All About Pumpkin!

Colorful maple leaves blanket my yard, the evenings beg for a roaring fire in the fireplace and fall produce abounds at the farmer's market. It's pumpkin season!

Fresh Pumpkins
Photo by Ladyheart,
I truly love everything about autumn including the availability of local squash. From acorn and butternut to spaghetti, I really enjoy them all. But, the best known player in the bunch is probably the pumpkin.

Nutritional Information About Pumpkins

One cup of fresh mashed pumpkin contains 49 calories and 2 grams of protein. Pumpkin is cholesterol and fat free. If you're looking to increase your vitamin C, E or riboflavin levels, pumpkin is a good source of these nutrients.

The number one vitamin found in pumpkin is vitamin A. One mashed cup contains 245 percent of your daily requirements!

Pumpkin is even good for your skin. Check out my article about pumpkin seed oil on Daily Glow.

Cooking and Baking with Pumpkin

Once you've sparked your curiosity about baking with pumpkin and gobbled up a homemade pumpkin pie, get ready to experiment. In addition to pumpkin bars, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cookies, the squash also works as an ingredient in a few healthy dishes.

Mashed Pumpkin
Photo by Maxstraeten,
Australians serve pumpkin soup as often as Americans enjoy a bowl of chicken noodle soup. During my time in Melbourne, Australia I sampled many versions of pumpkin soup. One of my favorite cooks, Alton Brown, offers his recipe for Squash Soup here.

Cubes of pumpkin caramelize beautifully under a drizzle of olive oil in a hot oven. Add a few sliced onions and green peppers to the pan to create a colorful autumn side dish.

If you're looking to skim a few calories from your dinner tonight, whip up mashed pumpkin in lieu of mashed potatoes. Boil and mash the squash the same way you prepare potatoes, then season with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and sweet cream butter.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

My Secret Cookie Ingredient

In addition to learning about whole foods and their nutritional properties, I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. And, it's partly out of necessity.

We don't have vegan, vegetarian or whole foods restaurants in my neck of the woods. If you want to avoid processed foods, fried foods or unnecessary calories, you need to get crafty in the kitchen. Luckily, I look forward to my "kitchen time" each day.

My Secret Ingredient: Raw Sugar

Raw Sugar
Photo by Fritzs, Wikimedia Commons
My most recent unexpected discovery is the baking quality of raw sugar. Everyday all-purpose baking sugar gets processed with chemicals to create a pure white, even-textured sweetener. A package of raw sugar contains uneven granules of honey-colored sugar cane. Although raw sugar isn't a true whole food, it's much closer to natural sugar cane than white sugar.

Using Raw Sugar

Sprinkling raw sugar atop a homemade apple pie gives it a rustic look. The oversized sugar granules add a tasty, sweet crunch to the top of blueberry muffin. And my personal favorite: Cookies baked with raw sugar stay thicker than those made with brown or white sugar. If you like a dense chocolate chip cookie, substitute raw sugar in your next batch.

Magically, when I made my first pumpkin pie of the season with raw sugar it turned out perfect. I was unsure if the large granules would melt. Pumpkin pie should have a creamy, smooth filling. The raw sugar didn't let me down.

Although I could sing praises about raw sugar all day long, it's still best enjoyed in moderation. But, if you need a recommendation for a calorie-free sweetener, try my other kitchen buddy, stevia.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!