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Get Pumped About Pumpkin: Pie, Bread, Ravioli, Soups and More

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Get Pumped About Pumpkin: Pie, Bread, Ravioli, Soups and More

It’s pumpkin season! Fall’s signature squash is not only delicious, it’s versatile. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, risotto, soups, smoothies and puddings are just a few ways to enjoy this gorgeous gourd. Here’s how pumpkin packs a nutritional punch:

It’s Packed with Vitamins
Not only is pumpkin adaptable as an ingredient in a variety of recipes, it happens to be a healthy powerhouse of vitamins A and C, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium and an overlooked source of fiber. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains four grams of fiber, which can help you feel fuller for longer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), just 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree counts as a serving of vegetables! Pretty impressive for a Jack-O-Lantern.

It’s Fat Free
Pumpkin is fat free, low in calories (80 calories to a cup) and naturally low in salt. It’s an excellent source of the carotenoid beta-carotene—the compound that gives the squash its bright orange pigment. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body and is important for eye health and immune function. In fact, one cup of cooked pumpkin provides almost 400 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. Foods high in beta carotene also help protect the skin from UV damage, much like lycopene in tomatoes.

Its Seeds Contain Iron
Save the seeds too, because just a one-ounce serving of roasted pumpkin seeds contains more iron than a 1/2 cup serving of beans. To roast the seeds at home:

  1. Rinse them in cold water and remove all remnant of the pulp.
  2. Boil in salted water for 10 minutes to make the seeds easier to digest.
  3. Drain in a colander and pat the seeds dry.
  4. Spread them out on a cookie sheet and coat them with olive oil spray and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning. Cayenne or Cajun seasoning can spice things up, or simply salt them.
  5. Roast at 325ºF for about 10 minutes.

Not all commercial pumpkin products are created equal. Look for 100 percent pumpkin on the label, which is pumpkin puree with no added salt, sugar, or spices. Pumpkin pie filling contains the aforementioned extra ingredients and is less nutritious compared to 100 percent pumpkin puree. Read the label carefully, as the cans are typically stocked side by side on grocery store shelves.

With all that pumpkin has to offer nutritionally, including it as a staple item in your kitchen seems as natural as the leaves changing colors in the fall.

Click here to see more pumpkin recipes for fall cooking.

Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.