Halloween is only a few days away, and because it is my favourite holiday I have decided to write another Halloween related blog. Last week I wrote about candy, chocolate and chips and some strategies to help keep your intake under control. This week I am going to take a different approach and write about one of the most prominent symbols of Halloween. Pumpkin. A pumpkin is more than jack-o-lantern, the head for the headless horseman or a carriage for Cinderella. Pumpkins are nutritious a food….a member of the squash family to be specific. While pumpkins are readily available for purchase, many of us do not include pumpkin in our diets. It is time many of us give eating pumpkin a try. I am not talking about the pumpkin flavouring found in a pumpkin latte or the traces of pumpkin found in some retail muffins and cookies. I am talking about foods where pumpkin is a major ingredient.
Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), a source of fibre and vitamin C and is naturally low in fat. Pumpkin in nutrient dense, with less than 50 calories per half cup. Ontario is a major producer of pumpkins and they are generally quite inexpensive at this time of year. Pumpkin is available fresh, where the flesh can be boiled and drained, or canned without any additives.
Pumpkin is a great addition to muffins or cookies, making them soft and nutritious. Try a bowl of warm pumpkin soup on a cool fall day or add pumpkin to casseroles. The mild taste of pumpkin goes well with a number of spices such as nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, allspice or even ginger.
If you are someone who craves crunchy snacks, try roasting pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are rich in protein and are also a source of fibre and iron. Season the seeds to suit your tastes. If you like spicy, try cayenne pepper and/or chili powder with garlic powder. If you prefer something sweet, try brown sugar and cinnamon on the pumpkin seed.
Canada’s Food Guide recommends Canadians eat at least one orange vegetable per day and also recommends we eat a variety of foods. Consider adding pumpkin to your day and have a Happy Halloween!