The changing of the seasons means shifting into our root vegetables and gourds, and what better place than to start with pumpkins? Pumpkin purees are super-affordable and easy to add to soups, stews, chilis, smoothies, oatmeal, and even mac and cheese! Read on for some nutritional benefits of this slightly sweet, earthy veggie.
Fun Facts: Pumpkins are a type of squash believed to be first cultivated in North America, particularly in Mexico as far back as 5500 B.C. The pumpkin is a hardy fall vegetable, and Antarctica is the only continent that can’t support its growth!
Storage: Store pumpkins in a cool dry place and they will last 2-3 months; if you have room in a refrigerator, you can increase the shelf life to 5 months. Canned pumpkin is also a great choice, with a longer shelf life and more fiber per serving than fresh pumpkin.
Preparation: The flesh, seeds, leaves, and flowers of a pumpkin are all edible. Most typically, the flesh is boiled, roasted, steamed, or even microwave. It can then be cubed or mashed as a side dish, or pureed and added to stews, soups, pies, and even smoothies or oatmeal. It can be seasoned sweetly with maple or brown sugar, with warm spices such as clove and nutmeg, or as a savory stuffing in an Italian dish like ravioli.
Nutrition: A 1-cup serving of cooked, mashed pumpkin provides 49 calories, 2 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber (a 1-cup serving of canned pumpkin provides 7 grams fiber.) It provides a whopping 124% of our daily value of vitamin A, important for our immune system as well as skin and eye health. It’s also a good source of vitamin C, providing 19% of our daily value; also important for our immune system functioning. Pumpkin is also a good source of vitamin E, potassium, riboflavin, copper, and manganese.