The nutritional punch of pumpkin

From family field trips picking at the local patch to those infamous spiced lattes, pumpkins are a popular choice throughout the fall months. Natalie Kocks, dietetic intern, makes the case for this seasonal standout.

Contrary to popular belief, pumpkins are actually considered a fruit and are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. All those benefits and they contain no saturated fat or cholesterol.

Throughout history pumpkins have been revered for their health benefits. Pumpkins are high in fiber, potassium and Vitamin C, all of which support heart health. Their Vitamin C, Vitamin E and beta-carotene help prevent degenerative damage of the eyes.

Pumpkins are packed with nutrients and are low in calories. This versatile fruit is an optimal food, especially for weight loss promotion.

Nutrition facts:
1 cup of pumpkin, cooked, boiled and drained

  • 49 calories
  • 1.76 grams protein
  • 0.17 grams fat
  • 0 grams cholesterol
  • 12 grams carbohydrate
  • 2.7 grams fiber

Incorporating more of this fruit into your diet will aid in leading a healthful lifestyle, provide essential nutrients to your diet and add some variety to your meals. "Pumpkins are delicious, nutritional powerhouses that can be enjoyed year-round."  Kyla Zehr, Parkview registered dietitian said. Try this delicious soup as an introduction to cooking with this autumn treat.

Simple Pumpkin Soup

4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon garlic
2 1/4 cups water
1 29-ounce can of pumpkin (or 3 1/2 cups pumpkin purée)
1 12-ounce can light coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon brown sugar or maple syrup (optional)
Pumpkin seeds, pistachios and parsley, to garnish (optional)

1. Melt the butter or margarine in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Cook and stir in the garlic.
3. Heat the water for 1-2 minutes. Add to the pan. 
4. Stir in the pumpkin puree, coconut milk, pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar or maple syrup (if desired) and cook until heated through, about 5-6 minutes.
5. Let simmer on the stove on low heat until ready to eat.
6. Garnish with a touch of pumpkin seeds, pistachios and/or a sprig of parsley. Refrigerate or freeze extras for easy to reheat sides or snacks.

Tip: Go light on the maple syrup/brown sugar or avoid completely to decrease the calories and fat.

Adapted from a recipe featured on Dietitian Cassie.


Other resources:
http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/1115p20.shtml

 

            

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