Veg in focus: The powerful pumpkin
Pumpkins are loaded with vitamin C, E, iron and folate, and taste delicious in soups, curries and cakes By Guilda Akopians
W ith October upon us, pumpkins can be found in abundance as they are in full season. They are a super nutritious vegetable and versatile when it comes to cooking and baking. Pumpkins offer vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and folate, which all help to support the immune system, as well as beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant and great for our skin. Enjoying pumpkin as part of a healthy diet can help our immune cells work better to ward off germs (especially now heading into the cold and flu season) and with speeding up the healing of any scratches or wounds.
What is a pumpkin?
Pumpkins are part of the squash family and come in many forms, varieties and colours. They are usually large, round and orange, with a tough and smooth outer skin. Inside the pumpkin you will find the delicious flesh and nutritious seeds.
When cooked, the whole pumpkin is edible, including the skin! You may just need to remove the stringy bits that connect the seeds to the flesh. In the month of October, the following fruits and vegetables are in season however, I want to shine the spotlight on the almighty 'Pumpkin'!
One cup of pumpkin contains just 50 calories, 12g of carbs, 3g fibre, 2g protein, and a good balance of vitamin K, C and E, as well as potassium, iron and folate.
How to enjoy pumpkins
Pumpkins can be eaten in a number of ways.
Pumpkin soup is perfect for the colder weather, as it is both warming and filling.
1 Roast the flesh with skin on, a little
olive oil, salt and pepper and a dash
of cinnamon for 30 minutes at 180°C/360°F/Gas 4.
2 Add other veggies into a pot (potatoes, celery, carrots) along with the
cooked pumpkin and add enough water to cover veggies.
3 Simmer for 30 minutes, add ½ can coconut milk, mix using a
handheld mixer until smooth.
4 Top with dry roasted pumpkin seeds and a parsley/coriander leaf
Over the winter months, it is especially nice to enjoy a warm salad when you want something light yet filling and nutritious.
1 Cook some black wild rice
or quinoa (providing your
2 Mix this with cooked black beans or chickpeas (for your plant-based
protein), roasted red peppers or any veg you like.
3 Top with some roasted pumpkin slices (roasted in the same way as
mentioned above, in the soup recipe).
4 Accompany the dish with a balsamic, olive oil and freshly grated
ginger, salt and pepper dressing and some chopped coriander garnish
for that extra freshness