Pumpkin: The ultimate Autumn/Winter vegetable
Why you should eat them?
You see pumpkins everywhere in Autumn, in the fruit and vegetable markets, producers selling them along the road and of course those of us who love Halloween will be looking for pumpkins to carve into Jack-O-Lanterns! Pump
kins are a type of squash and you can find them in many shades of orange and green and in many shapes too. In Cyprus people use the long orange ones to make pies with. These have a thin, hard skin and are relatively easy to peel. The big round ones used for Halloween have a thicker skin, they’re a little more work to peel but they are a lot sweeter. Whatever pumpkin you use in your recipes, be it for pies, muffins, soups or in roasts, they are all delicious and packed with nutrients.
Pumpkins are rich in antioxidants, including alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which give this vegetable its orange colour. Antioxidants are vital to maintaining good health, they boost our immune system, keep our eyes healthy and our skin looking vibrant and young. A diet rich in antioxidants is recommended especially in cancer prevention.
Eating pumpkins will also provide you with a lot of essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, B6, C and E, iron, potassium, copper, phosphorus and magnesium.
And there’s more good news: Pumpkins are low in calories, even though they are sweet. Like sweet potatoes they have a low glycemic index. They are also a good source of fibre, which our body uses to help in weight loss and in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The seeds inside the pumpkin are extremely healthy and make a delicious treat when roasted in the oven with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Pumpkin seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acid, zinc and magnesium. They help to keep our heart and arteries healthy, improve insulin regulation, keep our cholesterol in check and nourish the liver. We would really recommend men to eat a handful of pumpkin seeds every day, in order to prevent prostate enlargement (BPH). Studies have found that the high antioxidant content in pumpkin seeds can help reduce inflammation.
Pumpkins can be a main ingredient in many recipes, both savoury and sweet. Some of great ways to eat pumpkins are:
- in soups, there are numerous recipes but one of the favourite is with leek and sage, with a few roasted pumpkin seeds on top.
- in casseroles, together with other seasonal vegetables and seasoned with bay, rosemary and myrtle leaves.
- in baked delights. Roast pumpkin is a great healthy ingredient in sweet recipes too. Think about muffins, pie (pecan & pumpkin!) even pumpkin cinnamon rolls.
In baked goods with pumpkin you really must add a pinch of pumpkin spice for that quintessential Autumnal aroma. A pumpkin spice mix consists of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Cyherbia herbalist – Miranda – likes to add a pinch of pumpkin spice to her coffee too!
You can find a variety of pumpkins, as well as pumpkin spice mix and other pumpkin related products at Cyherbia Botanical Park in Avgorou. In the Tea Room throughout Autumn and winter you can order fresh pumpkin soup and pumpkin muffins.
Are you in the mood for Halloween?
Check out the Halloween events hosted by Cyherbia for this year (2017):