Enjoy the health benefits of pumpkins just like our forefathers before us. Native American Indians used pumpkin as a healthy staple in their diets for centuries before the pilgrims landed. Pumpkins continued to be an important crop for the pilgrims because they stored well and provided a nutritious food source during the winter months.
Today, pumpkin flavoring is in everything from candy and coffee to ice cream and doughnuts. Don’t be fooled by this; pumpkins and their seeds are nutrient-dense foods that score high on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI).
Pumpkins and related squashes are good sources of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants belonging to a group of pigments called carotenoids.
Pumpkin makes a great pie but, don’t stop there. Pumpkin puree can be stirred into soups, stews or chilis. You can whip up a pumpkin smoothie by blending pumpkin puree with a banana, spinach or romaine lettuce, a few dates, some non-diary milk and cinnamon and nutmeg. I recommend cooking your own pumpkin puree or using the puree packed in non-BPA containing cartons.
Tip: Choose the lighter colored “pie pumpkins” or “sugar pumpkins,” they are sweeter and less watery than the orange jack-o'-lantern pumpkins.
Leftover pumpkin puree may be frozen in an airtight container for up to 12 months.
When preparing pumpkin puree or carving a jack-o’-lantern, don’t throw away the seeds. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are not only flavorful, they are a super food. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of:
Enjoy the delicious flavors and health benefits of fresh pumpkins, pumpkin seeds and other winter squashes, and ignore those SAD pumpkin-flavored fake foods.