Did You Know . . . Pumpkin’s bright orange health-enhancing antioxidants can be easily included in your snacks and meals.
Behind that smile of the Jack O’ Lantern lies a delicious vegetable that provides a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin A and fiber and has only 40 calories per half-cup serving. Pumpkin is much more than a Halloween must-have, it’s a nutrient-rich and versatile vegetable rich in carotenoids, which are responsible for the bright orange color and also are health-enhancing antioxidants. Beta-carotene is important for maintaining healthy eyes, lungs, heart function and circulation. Pumpkin seeds are packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant power, making it a super food!
Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes
Stir together the flours, sugar, flax, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda in a small mixing bowl and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, using a whisk, blend the buttermilk, egg, oil and pumpkin puree until blended. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until combined, but do not over beat. Add a little extra buttermilk if needed to make the batter the proper consistency. Cook as you would for regular pancakes. Makes 8 pancakes.
Pumpkin Day Outing:
Head to your local pumpkin patch to choose jack-o-lanterns, go on a hayride or enjoy other seasonal pleasures outside. Pack a picnic lunch if you like, and if there’s a farmers’ market or cider-press near the pumpkin patch, be sure to visit and select some additional fall specialties. Make sure to purchase pasteurized cider. Consider purchasing a cooking pumpkin and trying your hand at homemade pumpkin puree.
Making Pumpkin Puree:
Cooking with Pumpkin:
It’s a shame that more people don’t eat pumpkin year ’round because whether you get your pumpkin from a can or from the squash itself, it makes a nutritious and tasty add-in to a wide variety of dishes:
While cooking pumpkins (sometimes called “sugar” pumpkins) can be found in the fall and winter months, using canned pumpkin delivers the same nutrition plus pantry convenience. When buying canned pumpkin, be sure to choose regular pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, which has added ingredients and is really only suitable for pie.
Carving Your Pumpkins? Keep The Seeds!
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a tasty jack-o-lantern bonus, and they’re some of the most nutritious seeds around. Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidant carotenoids, healthy omega-3 fats and fiber, and also provide a wide range of nutrients, including protein, iron, and a variety of health-promoting plant compounds called phytosterols. Roasted seeds make a great on-the-go snack or addition to salads, trail mix and cookies.
Roasting Pumpkin Seeds:
Note: pumpkin seeds can be a choking hazard to children. Consider letting young children taste one or two of the roasted seeds, but set the rest aside for older children and adults.
Kitty Broihier, MS, RD is a freelance writer, cookbook author and mother of two from South Portland, Maine.