Pumpkin >> Facts and Tips About The Healthy Orange All-Rounder
Did you know that the pumpkin is actually a berry? There is a wide variety of pumpkins and squash, and they come in many different colors, shapes and sizes. The most popular ones are red kuri, butternut and spaghetti squash.
What can this versatile power fruit do for you?
With an average of 25 calories per 100g, the pumpkin is a low-calorie vegetable. In comparison, 100 grams of sweet potatoes has about 90 calories.
- It supplies many vitamins like beta-carotene (the precursor of vitamin A), vitamin C and vitamin E. A bowl of pumpkin soup contains significantly more vitamin A than the daily recommended amount, thus making it a real eye-saver. Beta-carotene is also responsible for the orange flesh of some pumpkins and squash.
- It is also a great source of minerals like potassium, magnesium and iron, as well as satiating dietary fiber.
- Pumpkin seeds and the oil pressed from them are particularly valuable due to their high vitamin E content and essential fatty acids. The amino acid contained within (tryptophan) is involved in the production of the “happy hormone” serotonin, a healthy mood enhancer. The seeds are also full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which have a positive effect on blood pressure, among other things.
What can’t you make with pumpkins?
The distinctive – yet very subtle – flavor of pumpkins and squash make them a very versatile ingredient. Depending on the type, they can taste neutral, delicately fruity, slightly sweet or nutty. The vegetable can be served as a main course, but it is also delicious in the form of pumpkin soup or as a side dish. They are also great in desserts (for instance, pumpkin strudel with apple and cinammon, cake, jam, compote etc.). Pumpkin puree even tastes good in coffee – have you ever tried a pumpkin spice latte before? Pumpkin & squash harmonize with many spices like thyme, oregano, basil, coriander, ginger, curry, as well as vanilla, cloves and cinammon.
You might also be interested in reading about healthy pumpkin treats for Halloween.
A dynamite duo: pumpkin and cayenne pepper
This combination will truly set your heart on fire. The spicy cayenne pepper and the sweet pumpkin really get your metabolism going. When it is cold outside, cayenne pepper is guaranteed to thaw you out. The finely ground powder from dried chili peppers widens your blood vessels and promotes blood circulation. This causes your body to heat up. An added benefit for all those sore muscles after a workout: Cayenne, when applied topically (compresses!), relieves muscle and joint pain.
Another powerhouse effect: The burning sensation on your tongue triggers the release of endorphins.
Tips for buying and storing pumpkins
Buying the right pumpkin
How can you tell if a pumpkin is ripe? The skin of the pumpkin should be free of nicks and scratches. Check for soft spots, and make sure the shell is firm by pressing against it with your thumbnail. The heavier the pumpkin, the better. If the pumpkin feels too light, choose a different one, because this one is probably nothing but fibrous strands and seeds.
Storing pumpkins properly
Dry, cool and airy – that is the way pumpkins like it. Depending on the variety, hard-shelled winter squash can be stored for several months. Be careful with softer summer squash like gem and pattypan squash: These types should be eaten as soon as possible.
Pumpkin & squash season
The summer squash season starts in June or July. The popular red kuri squash is a winter squash and is available from August to February. Winter squash is normally harvested in late summer/early autumn. Many varieties are available until January though.
Do you only use pumpkin and squash for fall decoration or do you like to cook with them, too? We are always looking for tasty recipes and we would love to hear yours.