It’s that time of year…Pumpkin time! As I go to the grocery store, the local farm market, and the ice cream store I am surrounded by pumpkin everything. Over the weekend I saw Pumpkin Ice Cream, Pumpkin Donuts, and Pumpkin Flavored Coffee to just name a few. So what is all the hype about?
Pumpkin is being called the new “superfood.” Now, I am not a fan of glorifying one particular food as being SUPER because I believe all food has its place in our diet and that variety is the key to health and preventing nutritional differences, BUT pumpkin definitely has great things about it!
Now we can look at pumpkin two fold. Pumpkin has the actual flesh, which has its nutrient rich properties as well as pumpkin seeds, which have their own power packed nutrition.
The flesh of the pumpkin would be equivalent to eating a vegetable…high in nutrients and low in calories. About 1 cup of cubed pumpkin would be roughly 30 calories, 1-2 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fiber. Since pumpkin is in the orange family it’s easy to assume that it contains a boat load of Vitamin A! In 1 serving of pumpkin it actually provides almost 200% of the recommended daily value. This can help with eye health and immune support.
Before you carve that pumpkin and throw out the seeds inside think again! The pumpkin seeds are PACKED with nutrition as well! The seeds contain about 9 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving as well as antioxidants such as Zinc and Vitamin E. In order to get the most antioxidants out of the seeds though it recommended to eat not only the inside seed but the shell that houses it.
Preparing the pumpkin seeds to be eaten from your pumpkin is so easy. Once you scoop them out of your pumpkin, rinse them off and put them on a paper towel to dry overnight. The next day, place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 170 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius) for 15-20 minutes! Note: Cooking longer then 20 minutes could destroy the beneficial fat properties in the seed!
Pumpkin seeds can be added to salads, your favorite bread or muffin recipe, your favorite hot cereal, and even ground up and added to your burgers!
So as we enter Pumpkin season…Enjoy all the Nutritional Benefits of your pumpkin!
Dana Snook, RDN, CIC