Friday, November 16, 2007

It's the Great Pumpkin!

Fridays are all about nutrition
picture by Meowcat93

It's that big orange fall treat some of us long for all year - pumpkin. Of course, like many pumpkin lovers, I am a big fan of pumpkin pie. There is also soup, cookies, cheesecake, casserole and many other pumpkin treats. Best of all, I can indulge my artistic tendencies at Halloween and then compost the shell. I can eat the seeds or plant them for next year. But wait there's more! It's slices; it dices; and IT'S NUTRITIOUS!

Pumpkin is native to the Americas and quickly took over the spooky job of being a Jack O'Latern from beets and turnips. Colonists would cut off the top and scoop out the seeds. Then they would put in milk, spices and honey and cook the pumpkin in hot ashes. Check out more about pumpkins and their history.

Pumpkins belong to the Cucurbita family which includes butternut squash, summer squash, zucchini and cucumbers. Check out the Pumpkin Nook for fun activities and other facts about pumpkins, including how to grow prize winning giant pumpkins.

Now back to nutrition. The orange skin of the pumpkin is a clue to its nutrition secrets. Fruits and vegetables with bright orange color are high in beta-carotene which your body uses in creating vitamin A. Beta-carotene has also been linked to cancer prevention and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Pumpkin seeds are reputed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Pumpkin is also high in potassium - another essential nutrient. And guess what else - no salt or cholesterol. Yep. That's right no salt AND no cholesterol.

Now if I eat it my favorite way in pie, I am sure to have salt and cholesterol. I can reduce those items and the fat from the pie plus make it overall more healthy in the following ways. Substitute low fat condensed milk or low fat vanilla soy milk. Use whole wheat pie crust or low fat pie crust. Cut down on the number of eggs, use egg whites instead of whole eggs or use an appropriate egg substitute. Use Splenda instead of sugar.

Yeah riiiight.

You could do all that substitution or you could use all the real stuff and eat less.

Yeah riiight.

Who am I kidding? I'll eat less pumpkin pie when there's less in the refrigerator. Seriously, though. A healthy recipe is out there. I believe if you make pumpkin pie with fresh, organic, local ingredients (except for the spices), you will eat less because the food will be so satisfying, you'll won't be craving more...

Until the morning.

Oh, I do love cold pumpkin pie, too.

No ice cream please.

This is breakfast.

Let's have a moment of silence.
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