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Pumpkins, More than a Decoration

Posted: October 8, 2013

Fall decorating most likely includes pumpkins. But pumpkins are more than just a decoration. They are loaded with nutrition and do not have many calories.
pumpkins are loaded with nutrients for good health

pumpkins are loaded with nutrients for good health

Pumpkins bright orange color is a dead giveaway that they are loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids of which some is converted to vitamin A in the body. The remaining Beta – carotene is used as an antioxidant, which protects the body against disease.

In the conversion to vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health. Some of those functions of Vitamin A are: promotes good vision, healthy tissue and skin, and aids in both the male and female reproductive systems. Vitamin A also supports growth specifically in bone remodeling or the break down and growth of bone.

One cup of cooked pumpkin, boiled, drained, without salt has only 49 calories, 2 grams of protein, and 564 mg of potassium. It has a whopping 22650 International Units of Vitamin A! Cooked pumpkin also has 3 grams of fiber for every cup.

Adding pumpkin to your list of vegetables you eat is a great idea. Here are a few steps to follow when using a fresh “pie or sweet” pumpkin. These are smaller than the large jack-o-lantern pumpkins and the flesh is sweeter and less watery. However, you can use the jack-o-lantern variety with fairly good results.

Look for a pumpkin with 1 to 2 inches of stem left. If the stem is cut down too low the pumpkin will decay quickly or may be decaying at the time of purchase. Avoid pumpkins with blemishes and soft spots. It should be heavy, shape is unimportant. A lopsided pumpkin is not necessarily a bad pumpkin. Here is a recipe to make pumpkin puree.

Remove the stem with a sharp knife. Cut in half with a sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and scrape away all of the stringy mass. A messy job, but it will pay off. Save the pumpkin seeds if you plan to roast them for a delicious snack.

Cut the pumpkin into rather large chunks, then rinse them in cold water. Place the pieces in a large pot with about a cup of water. The water does not need to cover the pumpkin pieces. Cover the pot with a lid and boil the pumpkin pieces for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, or steam for 10 to 12 minutes. Check for tenderness by poking with a fork. Drain the cooked pumpkin in a colander.

When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, remove the peel using a small sharp knife and your fingers. Put the peeled pumpkin in a food processor and puree or use a food mill, ricer, strainer or potato masher to form a puree. Pumpkin puree freezes well. Substitute the same amount in any recipe calling for solid pack canned pumpkin. One pound of raw, untrimmed pumpkin yields approximately one cup of finished pumpkin puree.