Why do we have such a fascination with pumpkin every autumn? Could it be the childhood memories of pumpkin carving, roasting pumpkin seeds, and the fun of dressing up for Halloween to go trick-or-treating? Or could it be the bombardment of some delicious pumpkin goodies being brought back on the market – hello PSL and Pumpkin Spice Cheerios – I see you!
I am firmly in the pro-pumpkin camp and will share some tidbits from an article I wrote way back in 2012:
Choose a pumpkin that is firm and has no visible damage or soft spots. The whole vegetable can be stored for months in a cool, dark, dry place. There is no need to refrigerate your pumpkins; they keep best around 55 Fahrenheit. Once you cut the pumpkin, however, it begins to deteriorate and only lasts a couple of days.
Pumpkin is a low calorie, fiber-rich, and nutrient-rich starchy vegetable. (Sorry my low-carb friends – pumpkin does not fall into the non-starchy veg category!) Pumpkin rates as a nutrition rock-star due to its vitamin A content. This is from the pigment, beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A and gives pumpkin its orange color. Vitamin A promotes healthy eyes and vision and is involved with immune function and reproduction. It appears that vitamin A reduces risk of certain cancers in non-smokers and may slow vision loss associated with age-related macular degeneration. While there are concerns with too much vitamin A from supplements, beta-carotene has no adverse health effects except for a change in skin tone to an orange hue. This could be an advantage if you find yourself without a costume for Halloween…
Seeds are typically packed with vitamins and minerals and pumpkin seeds do not disappoint. If you have the calories to spare, you will also get a hefty amount of magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc (all over 50% DV) as well as 25% DV of iron. Only 5 of the 28 grams of fat is saturated fat and there is no trans fat.
Whatever the reason, pumpkin is a delicious and versatile addition to your meals and snacks. And I’m not just talking baked pumpkin deliciousness like pumpkin pie or pumpkin breads… I’m talking some new ways to add pumpkin to your plate with a Pumpkin Vinaigrette, a Pumpkin-Nilla Chai Smoothie, and Pumpkin Power Bites!