In Season Now. The Pumpkin Edition

When I used to think of pumpkin, the only thing that came to my mind is Halloween and Jack O Lanterns. Pumpkin is so much more. A super amazing healthy food and very in season right now here in Athens! 

Rich in Beta-carotene and a powerful antioxidant. Consuming foods rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, offer protection against asthma and heart disease and delay aging and body degeneration. Beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A and creates white blood cells that help fight infection. 

Pumpkins are a fantastic source of fiber. The recommended daily fiber intake of is between 25 and 30 g.

One cup of cooked or boiled pumpkin has: 

  • 1.76g of protein
  • 2.7g of fiber
  • 49 calories
  • 0.17g of fat
  • 0g of  cholesterol
  • 12.01g of carbohydrate 

USDA National Nutrient Database

And pumpkin also has: 

  • More than 200 % of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A
  • 19% of the RDA of Vitamin C
  • 5 % of Thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Now for the pumpkin seeds! 

Benefits:

  • Rich in nutrients and may have many health benefits.
  • A good source of healthful oils, magnesium and other nutrients that enhance the health of the heart, bones, and other functions.
  • Plant seeds are also a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants.

Quick tips for pumpkin seeds:

  • Great for adding to salads
  • Make homemade granola with a mixture of nuts, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit.
  • Make your own pumpkin seed butter (like peanut butter) by blending whole, raw pumpkin seeds in a food processor until smooth.

100g serving of pumpkin seeds contains:  

  • 127 calories 
  • 15g of carbohydrate (including 0g of sugar and 17.9g of fiber)
  • 5mg of protein
  • 21.43g of fat, of which 3.57 is saturated
  • 20mg of calcium
  • 0.9g of iron
  • 1g of saturated fatty acids

How to Prepare and Cook a Pumpkin: 

  1. First, scrub the outside of the pumpkin to remove all dirt. 
  2. Cut off the stem, then cut the pumpkin in half (from top to bottom) and use a spoon to scrape out any fibers and seeds out of each half. 
  3. Cut the pumpkin halves into smaller pieces, then place the pieces skin-side up in a baking dish with a lid.
  4. Add water to just cover the bottom of the dish, and cover tightly.
  5. Bake in a 165°C oven for about 1 hour, or until the pumpkin is fork tender. 
  6. Let it cool, and then either cut off the peel or scoop out the flesh.

How to prepare raw pumpkin seeds:

  1. Scoop the seeds from your pumpkin and try and remove most of the stringy parts. Then place in a strainer to rinse very well
  2. Arrange cleaned pumpkin seeds on a towel or paper towel and dry thoroughly. 
  3. Arrange washed and dried pumpkin seeds on baking sheet and drizzle with oil 
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until light golden brown.
  5. Let cool completely before transferring to a sealed container.
  6. Will keep at room temperature for 1 week or more, or in the freezer up to 1 month.

Pumpkin & Carrot Soup (inspired by wholefoodbellie.com) 

Make this wonderful soup with autumn flavors and local produce with 10g of protein per serving

1 onion cut in half

3 cloves of garlic 

500 g of carrots (cut in large pieces)

500g of chopped raw pumpkin 

1 cup dried lentils

thyme, salt & pepper to taste

Olive oil 

2L Vegetable Stock

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  2. Arrange onion, garlic, carrots and pumpkin on a baking tray. Add oil and toss to coat.
  3. Roast vegetables for 25 minutes or until tender
  4. While the vegetables are roasting, cook the lentils with the thyme and vegetable stock into a large pan. Cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Add more water if needed. 
  5. Once the vegetables are roasted, add them to the cooked lentils and simmer for another 5 minutes 
  6. Use a blender to blend the soup to the consistency of your liking. 

Voula at Margarita Fruit and Vegetable Store helps me shop for the freshest and healthiest fruits and vegetables. Knowing your fruit and vegetable vendors makes a huge difference! 
Margarita: Πριγκιπος Πετρου 34, Voúla

Katy Taveira, MSc

http://www.myathlete.gr

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