We’re in the middle of a full-on pumpkin flavour takeover. There’s pumpkin in your bagels, beer and coffee. Starbucks has sold more than 200 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes in the past 10 years. Even the makers of Pringles are getting in on the action. While most pumpkin-flavoured treats should be added to the once-in-a-while list, pumpkin itself (not to be confused with artificial pumpkin spice flavouring) is actually one of the healthier foods of the season.
Low on calories and rich in fibre, eating pumpkin will keep you feeling fuller for longer, keeping your appetite at bay so you eat less overall.
A cup of cubed pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which promotes good vision, especially in dim light. It has also been found to slow the decline of retinal function in those with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness, according to researchers from Harvard. Vitamin A ahelps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.
Based on the antioxidant content of pumpkins, many companies are now utilising its properties to make skin care products. Yes, that’s right — pumpkin can be applied topically, helping to increase cell turnover, resulting in smoother, healthier-looking skin. Of course, due to various antioxidants, pumpkin can also address signs of ageing.
Like their orange comrades the sweet potato, the carrot and the butternut squash (to name a few), pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Ever heard of bananas being touted as nature’s energy bar? Turns out, a cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium, with 564 milligrams to a banana’s 422. A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
Whether or not vitamin C can really ward of colds is still up for debate, but pumpkins are a solid source of the essential nutrient.
Pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin beer — the options are endless, and endlessly mouthwatering. Whether you’re putting a pumpkin on your doorstep at Halloween or into a pie crust for lunch, it’s time to see this fruit as more than a once-a-year purchase.
THE BRASSERIE’S ULTIMATE PUMPKIN SALAD
local pumpkin, roasted in chunks
garden lettuce leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine the roasted pumpkin, lettuce leaves, cranberries, walnuts and seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, followed by a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of parmesan.