It is time to enjoy pumpkins

February 23, 2012

Diet, Food, Recipes

Although 90 percent water, the pumpkin contains lutein, as well as alpha- and beta-carotene, which give it its bright orange color.

by Karen Langston —

The pumpkin has been a staple of the American diet for a very long time. Native Americans were using the pumpkin both for its seeds (as food) and for medicinal purposes long before pilgrims set foot on what is now American soil. Pumpkin was also used for treating snakebites, as a cure for freckles and for prostate health.

Is the pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable? Cucurbita pepo (the pumpkin’s official name) is actually a fruit. It is an herbaceous plant belonging to the melon family. The vine produces beautiful large yellow flowers from which the fruit develops. In some countries, the bloom is used in cooking.

Although 90 percent water, the pumpkin contains lutein, as well as alpha- and beta-carotene, which give it its bright orange color. It is rich in potassium, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, magnesium, zinc, pantothenic acid and antioxidants. It also contains protein, several minerals and trace minerals that are vital to a properly functioning body.

Pumpkin can be enjoyed fried, sautéed and, of course, in a North American favorite — pumpkin pie. However you enjoy this delectable piece of heaven, keep in mind that you are devouring an orange nutritional powerhouse.

People have been enjoying pumpkin seeds from as far back as 7,000 to 5,500 B.C. The pumpkin seed coat or seed jacket protects the green nut inside. It is the green nut you want to consume, not the white outer protection, as you do not have the ability to break it down, which could cause digestive problems.

Men looking for a natural way to prevent prostate cancer need to think green. The tiny green nut oil is high in zinc. The prostate uses more zinc than any other organ in the body, and studies indicate that pumpkin oil inhibits hormones from damaging prostate cells.

Pumpkin seeds are healthful and delicious, offer protection from osteoporosis and cancer, lower cholesterol and are a natural anti-inflammatory and parasite repellant.

Pumpkin seeds have also been used to treat and prevent kidney and bladder problems, and prevent the formation of kidney stones. The high zinc content and trace tryptophan found in pumpkin are nutrients that have been studied for their ability to alleviate depression as well.

You can eat pumpkin seeds all day long and you will only gain nutrient value — without adding any additional bulge to your waistline. Raw pumpkin seeds provide more nutrients than baked. Sprouted, raw pumpkin seeds are the ultimate way to pack a powerful nutrient punch. They are a natural source of carbohydrates, amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids.

Pumpkin seeds can be purchased year-round, but make sure to look for raw or sprouted raw green seeds. You can use the seeds in cooking as well. You can also benefit from the healing properties of pumpkin seed oil, which can be purchased from most health food stores and select specialty grocery stores. Look for pure pumpkin seed oil which is sold in dark containers in the refrigerator section. There will be a green tinge to it. Do not fry or cook with the oil, but use it in salad dressing and let your creativity soar.

Here is a recipe for you to enjoy:

Karen’s Gluten-Free Pumpkin Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-1/2 pounds cubed steak or stewing meat (bison or beef)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 to 3 potatoes, cubed, skin on
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons beef or chicken stock (more if needed)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomatoes
  • 1 large pumpkin or 4 to 5 small pumpkins
  • 1/2 cup raw green pumpkin seeds (optional)

Method:

Sauté onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, until glossy. Add meat, remaining oil and brown. Add water, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer 25 minutes. Cut top from pumpkin. Clean out and save seeds. Place pumpkin in shallow, sturdy baking dish. Add stock and tomatoes to stew. Pour all into pumpkin and replace top. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours for one large pumpkin or 1-1/2 hours for smaller pumpkins. Serve right from pumpkin. For added pizzazz: Soak pumpkin seeds in water with sea salt for 30 minutes or longer; drain. Place on cookie sheet while pumpkin is cooking and roast for the last 30 to 45 minutes. Add to stew for a crunchy topping.

Karen Langston is a Chief Body Reorganizer and extreme nutritionist. www.karenlangston.com, Karen@IamWorthit2.com or 623-252-HEAL (4325).

 

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2011.

 

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