As the weather changes and gets cooler, so does the produce that is plentiful and in-season. Delicious choices include apples, winter squash, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and my personal favorite—pumpkin!
Last fall, I blogged about how nutritious pumpkins are; they’re packed with vitamin A, potassium, and heart-healthy magnesium, along with lots of fiber. Nowadays, pumpkin is found in everything from candles and soaps, desserts and savory dishes, to milkshakes and coffee drinks.
Pumpkins date back to over 7,500 years ago and probably originated in Central America. They are one of the crops the Native Americans taught the colonists to cultivate. Native Americans used pumpkin for food, and they also made them into bowls for storage. Pumpkins are in the same family as squash, cucumber, watermelons, and gourds. You can eat the flesh, seeds, and even the pumpkin blossoms. Pumpkins are about 90 percent water, and the flesh is very low in calories.
You can snack on pumpkin seeds or make wonderful stews, soups, and curries with pumpkin, and roasted pumpkin makes an excellent vegetable side dish. You can used canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, which is usually sweetened and has added spices), or you can make your own. To make you own, simply cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the insides, saving the seeds to roast later. Then you can roast the pumpkin at 375 degrees, cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil for about an hour. Let it cool, then scrape it out and mash it with a potato masher.
Here is a recipe for pumpkin muffins adapted from SallysBakingAddiction.com that were a favorite when I made them for our seniors who participate in our nutrition wellness program.
Kirsten Romero, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian with the wellness program at Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia. She believes that proper nutrition is not a secret formula, nor is it found in the latest fad diet. Instead, her nutrition coaching is tailored to each client’s individual goals and objectives to establish an eating plan that is enjoyable and sustainable. Kirsten provides nutrition education at our congregate meal sites, and she is available to provide one-on-one nutrition coaching to participants in the congregate and home-delivered meal programs. She can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 757-461-9481 ext 230.