Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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Pumpkin Power
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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It’s the season for pumpkins! If your family likes to carve them, bake with them, or use them for decorations you can still reap the benefits of the bright orange pumpkin. First, some facts about pumpkins:

  • Pumpkins are  actually a squash in the same family as cucumbers.
  • In early colonial times, pumpkins were used in the crust of pies, and not as filling.
  • Pumpkins are 90% water.
  • Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins and made floor mats out of them ( dried first of course).
  • The pumpkin capital is in Morton Illinois, were the Libby© company is located.
  • And, in case you were wondering, the tradition of carving pumpkins was started by Irish immigrants, who used to carve turnips, but when they came to America, they found pumpkins and used them because they were easier to carve for their holiday, Halloween.

Since pumpkins are of an orange color that means, like carrots and peppers, they are chock-full of vitamins A and Potassium, magnesium and zinc. Pumpkins are low in calories ( naturally 49 cal/cup) and low in carbs ( 12g/cup) and 3 g of those carbs are fiber they also contain “some” protein at 2g/cup. Pumpkin seeds, which are often roasted contain 44% of the RDA for Zinc (1 cup), 42% of the RDA for magnesium (1 cup) and, 12% of the RDA for Iron ( 1 cup).

Here are some ideas of what you can do with those nutritious orange orbs, besides a pie.

  • Cut a pumpkin in half, clean out well and use as a pumpkin bowl for soups, and dips such as caramel. Check out the websites below for more dip ideas.
  • Place 1-2 cups of pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and spread out evenly. Try seasoning with salt, cinnamon and brown sugar, or tamari, or any other of your favorite flavors. Place in a oven heated to 160F for 15-20 minutes. They can be kept in a canister for later if you wish.

Assistance provided by Christina Wolfe

One thought on “Pumpkin Power

  1. I have been interested in pumpkin carving folklore. My favorite reason behind the season goes along with your turnip carving.

    The legend of Stingy Jack has Jack’s spirit wandering between Heaven and Hell with only a flame in a turnip to light his way at night.Jack with his lantern may be the basis of our Jack O’Lantern.

What do you think?

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