Posted by: Cooking Thyme | October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Time

Since Halloween is round the corner, and wherever you go you see piles of pumpkins in every supermarket, so I thought I will post a few of my pumpkin recipes

  For a long time it has only been associated with Halloween. The markets stock it up in the beginning of October, and then bang, they disappear almost overnight. What do people do with all that lovely flesh they’ve scraped out when making the Jack O’ Lanterns, I wonder? Slowly, we are realising just how versatile pumpkin is, and the fact that there are several varieties.

There are lots of different types of pumpkin, is all sorts of colours and shapes. Some are orange, green or greeny-yellow; some are long and thin, some short and fat, some strange-looking with knobbly bits, however, most of these are just for decorative purposes and I would not cook with them. I tend to buy the traditional orange pumpkin which you get in profusion in autumn, when they are their best. For the best in flavour, look out for medium-sized ones, heavy in weight, but not large in volume.

In season, I use pumpkin in many dishes and its it very quick and simple to cook. Once you remove the thick skin and the seeds inside, you can use the flesh in many different types of dishes such as my delicious Zuppa di Zucca (pumpkin soup), pasta sauces such as in my Penne with Baked Pumpkin and Rosemary, Zucca al Forno, pasta filling and gnocchi. They can be puréed, sautéed, grilled, steamed, baked, deep-fried, preserved in olive oil and in vinegar, and made into jam, Because of its slightly sweet taste, it goes well with meat, poultry and game dishes, and it can also be made into desserts, such as crumbles, cakes biscuits and even ice creams.

Pumpkins are a storehouse of vitamins, mineral and other healthy nutrients. Whether it is the pulp or the seeds, pumpkins are great for your health and can offer some incredible benefits. It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Flesh and Seeds

Vitamin A: Regular consumption of pumpkin (both seeds and flesh) can promote the health of your eyes and boost your immune system remarkably.

Vitamin C: The high Vitamin C content in pumpkins also offers protection against various forms of cancer.

Great on your skin: The high amount of Vitamin A, C and E as well as Zinc present in pumpkin, make it a great choice for those who want a healthy and glowing skin. Have a cup of pumpkin seeds per day to prevent appearance of wrinkles and to keep your skin hydrated and nourished.

Essential Fatty Acids: Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of essential fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits. From providing protection against serious health diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer to promoting healthy skin and improving brain power.

Magnesium: This is required for the maintenance of bones and teeth.

Zinc & Potassium: Zinc is important for providing bone density support for people at risk for osteoporosis. It boosts the immune system and promotes reproductive health.

Fiber: It is extremely effective for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation. The high amount of fiber also helps in lowering the cholesterol levels in the blood and in regulating the blood sugar levels.

Prostate Cancer: The protective compounds present within the pumpkin seeds, can lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Anti-Inflammatory Effect: Regular consumption of pumpkin can protect against joint inflammation and arthritis. Pumpkins have been known to provide relief from inflammation quickly, without the harmful side-effects of anti-inflammatory medicines.

Prevents Kidney Stones: This stimulates the kidneys and prevents the formation of calcium oxalate stones.

Depression: Pumpkin flesh contains L-tryptophan, a chemical compound that triggers feelings of well-being and happiness. Having pumpkin as a part of your daily diet can keep your spirits high and prevent depression.

Treatment of Parasites: pumpkins are used to treat infections caused by tapeworms and other parasites.

Diuretics: Pumpkins are natural diuretics. These help in flushing out the toxins and unwanted waste material from the body, leaving you refreshed and healthy.

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