From the cooler weather gradually rolling on in to the changing colors of the falling leaves, the fall season is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Have you noticed the invigorating and alluring smell of fall in the air? Since fall has already begun, we are seeing apple orchards everywhere dripping with the delicious fruit and bright green farm fields have magically turned orange…it’s the season of pumpkins!
Taking a weekend trip to a pumpkin patch is not only fun, but it is also a chance for you to spend some quality time outdoors in the fresh air of nature. Support your nearby small farmers by getting pumpkins from a local pumpkin patch! When selecting your Halloween pumpkins, choose ones that appear fresh (or fresher) picked and that have been grown organically without pesticides. Why is this important? Because you should cook-‘em-up instead of throwing them away when Halloween and Thanksgiving are over, or slice one up now for a healthy and nutritious meal or pie.
While pumpkins make for wonderful jack-o-lanterns to place on your front porch and look pretty as decorations for the Thanksgiving holiday, this squash meat also offers incredible health benefits when eaten. However, do not eat a pumpkin you have carved for Halloween that has been left sitting out in the elements as you could become sick. Cook only freshly harvested, newly sliced, or frozen pumpkin and preferably organic. Virtually all varieties of pumpkin are edible, but specific ones like the Sugar Pie are cultivated for the purpose of eating, pie making.
- Do you know that pumpkins are fruits, not vegetables? Pumpkins are from the family genus Cucurbita which grow on vines and are classified as a berry! Family genus Cururbita includes melons, cucumbers, squash, and gourds, all in various colors.
- Pumpkin is a low calorie food containing disease fighting antioxidants and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. The orange color squash, and other yellow and orange color fruits and vegetables, is a rich source of such vitamins and minerals as vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
- In just one cup (a single serving) of cooked pumpkin or puree, you are getting more than 200 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A comes from the beta-carotene in pumpkin, which helps to protect your eyes from cataracts and degeneration. Also important for night vision and immune system health.
- Looking to shed a few pounds during the holidays? A fiber rich diet may help you to eat less! With one serving of cooked pumpkin containing about 3 grams of fiber, pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber that can keep you fuller longer.
- One and a half cups of cooked pumpkin has almost 6 grams of vitamin C, nearly 10 percent of your recommended daily intake. Vitamin C is an immune system booster and helps your body to fight against infection and disease. This also contributes to rebuilding and protecting your skin and protects against cardiovascular and heart disease.
Pumpkin meat is not the only part of the squash that offers health benefits:
Pumpkin seeds are packed with protein and potassium, and high in minerals such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and manganese. Enjoy pumpkin seeds toasted or roasted either plain or with other foods! Learn more about the health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds, here.
Pies, cookies, breads, pastas, soups, puree, and stews, in the spirit of the fall season, here are some delicious plant-based pumpkin recipes from One Green Planet! What’s your favorite recipe that includes pumpkin?
Halloween is just around the corner and Jack O’ Lanterns are an essential part of the holiday. Don’t let the rest of the pumpkin go to waste. Make pumpkin pie, while you celebrate October 31.