Food & Nutrition Column
Mary Ann Lienhart Cross
Extension Educator-Health & Human Sciences
Purdue Extension Elkhart County
Pumpkin Means Fall Cooking
It has been colder than normal which means it is time to use your kitchen and cook. Fall to me means hot cider flavored in many ways, cooking with apples and winter squash, and healthy foods made with pumpkin.
Personally, I enjoy all foods that are made with pumpkin. Pumpkins are a fruit of the vine that is marketed as a vegetable. Yesterday, I drove to Noblesville and saw a field of unharvested pumpkins and thought “what a waste”. Those of us who cook could use them and cows and goats would eat them too.
Now for some food history. In ancient China, the pumpkin was a symbol of success and wealth. Here in the United States, pumpkin played a starring role in the first Thanksgiving celebration. To this day, pumpkin pie has been a main attraction at many family holiday meals. Baking with pumpkin during the holiday season was introduced because it closely followed the pumpkin harvest time. Pumpkin should not be limited to pie though. Try souffles, bread pudding, quick breads, cakes, pancakes, muffins or main dishes.
When it comes to nutrition, we should be eating pumpkin year-round. It is rich in vitamin A, iron, potassium and vitamin C. A real bonus is that pumpkin is low in calories, sodium and fat. Pumpkin is an excellent source of many nutrients with an irresistible aroma, flavor and texture.
Pumpkin when sold as solid pack pumpkin is completely natural. Two types of pumpkin are canned commercially – plain pumpkin that has nothing added and pumpkin pie mix that has flavoring and sugar added. One cup of plain pumpkin contains 80 calories, 2 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fat, 10 milligrams of salt, and 470 milligrams of potassium.
For those of you working at reducing your calorie intake, you can make and bake a pumpkin pie without the crust. Grease a pie plate with pan grease which is equal amounts of flour, shortening and oil mixed together. Once greased, pour the pumpkin pie mixture into the pie plate and bake. I personally like when I have too much pie mixture and must bake the extra in a custard cup so I can enjoy it while it is still warm.
If you would like to learn more about sugar, sugar addiction, and healthy eating, join me for a free educational program on November 21st at 1:00pm or 7:00pm at the Purdue Extension Elkhart County office. Pre-register by calling our office at 574-533-0554 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org ###
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