While we’re still knee deep in pumpkin patches, it’s a great time to learn about how amazingly nutritious those pumpkins are for your body. They are fiber-rich, have more beta-carotene than carrots, and are a great source of many vitamins and minerals. They're so much more than just decorations, but they need to be prepared correctly to get the most health benefits. Read on to learn about the most healthy and delicious ways to cook with pumpkins.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, which not only boosts your immunity but also helps keep your skin healthy and acne-free. They contain medicinal properties as well, and have been found to be anti-parasitical. This means that eating them regularly may help you purge parasites that could be living in your intestinal tract.
Pumpkin seeds are also high in manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium – all minerals that are generally deficient in the diets of most people. They are quite high in protein too!
To make your own pumpkin seeds, simply scoop out the seeds from the pumpkin (save the rest of the pumpkin meat to eat or juice). Place them on a cookie sheet and clean off the pumpkin meat strands. Rinse in a colander so you don’t wash any of the precious seeds down the drain. Then sprinkle Himalayan salt them and place on a cookie sheet in a 200-degree oven for an hour or so until the seeds are thoroughly dried. It’s easy to make pumpkin seeds – and you have total control over the salt content.
If you’re feeling a little brave, you could add crushed red pepper or turmeric to the seeds for additional flavor.
Cooked Pumpkin as a Vegetable
Pumpkin meat is a good fiber source and can help prevent constipation. Hopefully saved the rest of the pumpkin when you made your pumpkin seeds. Cut the pumpkin into strips and then cut off the hard-outer rind. Chop the strips into bite-sized chunks and place them in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, and then serve with a protein dish. Delicious!
The easiest (but not the healthiest) way to make a pumpkin pie is not from scratch. When you are in a time crunch, using a can of pumpkin puree could be a life saver. There are many recipes online for great pumpkin pies, and now you can even purchase pie shells ready to go. Your total investment of time is only about 20 minutes, plus cooking time. Just so you understand the basics here, you’ll be mixing dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then combining them and pouring them into a pie crust. It doesn’t get much easier than that (and there are even organic purees available now).
This may sound weird at first but think of it as cold pumpkin soup. It can get tiring cubing pumpkin to cook it up as a vegetable side dish in your meal. That’s where juicing comes into the picture. What I like to do with a whole pumpkin, is first scoop out the seeds and then bake them. Then I use half the pumpkin for cubed pumpkin to eat as a vegetable, and the other half to juice.
Pumpkin juice is exceptionally anti-inflammatory, and if you have any areas of your body that are inflamed such as a wrist, finger, toe, or ankle, you could even make a pumpkin pack around the joint. Seriously, people swear by it!
When juicing the pumpkin, add a few apples, a few handfuls of spinach, a bunch of parsley and celery. If you’re adventurous, add ginger and lemon. This is a great-tasting drink that will sustain you for hours without spiking your blood sugar.
The next time you’re eating yogurt, why not add a few tablespoons of pumpkin puree to the yogurt? You’ll be adding a superfood to an already good super food. The pumpkin puree won’t change the flavor of the yogurt much.
When you make pancakes try adding up to ½ cup pumpkin puree to the mix. You can use either fresh or canned pumpkin. The pumpkin will give the pancakes a fiber boost and also add more body to the pancakes. You’ll feel more grounded and satiated when eating pumpkin pancakes, as the fiber delays hunger and helps prevent mood swings.
Pumpkins stay fresh for a few months as long as you keep them in a cool location. This makes it easy for you to purchase 7-10 pumpkins now during the season and then eat one every week! Make use of that gorgeous gourd after it turns into a jack-o-lantern. Your body will be screaming happily!