Pumpkin, one of my favorite winter squashes, comes to center stage during the month of November. Both the fleshy part and the seeds are nutrient-rich and work well in both sweet and savory dishes.
Pumpkin flesh (or the mushy part) is a fantastic source of fiber, potassium and beta-carotene (an antioxidant and precursor to vitamin A). Pumpkin seeds also get a gold star for nutritional content. They are high in minerals such as magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc. They are also a good source of protein and Linoleic Acid, an essential fatty acid.
Pumpkin can play an important role in lowering blood pressure. A diet rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, while limited in sodium, can help lower blood pressure. See the DASH Diet (“Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”) for more information.
Although pumpkin flesh is low in calories, the seeds are not! This is great news for those of you trying to GAIN weight – enjoy! If you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight, then exercise portion control. If you buy packaged seeds, then choose the smaller ¾ oz – 1 oz snack sizes to limit calories to about 90 – 120 calories. If you prefer to roast your own, limit the amount of oil you add to seeds before roasting to help control calorie content. As well, either limit added salt or choose brands that limit salt. For instance, David brand contains only 5 mg of sodium in their ¾ oz package. That is excellent considering most of us need to limit sodium to 2300 mg or less every day. Check out this webpage from the "World’s Healthiest Foods" for a information on how to roast pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin desserts are often lower in calories than other desserts because the pumpkin creates body and moisture with very little fat content. Although this can help lower calorie content somewhat, pumpkin desserts are not necessarily low in calories. Weight control always boils down to calories so watch portion control of pumpkin desserts just as you would with other desserts. For more information about calories and weight control, please read my articles published at MyNetDiary. And while you are there, be sure to test drive their super diet and exercise tracker.
All Recipes: savory pumpkin recipes
Cooking Light: sweet recipes
Ellie Krieger’s Pumpkin Flan
Ellie Krieger’s Pumpkin Pie Muffins
University of Illinois Extension: sweet & savory recipes
Please share ideas and recipes about pumpkin by posting a comment. Thanks so much for reading my blog.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
Katherine Isacks, Registered Dietitian, LLC