Let's Eat Pumpkin
Pumpkin is native to the Americas. Parts of the skin, seeds,
and stem have been found in the ruins of ancient cliff dwellings
in South Western USA. The name appears to come from the Greek
word, "pepon," and the French word, "pompion".
Botanically, pumpkin is a squash – a cousin to melons
and cucumber – that grows on a low trailing vine. Its
use as a lantern has become a symbol of Hallowe'en,
and in a pie, a symbol of Thanksgiving, both of which date
back to the first colonial settlers. These early settlers
found the Indians boiling and baking pumpkins, making them
into soups, drying them, and grinding them into a meal for
bread. An early rhyme says:
"For potage and puddings, and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies.
We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon.
If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon."
—The Unabridged Vegetable Cookbook,
Pumpkin flowers are large, creamy white to deep yellow in
colour, and edible. Pumpkin flesh is moist, somewhat coarse,
and sweet in flavour, and the colour may be a pale buff to
a bright orange. They can grow quite large, as evidenced
by the many pumpkin-growing contests that exist.
AND MEDICINAL INFORMATION
One Pound (without rind and seeds):
||ascorbic acid (Vit. C)
||Chart taken from
Foods that Heal by Dr. Bernard Jensen
NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL
Pumpkins cause an alkaline reaction in the body, and have
a moderately low carbohydrate content. They are good in soft
diets. The deep orange colour indicates a high vitamin A
content, and they are fair sources of vitamins B and C, as
well. (see chart)
Pumpkins are high in beta-carotene – an antioxidant
that helps fight cancer and coronary heart disease, that
protects vision, and that prevents degenerative disease such
as arthritis and diabetes. In addition to this phytochemical – beta-carotene – pumpkins
also contain other phytochemicals such as terpenes, coumarins,
flavonoids, capsaicin, and lycopene, all of which help prevent
the above-mentioned illnesses. They do this by reducing the
accumulation of plaque in the arteries, and inhibiting cell
proliferation induced by carcinogens in target organs.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E and
zinc. Zinc is an immune builder and booster. Studies suggest
zinc may help prevent prostate problems in men.
Dr. Bernard Jensen says that pumpkin seeds and onions mixed
together with a little soy milk make an excellent remedy
for parasitic worms in the digestive tract. To make this
remedy, liquify the following: three tablespoons of pumpkin
seeds that have been soaked three hours, half a small onion,
half a cup of soy milk, and one teaspoon of honey. Take this
amount three times daily, three days in a row.
Pumpkin is very low in calories: 3-1/2 ounces of raw pumpkin
is approximately 26 calories and 3-1/2 ounces cooked pumpkin
is approximately 33 calories.
BUYING, COOKING, AND STORING
Pumpkin is usually availale from late August through March.
It is great winter food, as the pumpkins are harvested in
fall, around the first frost, and they keep well in a cool,
dry, storage place. Spread pumpkins in an attic, spare room,
or cool bedroom so they do not touch each other. Root cellars
are too damp. Check the pumpkins occasionally for mold and,
if found, remove it and wipe the spot with vegetable oil
to seal it. Most pumpkins will keep three to four months.
Freezing extra pumpkin is my favourite method of storage.
To cook, simply cut in large chunks and remove seeds, or
remove the stem end and clean out the centre. Place cut side
down on oiled baking sheets in the oven at 350º F until
soft – usually 30 to 60 minutes. Test with a fork to
see if it is done. When cool, scrape out the flesh and discard
peel. For smooth puree, blend or put through a sieve, then
package and freeze. Raw peeled pumpkin may also be steamed,
then pureed and frozen.
To can pumpkin, peel and cut in one inch cubes. Cover with
water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain, pack, add
boiling cooking water, leaving one-half inch headroom and
process at 240º F at 11 pounds pressure for 55 minutes
for pints and 1 hour 30 minutes for quarts. To can puree,
same procedure, but 65 minutes for pints and 80 minutes for
Dry surplus pumpkin immediately after harvest for best
quality. To dry, peel, slice or grate, or steam blanch 6
minutes. Spread on trays and dry until leathery and brittle,
or slice in thick rings and hang to dry.
Buy pumpkins that are heavy for their size, that are free
of blemishes, molds, and rot, and that have a hard rind.
Pumpkin is useful in soups, pies, muffins, cakes, loaves,
puddings, custards, and can be baked like squash. A favourite
is the Crustless Pumpkin Pie (see recipes), a great snack.
My son Reagan used to take this to school with his lunch
CRUSTLESS PUMPKIN PIE
A great snack. May make with a crust if desired.
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
1-1/2 cups blended cooked pumpkin
1 cup creamilk (use Silk or soy milk for non-dairy)
Preheat oven to 350º F for crustless or 450º F
for crust. Beat eggs slightly. Add honey, spices, salt, and
pumpkin. Mix well, then add milk. Pour mixture into 2 pie
pans or 1 deep pie dish. Bake 50–60 minutes until centre
is set. For crust version, bake at 450º F for 15 minutes,
then 40 minutes at 350º F. Chill. Serve as is, or with
whipped cream if diet allows.
Crust: use any whole grain or seed crust.
1 cup olive oil
1 cup dates, chopped, blended in
1 cup hot juice
2 cups whole grain flour of choice
1 cup cooked grain (wild rice, rice, millet, quinoa, etc.)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins, soaked and drained
1/2 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
2 cups pureed pumpkin
Heat oven to 325º F. Mix oil and blended dates. Add
eggs; add dry ingredients. Add grain, raisins, and seeds.
Add pumpkin. Bake for 20 minutes or until centres are set.
Cool on rack. Makes 24 muffins.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup liquid honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup juice or water
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup pumpkin
Beat the eggs and add honey, oil, pumpkin, and juice. Blend.
Combine with the dry ingredients. Stir in the raisins and
nuts. Butter one large loaf pan. Bake at 350º F for
1 hour or until centre is set.
Try serving these cut open with dairy or non-dairy cheese
and broiled; or butter and top with eggs!
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
1 dash of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and mace
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup yogurt, buttermilk, non-dairy milk, or juice
1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
Mix dry ingredients together, then cut in butter with a pastry
blender. Beat the wet ingredients together and then fold
them into the dry mixture just until combined. Roll dough
on a floured surface and cut with a glass or round shape.
Bake on dry cookie sheet at 400º F for 15 to 17 minutes.
Variation: add chopped fruit, nuts, or seeds.
TUNISIAN PUMPKIN SOUP with Spice Concentrate**
A sweet and spicy soup!
2 cups chopped onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced turnip
2 tsp sea salt
2-1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-3/4 cups cooked pumpkin
Saute onions in large saucepan in olive until soft, about
10 minutes. Add the carrots, turnip, and salt and cook for
another 5 minutes. Add the stock and juices, followed by
the cumin and spices. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat
and simmer until vegetables are soft. Add pumpkin and blend
to a creamy consistency using a blender. Reheat as needed.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground caraway
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
sea salt to taste
Heat oil in large pan and saute the garlic for 1 minute,
stirring constantly. Add spices and as soon as the spice
mixture starts to boil, remove it from heat. Place soup
in a small bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice and coriander
and salt. Garnish each bowl with the spice concentrate.
Note: for a less sweet version, use vegetable broth in
place of the apple juice.
Peel pumpkin thinly, and saute slowly in butter. Sliced
onion, minced garlic, or other sliced vegetables can be sauteed
with it. Season with minced herbs, e.g., parsley and mint.
If a sauce is wanted, add apple cider or a little light cream
for the last few minutes of cooking.
2 cups raw hulled pumpkin seeds
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp marjoram
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce or Bragg Vegetable Seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
Place the pumpkin seeds in an even layer in a large, shallow
roasting pan. Bake at 375º F shaking the pan occasionally.
The seeds will begin to pop after 5 minutes. Continue baking
until the popping slows down, about 10 to 12 minutes. Do
not brown the seeds.
While the seeds are baking, combine the spices, sauce or
seasoning, and oil in a small bowl. Drizzle the spice mixture
over the seeds as soon as they are removed from the oven.
Toss until evenly coated. Let cool completely before transferring
to a tightly covered glass jar. Makes 3 cups.
*taken from Nutrition, Cooking and Healing, Paulette Millis.
**taken from Health and Vitality Magazine, October 2003.
***taken from The Kitchen Gardener's Companion, Pat
Bible, Earl Mindell; Foods
that Heal, Dr. Bernard Jensen;
Powerfoods, Stephanie Beling MD; The
Kitchen Gardener's Companion, Pat Katz; The
Unabridged Vegetable Cookbook, Nika Hazelton.
The above information regarding nutritious food is not intended
to replace any instruction from medical or health professionals.
Paulette Millis lives and
works in Saskatoon as a nutritional consultant. Her cookbook,
Nutrition, Cooking, and Healing, is
available in health food stores or by calling (306) 244-8890.