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fall pumpkins
Published By Michele Fan on October 11, 2018

Pumpkins are in season. Not only do they make an excellent decoration for your front porch, but they also are highly nutritious and versatile as a food source.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Value of Pumpkins

Studies suggest that pumpkins can reduce the risk of cancer, regulate blood pressure, reduce blood sugar and help maintain colon health. Pumpkins are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C; their seeds are high in antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids.

Although fresh pumpkin has the highest nutritional value, frozen and canned pumpkin are great alternatives, as well. If you are using canned pumpkin, salt and sugar may been added. Adjust your recipe accordingly to avoid consuming an excess amount of sodium and sugar.

How to Peel Pumpkin Easily

Do you like pumpkin but feel that it is too hard to peel or even cut for cooking and baking? You could:

  • Roast the pumpkin
    Depending on the size, you could put a whole pumpkin into the oven and bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 60 minutes. When the skin becomes darker, take the pumpkin out and let it cool. The skin will be soft enough to peel easily. You can cut the pumpkin into chunks or puree the cooked pumpkin.
  • Microwave the pumpkin
    Chop the pumpkin into halves or chunks, and put them cut-side down on a microwavable plate with some water in it. Microwave the pumpkin until the skin is soft. Let the pumpkin cool before peeling the skin.

Fresh Pumpkin Recipes

Here are five ways to enjoy the health benefits of pumpkin:

1. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Save the seeds when you carve your jack-o’-lantern! Small but mighty, pumpkin seeds are rich in minerals. They are said to improve sleep quality, too!

2. Sausage and Rice Stuffed Pumpkins
Small pumpkins are perfect for this savory recipe. If you are cooking for a loved one with diabetes, you may replace the rice in this recipe with quinoa to cut down on carbohydrates.

3. Pumpkin and Corn Risotto
This vegetarian recipe uses both the pumpkin flesh and seeds. Pair this risotto dish with a crisp apple salad on the side!

4. Delicious Pumpkin Bread
You may cut one cup of sugar out of this recipe to make it less sweet. To make it even healthier, some bakers suggest using half brown sugar and half white sugar, and replacing a half cup of oil with a half cup of applesauce.

5. Pumpkin Flan
If you want more of a pumpkin pie flavor, you may substitute nutmeg for pumpkin spice. At 100 calories per serving, this pumpkin flan is definitely a healthier alternative to a regular pumpkin pie!

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