Health benefits of Pumpkin:
Pumpkins are one of the lowest calorie vegetables. 100 gram fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. They are rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins A, C and E. This vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
Pumpkins are one of the vegetables in the Cucurbitaceae family featuring high levels of vitamin-A, providing about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help a body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.
Pumpkins are also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body. Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in retina of the eyes. Thus, it helps protect from "age-related macular disease" (ARMD) in the elderly. Pumpkins are a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Don’t forget to eat the seeds! Pumpkin seeds indeed are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. Further, the seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan.
This month we tried two new recipes using pumpkin. One is for a delicious pumpkin popcorn and the other is a Smoky Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Tempeh and Kale. Both were very delicious and definitely ones we will be adding into our collection of favorite pumpkin dishes!
The first recipe is for Pumpkin Candied Popcorn. This popcorn was a perfect snack for a Halloween craft night.
Pumpkin Candied Popcorn
Recipe from www.thegraciouspantry.com
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup honey
3/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1/4 cup popcorn kernels, air popped
- Pop the popcorn in an air popper. Add to large bowl and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine all other ingredients and whisk while you bring it to a soft boil. Whisk until the pumpkin is completely dissolved.
- Pour the sauce over the popcorn and stir until all the popcorn is coated. Place the cooled bowl of popcorn in the fridge for about 3 hours.
Smoky Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Tempeh and Kale
Recipe from www.veganchef.com
1- 3 pound pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1-1/2 cups non-dairy milk
½ cup nutritional yeast
1-1/2 tbsp tapioca starch or flour
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
¾ tsp chili powder
½ tsp smoke paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin
8 oz, tempeh, cut into ½ inch cubes
1-1/2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
12 oz pasta of choice (elbow, shells, penne or other)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil, optional
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 cup chopped kale
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a parchment lined cookie sheet, place pumpkin cubes in a single layer and season lightly with salt. Roast pumpkin for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes
- Transfer half of the roasted pumpkin to a blender or food processor. Add non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, tapioca starch, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, chili powder, paprika, cayenne and cumin and blend 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
- In a small bowl, stir together tempeh and tamari and set aside for 10 minutes.
- In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking water and drain pasta into a colander.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add tempeh and olive oil (can omit oil and just use 2 tablespoons water). Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add kale and reserved cooking water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Remove the skillet from heat.
- Meanwhile, reuse the large pot and cook the pumpkin cheese sauce over medium heat, whisking often, for 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove pot from heat. Stir in the cooked pasta, followed by the remaining roasted pumpkin and tempeh-kale mixture. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top and serve.
Make It Healthy and Make It Fun!