Here in Sonoma County the leaves are beginning to change from vibrant greens to lush reds and oranges. The fog seems to linger a bit longer in the morning and with each passing day, nightfall begins to creep in earlier. All indications that fall has arrived. Yet, it seems that the inaugural fall moment is the release of pumpkin spiced .. everything! From pumpkin pie to pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin seed mylk, pumpkin ignites coziness and nostalgia for seasonal rituals. Aside from being a festive décor item, pumpkins are on par with many superfoods, meaning they pack a nutritional punch.
Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, also known as the gourd family. This plant family consists of over 900 species, including watermelon, cucumber, zucchini and squash. For nearly 5,000 years, pumpkins have been cultivated here in the U.S. While fall tends to only last a couple months, much preparation is required for pumpkins with plantings occurring in late May to early July. They tend to be greedy feeders and it’s no surprise seeing as they can be gigantic.
The nutritional analysis of pumpkin branches into two categories: pumpkin flesh, which is either cubed and cooked or pureed, and pumpkin seeds. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, one cup of pumpkin flesh contains over 200% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A and 20% of the daily recommendation for vitamin C. Like many other starchy vegetables, pumpkin is rich in fiber, which keeps you full and helps maintain stable blood sugar regulations. Pumpkin seeds are rich sources of zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, antioxidants, unsaturated fat and plant-based protein.
Eat the rainbow .. and no, not skittles! Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors is a great way to ensure you’re giving your body all the vital nutrients it needs to function. Orange colored produce indicates high levels of alpha and beta carotene, which primarily function as antioxidants. Research shows that consuming foods rich in carotenoids may reduce the risk of certain diseases and aids in slowing the aging process. Similar to pumpkin spice’s infiltration of all food categories, pumpkin carries a myriad of therapeutic benefits. Research has shown health benefits related to bone health, diabetes management, heart health, liver function, digestive health, immune responses, vision, urinary function and insomnia.
The last benefit of pumpkins relates to environmental health. We are big proponents of sustainable agriculture and waste reduction. Sustainability in the kitchen translates to finding ways in which we can utilize the entire plant. During our research, we stumbled upon this article from Sustainable America on how to eat an entire pumpkin. We love the idea of dehydrating the pumpkin skin as a nutritious snack, rather than composting the skins.
Before we know it, fall will drift into winter and the rains will come. Until then, you can find us cozying up with a steamy Great Pumpkin Spice latte. We may have a few other pumpkin recipes up our sleeves. Stay tuned 😉
In Good Health,
With gratitude, we get by with a little help from our friends ..
Mark Hyman Food: What the heck should I eat?
(1) Spruce Eats
(2) Green Blender
(3) Kirbie's Cravings
Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The Nectary does not provide medical advice or treatment, nor it is a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before consuming anything mentioned within these posts.