Why Pumpkins are so Gourd for You

Pumpkins are as much a part of fall as cozy scarves, hot tea and pretty, colourful leaves. But if you just think of this rotund squash as a component of your favourite Thanksgiving dessert, it’s time to think outside the pie. Pumpkin is actually a nutritional powerhouse, and it couldn’t be easier to work into your diet year-round thanks to great options both fresh and canned. Read on for all the reasons why you should make a beeline for that pumpkin patch.

First of all, pumpkin is super high in fibre, which slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Plus, it slows the absorption of sugar into your blood – which is great news for anyone worried about diabetes. In just one cup of canned pumpkin, you’ll get seven grams of fibre – and in a cup of cooked, fresh pumpkin, you’ll get 3 grams. Not too shabby.

You might have already guessed it from its bright orange colour, but pumpkin is also packed with beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Why is that such a good thing? Well, for starters, vitamin A is crucial for maintaining healthy eyesight – not to mention it helps boost your immune system, fight infections and might even lower your risk of some cancers. The good news? You get about 200% of your recommended daily dose from just one cup of pumpkin. Not to mention 20% of your daily vitamin C, which is welcome news during cold season.

Still not convinced? Enter potassium. Getting enough potassium in your diet can help prevent high blood pressure, reduce your risk of stroke and keep your bones healthy. And the mighty pumpkin is full of the stuff. The crazy thing is, despite being incredibly nutritionally dense, pumpkin is also surprisingly low in calories due to its high water content. Too gourd to be true, right? (Sorry.)

So how can you get more of this magical plant in your diet? First, you need to know how to buy it. If you’re looking for a fresh pumpkin, choose one that’s firm and heavy for its size, with no spots or blemishes on the skin. You’ll be able to store that baby in a cool, dry place for up to two months! If you’re buying canned, skip the sugar-heavy pumpkin pie mix and look for pumpkin puree with no salt added.

Here are just a few ideas on how to get a little more pumpkin in your life:

  • Use pumpkin puree to replace butter or oil in baking recipes like muffins and quickbreads.
  • Add cooked, pureed pumpkin to oatmeal and top with chopped nuts and a touch of maple syrup.
  • Try making a warming soup using pureed pumpkin and sweet potato.
  • Try adding pumpkin to your favourite pancake or waffle recipe.
  • Craving mac and cheese? Try using pureed pumpkin to replace some of the cheese and cream for a healthy update.
  • Two words: pumpkin smoothie. Just trust us on this one…
  • Don’t forget the seeds! If you buy a fresh pumpkin, be sure to toss the seeds with oil and a little salt, and roast them in the oven.

Did we miss your favourite use for this oh-so autumnal ingredient? Let us know! Just drop us a line at blog@madradish.com.