Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Halloween is over, but you may still have a pumpkin or two hanging around. Pumpkins aren't just for decor. The pulp and the seeds can be made into an array of different recipes. So before you put your pumpkin in the compost, think about all the yummy things you could make from it. We have even provided some great recipes!
Pumpkins get their bright orange color from beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system, promotes healthy skin, and may even reduce cancer risk. That’s because beta-carotene inhibits oxidation and protects the body from free radicals, which can damage the cells and lead to cancer and other chronic illnesses.
They are also loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, magnesium, selenium, and lutein in every bite, plus a good dose of vitamins A, C and E.
There are many healthy benefits of pumpkins. Eating pumpkin has been linked to a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, and its natural anti-inflammatory properties aid in fighting asthma and arthritis. Pumpkin also helps maintain fluid balance, regulate blood pressure, modulate the immune system, and prevent cataracts and arteriosclerosis. A digestive aid, pumpkin soothes the stomach and decreases bloating and flatulence. In fact, pureed pumpkin is also great for dogs when they have either constipation or diarrhea.
When choosing a pumpkin to use in a recipe, look for a deep orange color and a smooth, dull rind, indicating a mature, sweet pumpkin. Store it in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Once cut, it's best to cook pumpkin the same day to preserve its nutrients. Cook pumpkin just like you would a potato. You can use it in soups, or puree it and add to muffins, cakes and breads to enrich their fiber and nutrient content and produce moist, delicious baked goods.
Here are a few pumpkin recipes that have every meal covered from breakfast to dinner, and even some desserts!
Crock-Pot Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal : Prepare this nutritious and warming meal at night and it will be ready in the morning. Perfect for when you don't have much time in the mornings, but a hearty breakfast is needed to get you going!
Lentil Pumpkin Curry: This spicy vegan dish is perfect for those cool days. (Source: The Cheese Trap by Neal Barnard, MD; recipe by Dreena Burton)
Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Pie: This recipe takes the traditional pumpkin pie and updates into a deliciously decadent dessert that is dairy free, gluten free, vegan, and even pretty healthy.
Oatmeal Pumpkin Bites: These are nutrition packed balls of energy! They make great pre- and post workout snacks. They also freeze very well.
Pumpkin Chickpea Dip
This is a great after-school snack for the kids, and one of my favorite pumpkin recipes.
• 3 cups fresh pumpkin, cubed
• 1/2 cup chickpeas (if using canned, rinse thoroughly)
• Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed • 1/4 cup tahini • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice •
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
• 1/4 tsp ground cumin
• Salt and pepper
• 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
Place pumpkin cubes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil and continue to boil until soft (about 40 minutes). Drain well and blend in a food processor. Return pumpkin to saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until liquid is nearly evaporated (about 25 minutes).
Place chickpeas and pumpkin in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add oil in small amounts, if needed. Transfer to a medium-size bowl.
Stir tahini into pumpkin/chickpea mixture, followed by garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with cut up veggies.
Photo from here, with thanks.
Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
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Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. Barnard leads programs advocating for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research.
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Dr. Rav Ivker is a holistic family physician, health educator, and best-selling author.
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