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Earing Well With Whole Foods: Pumpkins

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski


November is the perfect time to enjoy the roasted seeds from your Halloween pumpkin and to feast on this fabulous fall fruit during your Thanksgiving Day meal. Pumpkins were a popular food of the Native American Indians who treasured them for their dietary and medicinal properties. The cultivation of pumpkins spread throughout the world when European explorers brought them back from the New World. Today, the leading commercial producers of pumpkins include the United States, Mexico, India and China. A member of the gourd or Cucurbitaceae family, the pumpkin is a relative of the squash fruit. The pumpkin varies greatly in form, from globular to its more common oblong or ovoid shapes. Although most commonly orange, pumpkins range in color from dark green, to red, to yellow, and even white. Some pumpkins can grow to 80 pounds but smaller ones are more common. The largest pumpkin on record weighed in at 1689 pounds!

Pumpkin’s vivid orange hue is a great signifier that it’s loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offer protection against heart disease as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.

Pumpkin seeds have become increasingly more popular due to studies showing their natural healing benefits. Inside the white hull of the pumpkin seed is an edible, green-colored seed that is commonly referred to as a "pepita" in North and South America. Pumpkin seeds are featured in the recipes of many cultures and are a staple of traditional Mexican cuisine. These subtly sweet and nutty seeds are a good source of iron, zinc, essential fatty acids, potassium, and magnesium. Pumpkin seeds may promote prostate health since components in their oil appear to interrupt the triggering of prostate cell multiplication by testosterone and DHT. The naturally occurring zinc in the seeds may help protect against age-related bone loss. A diet rich in pumpkin seeds may also help alleviate arthritis due to anti-inflammatory qualities. Chock-full of fiber, healthy fats and phytosterols – compounds found in plants that help reduce blood level cholesterol, enhance the immune system, and decrease risk of certain cancers – pumpkin seeds are truly a delicious and nutritious treat!

Although the pumpkin is botanically classified as a fruit, it is widely regarded as a vegetable in the culinary world. A pumpkin is very versatile. Its pulp can be enjoyed boiled, baked, or pureed and served in dishes such as pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, and pumpkin pie – a traditional staple of American Thanksgiving — and the seeds can be roasted as a snack. A simple way to prepare the seeds for eating is to separate them from the flesh, sprinkle them with sea salt and spices, place them on a baking sheet, and cook them in the oven at a low temperature. Additionally, pumpkin can be enjoyed as a delicious sweet treat mashed and topped with exotic spices like cinnamon and cumin. In the Middle East and South Asian countries pumpkin is a staple in sweet dishes such as Halawa Yaqtin, and Kadu ka Halwa, a pumpkin delicacy cooked with butter, sugar and spices. Don’t let that holiday pumpkin go to waste! Experiment with the seeds and pulp to make delicious and nutritious snacks, holiday pies and breads. You’ll be getting lots of vitamins and nutrients while naturally satisfying your sweet tooth at the same time.

Pumpkin Breakfast Bread

16 ounces fresh pumpkin (or canned if you’re short on time)

1.5 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 cups maple syrup

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon raisins

2.5 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 cup coconut oil

3 organic eggs

2/3 cups cold water

Sift together cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, sea salt, flour, and baking soda. Add oil, eggs, cold water and pumpkin.

Beat until mixed.

Grease & flour two 9 ¼ inch X 5 ¼ inch X 2 ½ inch loaf pans.

Fill pans 2/3 full.

Bake at 350F for one hour. Let cool. Enjoy! It’s delicious alone or topped with your favorite jam, or healthy spread.

 

 

 

 

 

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com , email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com, or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.


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