It's that time of year--PUMPKINS have invaded. Farmers markets are dotted with orange spheres big and small and everything in between. And, even though this ubiquitous squash comes in other colors with every imaginable kind of marking there's no replacing the good ole perfectly round, lusciously orange, Sleepy Hollow kind of pumpkin.
I didn't intend October 12 to be my own personal pumpkin day but I see I posted about pumpkins last year on this date. Take a look HERE to learn how to cook a pumpkin.
Pumpkins are not only fun, they are one of natures most perfect foods. That lovely orange color I mentioned is brought to us by those immune-boosting antioxidants the carotene twins: alpha and beta. They are precursors to vitamin A and help keep our eyes looking good.
Other nutrients also hang out with pumpkin: vitamin C and E along with magnesium, potassium and iron. Pumpkins are a wise choice for pies as they only contain 49 tiny little calories per cup. Of course, you will add a sweetener but when you start with such a small caloric count you can splurge a little on other ingredients.
And, don't forget the high FIBER count that's so important to our bodily functions.
One of the best pumpkin parts is the seeds! I love their other name: pepitas...isn't that adorable?
Folk medicine praises the pumpkin seed so much this was instrumental in the scientific community initiating a host of studies. A gram of roasted seeds contain a significant amount of tryptophan which is being studied for anxiety disorders. Although not enough for major depression the seeds are being used to prevent anxiety attacks and other mood disorders. So munch away to keep the blues at bay.
Pumpkin seeds have also been said to help with arteriosclerosis and to regulate cholesterol. They are rich in carbohydrates, amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids. Seeds contain most of the B vitamins along with C, D, E and K. Minerals abound with calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron and phosphorous.
Studies show they can relieve arthritis and protect our bones. The World's Healthiest Foods blog has a great article on pumpkins seeds HERE.
Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for parasites and kidney problems and called them cucurbitas--the Latin name for squash.
To roast seeds of pumpkins or winter squash just clean, season and pop in oven at 300 for 10-15 minutes. Ymmmmm.