Pumpkin; for breakfast, lunch or dinner
Pumpkin, a nutritional gift from the Americas, yet more often associated with Jack-o-lanterns through the marrying of Halloween traditions of Scotch-Irish American settlers with local produce. However, Native Americans long knew the value of squash. Roasting pumpkin strips over campfires, they also ate pumpkin seeds and used them as a medicine. Indeed, pumpkin was one of the ‘three sisters’ which traditionally thrive together, the other two being corn and beans. The beans grew on the corn stalks, helping to bind them together against the wind, as well as enriching the soil with nitrogen. Meanwhile the pumpkins sheltered the shallow roots of the corn while discouraging weeds and preserving moisture. No wonder the indigenous people had such a healthy diet!
Today pumpkins can feature in risotto, stews, casseroles, soups, making bread and pies or simply roasted – though less so over campfires anymore. In Just Routine Recipes there are no less than four fabulous ideas:
- for breakfast, Pumpkin Oats
- for lunch, a vegetarian Curried Pumpkin and Apple Soup
- for dinner, Chicken Curry with Pumpkin and Thai Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin – food for exercise
Consider eating pumpkin after a hard exercise routine. As a great source of potassium, this makes it a great post-workout fuel, while aiding with muscle mass and preserving bone density. And if you are exercising to help control your blood pressure, bear in mind the added benefits of consuming adequate potassium – this is nearly as important as reducing salt intake.
Pumpkin – food for better health
The indigenous North Americans kindly introduced pumpkins and squashes to the Pilgrim fathers. This proved to be very important for them, as they stored well, providing a nutritious food source during the winter months. With pumpkins served at the second Thanksgiving celebration, they have been integral to the American story ever since, with some suggesting the Virginia settlement wouldn’t have survived without their nutritional richness.
- Pumpkin contains some of the highest levels of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. This vitamin can offer protection against asthma, delay aging and body degeneration.
- Regular consumption of pumpkin could also improve cardiovascular health.
- Pumpkin comes out among the top three food sources in several studies for containing lutein, zeaxanthin (both important antioxidants vital for eye health) and beta-kryptoxanthin.
- A serving of pumpkin is a good source of vitamin C, which offers the immune system a boost.
- It also supplies the antioxidant mineral manganese, which helps the body form connective tissue and sex hormones.
It appears the combination of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in pumpkin also have shown this food to have potential cancer prevention and cancer treatment qualities, in particular for prostate, breast, colon and lung cancers. According to Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition, a diet high in beta-carotene has shown positive benefits against the protection against prostate cancer.
Don’t forget about the seeds
When cooking with pumpkin don’t throw away the seeds, instead use them in baking, cooking or making muesli. Pumpkin seeds can stimulate the kidneys, helping them to function correctly and preventing residue remaining in the kidneys from forming stones. Moreover, pumpkin seeds contain an abundance of essential fatty acids.
Note: If you use canned pumpkin, check for additives – it should only contain pumpkin. And avoid canned pumpkin pie mix, as this contains added sugars. Always read the label!
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