Pumpkin: The Nutrition Facts and Adding it to your Menu
Well the first question…Is the pumpkin a fruit or vegetable? Technically it comes from the squash family (which are actually fruits). Either way, the pumpkin and its seeds are nutritional powerhouses. The inside of the pumpkin is very versatile and can be used for many foods such as pie, soup, bread, in a casserole or as a side.
- Pumpkin is high in fibre, vitamin A and carotenoids (examples include beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein) which gives it the deep orange colour. Foods rich in carotenoids have been linked to a number of health promoting and disease-fighting activities.
- Canned pumpkin is nutritious and often more convenient than tackling the entire fruit/vegetable itself! Buy canned pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling (with added sugar and unnecessary ingredients).
- The pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are flat, dark green seeds. They are a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. A good source of zinc, iron, copper, protein and vitamin K. Pumpkin seeds should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage.
Adding pumpkin seeds to your healthy menu:
- Mix with sautéed vegetables
- Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of mixed green salads
- Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing
- Put chopped pumpkin seeds on your favorite hot or cold cereal
- Add pumpkin seeds to homemade oatmeal raisin cookie or granola recipes
- Take as a portable snack mixed with dried cranberries
Most people think of pumpkin as a Halloween decoration and not as a highly nutritious and interesting food. Experiment and enjoy!