Food and Recipe — By on December 1, 2009 12:20 PM


Written by, Dr. Joseph Russo who writes regularly for Yoga bean Magazine

Pumpkin is good for you!
Anyone who has resided in America, even for a short while, would have no trouble identifying a pumpkin in a lineup of suspicious vegetables. Pumpkins are pretty much ubiquitous; they are enjoyed in most countries around the world.
The word pumpkin originated from the Greek word “pepon” which means large melon. The British then mispronounced the French version of pumpkin as “pumpion” which led the American colonists to further modify the word to its present day version.
Pumpkin weights range from about one pound to greater than 1000 pounds. Usually, the weight is between 8 and 20 pounds. The current world record for the heaviest pumpkin in the world was just set in October in the Ohio Valley pumpkin contest. It weighed in at about 1729 pounds.  WOWZA!
Pumpkins are full of nutrients that are great for your body. Pumpkin is low in calories and fat and rich in vitamins and nutrients. For example one cup of boiled fresh pumpkin has about 50 calories, 2 to 3 grams of protein,  10grams of carbs and ZERO grams of fat!
Pumpkins are a very good source of antioxidants such as carotenoids, lutein and selenium.  Carotenoids, such as alpha and beta carotene, are well known antioxidants that can block free radicals. Free radicals are things which can damage cells in our bodies and possibly cause cancer.   Beta carotene may help reverse skin damage caused by the sun and alpha carotene can possibly SLOW the aging process. Lutein can slow the progression and may help prevent an eye disease called macular degeneration. Selenium is touted as an anticancer molecule.
There is also a decent amount of fiber in pumpkins (about 2 to 4 grams per cup) which may help reduce cholesterol, colon cancer and can aid in weight loss. Essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium (bone growth and function), potassium (cell stability and function), folate (blood cells) along with niacin, iron, and zinc are found in good supply in pumpkins. Additionally, pumpkin is a good source for Vitamins such as Vitamin E (may decrease heart disease and inflammation), Vitamin A (boosts immune system function and promotes healthy vision) and Vitamin C (possible antioxidant and many, many other functions).
Furthermore, pumpkin is an excellent plant source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omegas can reduce arterial inflammation and may prevent arterial disease.
Pumpkin has more versatility as a food source then we Americans tend to assign to it. Pumpkin is a staple for many people in many countries throughout the world mainly because it has a reasonably short growing time and produces a great yield along with being inexpensive to purchase.
Speaking of food, it is interesting to note that the origin of pumpkin pie was said to have occurred during the time of the American colonists. The colonists, for some reason or another, sliced off the top of the pumpkin, removed the seeds and then filled it with milk, honey and spices. Then they baked it in the ground for several hours. Eventually, this recipe included scooping out great smelling pumpkin pie filling and adding it to a pie crust.
I for one, greatly appreciate the efforts of the colonists concerning pumpkin pie because it is my favorite type of pie.
There are numerous pumpkin pie recipes from various parts of the country. Some of these recipes state that they are close to the original colonial pumpkin pie recipe. The one recipe that I tend to feel most comfortable with is the one printed on the back of the pumpkin can. I know that it sounds unsophisticated but with some slight modifications, like substituting honey for sugar and going easy on the nutmeg and making your own pie crust, the pie is a smash at any Thanksgiving dinner.
Here is a nice recipe for a pumpkin “pick me up” that I came across in my travels:
Pumpkin shake
½ can 7oz pumpkin
5 to 8 ice cubes
4 to 8 oz of vanilla soy or rice milk
Cinnamon and/or nutmeg to taste
1 Tbs Honey
4oz of fresh squeezed Orange or Pineapple juice
Blend and serve
The take home message from this article is:  Eat more pumpkin and you will not only look younger but you will feel younger.
Until next time, fly low and avoid the radar!
PS: For anyone who would like to know if a pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable, it is technically a fruit but qualifies as both. The botanical definition states that anything grown that has seeds in the area that is eaten is  a fruit. All other things without seeds in the area to be eaten are vegetables. A vegetable, besides having a botanical definition, also has a culinary definition. This definition has more to do with the taste of the eaten part of the item in question. If the suspect has a more sour taste and is considered by the culinary world as a vegetable then it qualifies as a vegetable.
I think a person should focus more on the nutritive value of the item rather than its true category. Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!! 

If you have any great recipes with your favorite foods, please send them to me and I will include them in this section of an upcoming issue.  Or if you have any suggestions about what veggie, fruit, herb etc. you’d like to know more about- Just email me at tina@yogabean.net.  Thanks!



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