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Enjoy Some Pumpkin

Besides tasting good, pumpkin is an excellent source of beta carotene, a pigment that our bodies use to make vitamin A.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist
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NDSU Extension Service
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As I drove home yesterday, I admired the color changes of
fall. Green leaves are beginning to turn orange and gold. Fall
decorations are appearing in windows and doorways. Soon many
carved, painted or otherwise decorated pumpkins will welcome
visitors to homes.

The same natural colorants, or pigments, that are responsible
for the green leaves of summer and orange and gold leaves of
fall are found in many fruits and vegetables. Enjoying the
colors of fall is a good reminder to enjoy more dark green,
orange and gold fruits and vegetables.

Soon my family will be making its annual autumn trip to a
pumpkin patch. Being in the nutrition field, I can't help but
see "food" when I eye all these pumpkins. If I were a
jack-o'-lantern, especially a painted one, I'd be grinning,
too. I'd be happy I'd escaped being baked, mashed and eaten.

With due regard for jack-o'-lanterns everywhere, I'd like to
encourage you to eat a little more pumpkin. Besides tasting
good, pumpkin is an excellent source of beta carotene, a
pigment that our bodies use to make vitamin A. Vitamin A helps
keep skin and tissues healthy, helps our eyes see normally in
the dark and works as an antioxidant nutrient that could lower
our risk for certain kinds of cancer.

Pumpkin also is a good source of fiber, particularly the
"soluble" type that's good for the heart. Like all fruits and
vegetables, pumpkin is low in fat and sodium naturally.

If you're starting a recipe with a whole pumpkin, use some
care. Choose small, heavy pumpkins, which sometimes are sold
as "pie" or "sugar" pumpkins. They have more pulp than large
pumpkins and are more suitable for carving. Avoid bruising the
surface, which could lead to spoilage.

To bake a pumpkin, wash it thoroughly, poke holes in it and
bake it at 325 degrees until it's easily pierced with a knife.
Scoop out the pulp, season as desired and serve, or use it to
make muffins, pancakes, soup or other recipes.

Pumpkin seeds are fiber-rich snacks, too. To prepare them for
eating, remove the pumpkin pulp, wash off the seeds and blot
them with a paper towel. Toss them with a little vegetable
oil, place them on a baking sheet and bake 10 to 15 minutes at
250 degrees, occasionally stirring. If you like, you can
season them with salt, garlic powder, seasoned salt or other
seasonings.

If you have extra pumpkin, you may want to freeze some for
later use. To freeze pumpkin, wash, cut into pieces and remove
the seeds. Cook in boiling water, then steam or bake in the
oven until soft. Cool the pieces and then package them in
airtight containers, leaving a one-half inch space at the top
of the container to allow for expansion.

Here's a tasty and easy-to-make recipe to boost your pumpkin
consumption. It tastes like pumpkin pie without the crust and
without most of the fat. For more nutritious recipes and an
archive of more than 400 nutrition columns, visit the NDSU
Extension Service Web site at www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/food.htm
(click on "nutrition" and "prairie fare.")

**Pumpkin Dessert**

- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 15-oz. can plain pumpkin
- 1 cup (8 oz.) Carnation evaporated skim milk
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the sugars in a bowl. Add
eggs one at a time, but beat after each egg is added. Add
remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into a
9-inch by 13-inch pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a
toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 servings. Each serving has 110 calories, 2 grams of
fat, 19 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fiber.

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NDSU Agriculture Communication

:Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, jgardenr@ndsuext.nodak.edu
:Editor: Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu

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