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Volume 9 Issue 5
Jan/Feb 2004

Living in Balance
The Art of Taking Care of Oneself

Let's Eat Pumpkin

Ayurveda – The Science of Life An Ancient Medicine

Jin Shin Jyutsu
A Journey Toward Self-Knowledge and Harmony

Your Inner Voice is a Key to Career Planning

Editorial

Let's Eat Pumpkin
by Paulette Millis


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, Nika Hazelton

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.

NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL INFORMATION
Nutrients in One Pound (without rind and seeds):
calories 83
  protein 3.8 g  
  vitamin A 5,080 i.u.  
  fat 0.3 g  
  iron 2.5 mg  
  thiamine 0.15 mg  
  carbohydrates 20.6 mg  
  riboflavin 0.35 mg  
  calcium 66 mg  
  niacin 1.8 mg  
  phosphorus 138 mg  
  ascorbic acid (Vit. C) 30 mg  
  Chart taken from Foods that Heal by Dr. Bernard Jensen  

NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL INFORMATION

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 quarts. (Katz)

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 daily!


RECIPES

CRUSTLESS PUMPKIN PIE

A great snack. May make with a crust if desired.
3 eggs
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.


PUMPKIN MUFFINS*

Yummy!
1 cup olive oil
1 cup dates, chopped, blended in
1 cup hot juice
4 eggs
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.


PUMPKIN LOAF

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
2 eggs
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.


PUMPKIN BISCUITS

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 egg
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. Makes 12.
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.

Spice Concentrate:
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.


SAUTEED PUMPKIN***

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.


SAVORY PEPITAS*

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 Katz.


References: Anti-Aging 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.

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