Packed with vitamins and minerals, pumpkins add more than taste and color to your cuisine. Pumpkins are a sure thing when it comes to fall décor but the vibrant orange shells also house tasty fare on the inside. Fat-free, 49 calories per cup and loaded with vitamins and minerals—what’s not to love? Pumpkins are packed with beta-carotene, an important antioxidant. Researchers say a diet rich in beta-carotene foods may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and protect against heart disease.
But the benefits go beyond health. Pumpkins are versatile, and blend well with many different herbs and spices for both sweet and savory dishes. A few creative dishes include almond pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin chili, pumpkin pizza with gorgonzola cheese and pumpkin ginger ice cream.
Cooking with Pumpkins
Forgo cooking with the jumbo pumpkins you carve with the kids. Larger pumpkins are stringier and less tasty. Opt for the smaller sugar pumpkins for a smoother texture and sweeter taste.
Shopping for Pumpkins
Since it’s difficult to find fresh pumpkins after Thanksgiving, buy several in the fall and store them in a cool, dry place for use throughout the winter and spring. Canned pumpkin is a good substitute and you can’t beat the convenience.
The skin comes off easily if you cook the pumpkin instead of chopping it up when it is fresh. You can pop a small, whole pumpkin in the microwave—just poke it with many holes and cook it on high for a total of 15 minutes, checking it every 5 minutes.
- Pumpkins grow nearly all over the world.
- Pumpkins range in color from white to sage green, to deep green and dark orange.
- Pumpkins are a member of the squash family.
- Pumpkins are a fruit.
- Pumpkins are 90 percent water.
- Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.
- Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.