Halloween! My absolute favourite of all the holiday seasons. Not just for the spooky feeling in the air and the excitement of children but for the abundance of glorious food available at this time of year. And for me theres nothing better than the Pumpkin. Its a symbol of the season but should be for more than just the fun of carving and displaying.
Heres a few Pumpkin Facts to get you in the mood for using the insides!..
18,000 tonnes of pumpkins go to waste every year and with average UK food waste sitting at £460 per household theres a reason for everyone to give cooking with Pumpkin a whirl.
Pumpkins are nutritional powerhouses. One cup contains a whopping 245% of your Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin A which is a powerful antioxidant and key in numerous processes in the body. Vitamin A is essential for Skin Health and optimising UV Protection, increases Collagen production essential for decreasing wrinkles and decreasing Sebum production which assists in decreasing spots and acne.
Vitamin A is also essential for eye health, it helps to keep mucous membranes healthy which is your eyes natural barrier against bacteria and decreases risk of eye infections. Vitamin A also reduces macular degeneration of the eye and risk of cataracts.
Pumpkin is also Anti Inflammatory and good for diabetics due to it being high in Vitamin C which simulates insulin.
Pumpkin is also high in Iron, Potassium, Folic Acid, Protein and Unsaturated Fats making it perfect for utilising its high content of Vitamin A which is fat soluable.
So if you are carving a jack o lantern with your family, heres some ideas for using the insides in some yummy and nutritious ways...
PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE
Easy peasy, no cooking, quick to make and clean up.
1 small handful of Raw Pumpkin
1 Banana (frozen will make it colder and thicker)
300ml Almond Milk
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp of Chia Seeds
1 squirt of Pure Maple Syrup
2 tbsp of Raw Almonds (or Raw Cashews for a creamier finish)
1 capful of Vanilla Extract
Ice (a few cubes not too much)
Whack in the blender, blend, serve and top with a dusting of cinnamon. Yum!
PUMPKIN PIE OVERNIGHT OATS
An easy, quick and nutritious way to start the day.
Make the night before, fridge and its ready to go in the morning.
1/2 cup of Plain or Gluten Free Oats
1/2 cup of Almond Milk or other milk
2 tbsp of Raw Pumpkin blended into a puree in the blender
1 tbsp Pure Maple Syrup
2 tsp Chia Seeds
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
Layer in a jar, put on the lid, shake to mix and pop in the fridge. Ready in the morning, or around 4 hours later.
Dress with Pecans, Cinnamon, a drizzle of Maple Syrup and Fresh Apples.
PUMPKIN AND PEAR SOUP
Quick, warming and perfect for any Autumn Day.
2 Cups of Raw Pumpkin
2 Large Potatoes, Sweet is best but white if not, peeled and chopped
2 Pears unpeeled and chopped
2 Apples unpeeled and chopped
2 Carrots unpeeled and chopped
2 Medium Onions, peeled and chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 inch of Fresh Ginger peeled and chopped, or 2 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of Ground Turmeric or 1 inch of Fresh Turmeric peeled and chopped
1 tsp of Cinnamon
1 tsp of Nutmeg
1 Pint of Vegetable Stock
1 Pint of Almond Milk or other milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
Put all items in a Big Pot together, Pour the stock and milk to just cover the veg so dont pour all in one go. Its easier to thin the mixture than thicken it, so save some stock / milk to the end if needed. Bring to the boil, Simmer until veg cooked through, blend, season and serve with Pumpkin Seeds and lovely Bread.
CHILLI PUMPKIN SEEDS
Easy to make and on the go snack, 30% Protein, 100% gorgeous!
Pumpkin Seeds, as many as you have!
Chilli Flakes, Chipotle even better!
Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt my favourite
Olive or Liquid Coconut Oil even better.
When you scoop out the insides of the Pumpkin, put the seeds in a jar and soak overnight in water, firstly removing any pumpkin flesh.
Dry the seeds on a paper towel.
Place in a bowl, pour over the oil just covering, not too much
Sprinkle salt and chilli flakes to taste
Mix to coat
Scatter on a baking tray
Cook on 150 degrees for around 20 minutes.
Slow and low always better to avoid burning.
Store in a glass jar for around 2 weeks.
Theres so much more you can do with Pumpkin from Raw Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake to Pumpkin Risotto to Pumpkin Curry that I hope this post inspires you to try and utilise this wonderful Squash relative in as many ways as possible during its peak.
Dont forget, it can be frozen for many, many months if you have more than you planned so you can enjoy its amazing taste and benefits right through until Xmas!
So cram that Pumpkin in your body and not in the bin!
Written by Gemma Bloor
Nutritional Therapist & Head of Nutrition at Rawr Juice & Superfood Bar Ltd