Fall is in the air, which means time for comfy, warm sweaters, crockpot meals, soups and pumpkins! Yes, carving pumpkins is celebrated by people everywhere this time of year but they are more than that. Pumpkins are plump full with nutrition and low in calories.
Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A. The vibrant orange color of pumpkins should be a giveaway as the color indicates beta-carotene is present. Beta-carotene is converted by the body to vitamin A. A diet rich in Vitamin A provides health benefits such as healthy vision and promoting healthy growth of cells and tissue. Eating foods containing beta-carotene may be associated with a lower risk of some cancers and cardiovascular disease. Pumpkins are also low in calories – 1 cup of cooked pumpkin is 49 calories.
To enjoy the flavors of fall using pumpkin, you can:
- Make pumpkin smoothies.
- Add pumpkin to pancakes.
- Enjoy in desserts, such as bars and bread.
- Roast the pumpkin seeds for a nutritious snack.
Pumpkins are very versatile, full of color and packed with nutrients. Now you can enjoy the health benefits as well as the fun of carving your favorite Jack-O-Lantern!
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Toasting pumpkin seeds is an easy and delicious way to incorporate a healthy snack. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contain 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of fat (1 gram saturated, 4 grams unsaturated). A tiny amount is packed full of nutrition! Make it a family event and race to see who can get the most seeds out of the pumpkin.
To toast your pumpkin seeds, follow the steps below:
- Rinse seeds to remove pulp and strings.
- Spread seeds on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over seeds or spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray prior.
- Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until lightly toasted.
- Stir occasionally during cooking.
- Let cool and experiment with your favorite seasonings – try garlic powder, onion powder or Cajun seasoning.
- Store in an air-tight containers or zip closure bags and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Source: Megan Erickson, South Dakota State University