Pumpkin: Autumn's Superfood

It's around this time of year that we start seeing pumpkin in the grocery shops. Pumpkin is one of the best autumn ingredients for those who cook at home. It is very nutritious, tasty and low in calories. 

Pumpkin is a type of squash that belongs to the same family of plants as melons and cucumbers.  As it contains seeds pumpkin is technically a fruit but as it is fleshy and more nutritious, we consider it as a vegetable. All parts of pumpkin, from flower to seeds are eatable, easy to cook and they combine well with many herbs and spices.

Is pumpkin healthy?

Pumpkin is very healthy. It contains many essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin is low in sugar and high fibre. It is rich vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, iron and potassium.

Pumpkin is a source of beta carotene and alpha carotene which your body can convert into powerful antioxidants such as vitamin A after you consume them. Vitamin A helps to support your immune system, fight infections and keep your skin and eyes healthy. Pumpkin is also packed with lutein and zeaxanthin which are linked to lower risks or age-related eye diseases. 

Pumpkin seeds which are a very popular healthy snack are also very nutritious. They are a great source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. They are low in carbs but high in healthy fat, which makes them a great snack for those on a low carb diet. 

How to cook with pumpkin?

Pumpkin is a versatile vegetable. It can be prepared in so many ways: boiled, roasted, baked, steamed, fried or used for puree, soup, pasta, or as an ingredient for many sweet recipes, cakes and biscuits. Pumpkin is one of these vegetables that work well with many spices and herbs. 

How to roast the pumpkin?

You can roast the pumpkin with skin or without it. Cut the pumpkin into large segments or smaller cubes. Brush the pumpkin with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place it on the baking tray. If you leave the peel, pierce it a few times with a fork to let steam escape. Bake in a preheated oven (180C) for 35-45 minutes until soft. That's when the fork easily pierces the skin.

You can eat roasted pumpkin as a main course or side dish or use it as a base ingredient for roasted pumpkin soup or many other dishes, including those savoury and sweet. 

What are the best herbs and spices to pair with pumpkin?

Pumpkin is ideal for pairing with winter spices. When cooking pumpkin, try combining it with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, cloves, chilli for flavour packed comforting warming dishes. You can also use turmeric to improve the colour of your dish and to balance other flavours. 

There is a combination of spices called Pumpkin Spice which is made with cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves and ground nutmeg. 

Pumpkin is also delicious when incorporating herbs.The best choice here for delicious pumpkin dishes would be organic rosemary or organic basil. We recommend you to buy organic herbs as they are grown without harmful chemicals and they are tastier and more fragrant than spices available in supermarkets. 

How to make pumpkin spice? 

Pumpkin spice is a blend similar to mixed spice. It's very easy to make it at home if you have the right ingredients in your pantry. Remember to you use organic spices which are healthier as they are farmed in natural way without any harmful pesticides and preservatives. 

Recipe for pumpkin spice:

In a small jar, mix together 4 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons organic ground ginger, 1 teaspoon organic ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon organic ground nutmeg. Use it for cakes, biscuits, muffins,  pumpkin spice latte and smoothies or as a seasoning. If you want to use your pumpkin spice for savoury dishes, use 4 teaspoons of cumin instead of cinnamon. 

Buy true Ceylon cinnamon

Buy spices for Pumpkin Spice 

How to roast pumpkin seeds?

Pumpkin seeds can be enjoy with the outer shell. This way they keep some extra healthy fibre. 

Before roasting pumpkin seeds, you should clean them from the  pulp and dry them. They can be dried in the sun, dehydrator or an oven (keep them in warm temperature for 3-4 hours, stir from time to time. 

Toss dried pumpkin seeds in oil with salt (optional) and set them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in a preheated oven (180C) for 10-15 minutes. 

Try these healthy recipes with pumpkin: 

Easy pumpkin soup

Pumpkin spice latte

Almond turmeric pumpkin cookies




Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published