Vegetable Spotlight: Pumpkins

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Pumpkins

Fall is soon upon us, and what better way to celebrate the cooler weather than celebrating the harvest of another Vegetable Spotlight, the pumpkin! Pumpkins are apart the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae. This family includes watermelons, cucumber, and summer squash varieties.

Jack-O'-Lanterns

Jack-O-Latern!

Pumpkins also come in a variety of sizes and colors, from big and small, the popular orange and the blue. We all know that the most popular use for pumpkins is to make those grinning Jack-O’-Lanterns. However, it is just as good and healthy as an ingredient in dishes! Pumpkins are high in Vitamin A, which is beneficial for vision and for immune health. According to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Pumpkin is also high in potassium and magnesium. You can enjoy pumpkin in classic recipes like pumpkin pie or something different as pumpkin soup. Below is a recipe from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for healthy pumpkin bread. No matter how you consume your pumpkin, grab some extra for your meals this fall!

Healthy Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

Vegetable oil or cooking spray
2⅔ cups sugar
⅓ cup canola oil
⅓ cups unsweetened applesauce
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
4 eggs
⅔ cup nonfat plain yogurt
2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup toasted wheat germ
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1½ cups raisins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Spray two 8 ½-by-4 ½-by 2 ½-inch loaf pans or 24 muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Cream together sugar, canola oil, applesauce, pumpkin, eggs and yogurt until smooth.
  3. Stir together flour, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Combine the dry mixture with the wet mixture; stir until well combined. Fold in raisins.
  5. Pour into prepared pans (fill muffin tins ⅔ full). Bake for 50 minutes (loaves) or 25 minutes (muffins).

Additional:

Instead of raisins, substitute sweetened dried cranberries, which lend a tangy taste.

This recipe freezes well as muffins or bread, up to three months. Thaw at room temperature, in the microwave (about 15 seconds per muffin or slice, or in the toaster [slices only]).

References:

“All About Pumpkins” – The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County

“Healthy Pumpkin Bread Recipe” – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics