Pumpkin: The Health Food Packed with Power
As one of the most nutritional foods available year round, the pumpkin is so much more than a seasonal craft with a crooked smile. Before you toss out the gooey parts of your orange gourd, discover the hidden health benefits of pumpkins, both inside and out.
Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, both the flesh and seeds of the pumpkin provide many health-boosting, disease-fighting nutrients, including:
- Alpha and beta-carotene
- Vitamins A, C and E
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
The alpha and beta-carotene found in pumpkins are potent antioxidants, which convert to vitamin A inside the body. Vitamin A promotes healthy vision and ensures proper immune function, while alpha-carotene is thought to slow the aging process, prevent tumor growth, and reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Carotenoids also boost immunity and lessen the risk of heart disease.
Pumpkins Make Weight Loss Less Scary
Dieticians recommend pumpkin as a cholesterol control and weight reduction helper. As a fantastic source of fiber, pumpkin keeps you feeling full so you eat less and shed pounds. Pumpkin seeds are rich in phytosterols which reduce "bad" cholesterol and rich in the amino acid tryptophan which is a mood booster. So you can keep your outlook bright as you watch those pounds melt away.
Great Pumpkin Recipes for Any Time of Year
Roasted Pumpkin Pilaf
- 2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkins (can use butternut squash, acorn or other squash in place of pumpkin)
- 1 ½ cups peeled and cubed sweet potato
- Olive oil
- 1 cup of diced onion
- ⅓ cup of diced celery
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup of wild or brown rice
- 2 tsp of chopped sage
- ½ tsp of ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp of salt
- 1 bay leaf and
- 8 oz fresh cranberries
- ¼ cup water
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Arrange pumpkin and sweet potato in an even layer on a pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until tender and just until vegetables begin to brown, stirring after 18 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add broth and remaining ingredients to onion mixture, stirring to combine; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes or until rice is done and liquid is mostly absorbed.
- Meanwhile, heat fresh cranberries in a saute pan with about ¼ cup water until they are tender.
- Remove everything from heat; discard bay leaf. Add pumpkin mixture and cranberries to rice; stir gently to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
(Recipe credit: Food-Life Balance)
Crock Pot Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili
- cooking spray (I used my Misto)
- 2 lb 99% lean ground turkey
- ½ tsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp chili powder, to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 (15 oz cans) white northern or navy beans (I prefer Goya) rinsed and drained
- 15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 4.5 oz canned chopped green chili
- 2 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth
- chopped cilantro and chives for topping
- salt and pepper to taste
- low fat sour cream for topping (optional)
- Heat a large heavy sauté pan over high heat and lightly spray with oil. Add meat and cook, breaking it up until white, about 5 minutes. Add to crock pot.
- Add oil to the saute pan, then onions, garlic, sauté about 3 - 4 minutes; add cumin and sauté another minute.
- Add to crock pot. Add beans, pumpkin puree, green chilis, broth, chili powder, oregano, and bay leaves. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
- Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste before serving. Enjoy!
(Recipe credit: Gina's Skinny Recipes)