoon each of paprika, ground cinnamon, and ginger. Stir in four to five cups of chicken or vegetable stock. Add one to two cups of diced fresh pumpkin along with other varieties of squash and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let the mixture simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Drain veggies and add to cooked couscous for a hearty side dish that’s warm and delicious.
Don’t Forget Dessert
Puree made from fruits and vegetables can often be substituted for oil when it comes to dessert recipes. A common substitute is to use apple sauce in brownies, cake recipes, and cookie mixes instead of butter or oil. When pureed, pumpkin can also act as a substitute for oil while sneaking a vegetable into a favorite dessert. Make a pan of chocolate brownies using pumpkin puree for a delicious dessert with an extra health benefit.
Kelly Wilson loves to harvest and use fresh pumpkin in a variety of ways to provide healthy meals for her family. For more information about how foods like pumpkin can help you take care of your dental health, visit Dr. Nathan Doyel at Pacific Family Dental, a Sherwood dentist.