Peter Pumpkin Eater is one healthy guy. Pumpkin is one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant colour. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body once it is eaten.
Consuming foods rich in beta-carotene can reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, offer protection against asthma and heart disease, and delay aging and body degeneration.
Pumpkin is also an excellent source of thiamine and riboflavin, and a good source of vitamin C. The seeds are rich in protein and a good source of iron.
Pumpkins, like other squash, are thought to have originated in North America. Pumpkin-related seeds, dating between 7000 and 5500 BC, have been found in Mexico.
“Pumpkin” first appeared in 17th century literature when the Cinderella fairy tale was written. You will remember the lady’s coach turned into a pumpkin at midnight.
Pumpkin gets its name from the Greek word pepon which means cooked by the sun.”
Although the jack-o-lantern variety of pumpkins is edible, it is best to look for the sweet or pie pumpkin varieties for cooking as these are smaller and sweeter.
Pumpkin can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months. Once fresh pumpkin is cut up, it should be wrapped in plastic, refrigerated and used within five days. It can also be cooked and frozen for up to six months.
With files from Foodland Ontario
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
There is no cream in this creamy soup.
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 medium stalks)
1 cup chopped onions (about 2 small)
2 tbsp Kraft calorie-wisebalsamic vinaigrette dressing
4 cups cut-up fresh pumpkin (1-inch pieces)
(substitute 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) pumpkin)
2 cans (10 fl oz/ 284 mL each) low sodium chicken broth
2 soup cans water
1/2 cupMiracle Whip calorie-wisespread
Cook celery and onions in vinaigrette dressing in large saucepan on medium-high heat for five minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add pumpkin, broth and water; stir until well blended. Bring to boil; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until pumpkin is tender.
Add pumpkin mixture to blender in batches; cover. Blend until smooth. Return to saucepan.
Stir inMiracle Whip; cook for two to three minutes or just until heated through, stirring frequently. (Do not boil.)
(Recipe courtesy of Kraft Canada)
Pumpkin Maple Bundt Cake
Fall flavours of pumpkin and maple come together for a perfect dessert.
2-1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) each baking powder and ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each ground allspice and nutmeg
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (175 mL) packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup (175 mL) maple syrup
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) cooked pie pumpkin purée
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
Spray 10-inch (3 L) bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, allspice, nutmeg and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, using electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar and maple syrup until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time until smooth. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until well combined. Spread into prepared pan, smooth top and bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for about 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on wire rack for five minutes.