A pumpkin can be a fun gourd to carve during the Halloween season, but pumpkins are also a good and healthy ingredient for dishes. Pumpkin has a soft texture and a sweet, earthy taste.
University of Idaho campus dietitian Marissa Rudley said pumpkins are rich with vitamin A and vitamin C. They also have different types of antioxidants that give them a vibrant yellow to orange color.
“Pumpkin is one of the highest source(s) of vitamin A,” Rudley said. “It can give 243 percent of vitamin A from just 100 grams of pumpkin and it has only 26 calories.”
Rudley said pumpkins are universally liked because it has a really mellow, pleasant taste to it and can be used in many different dishes.
“It can be pureed and can be used in pies and breads and cookies, muffins, puddings,” she said.
Rudley said pumpkin cooks really well. Aside from using pumpkin in desserts, she said pumpkins are often used in savory dishes, like chili, pumpkin puree and casserole.
“You can season it, even add some garlic and it becomes savory. You can add some cinnamon and make it sweet and flavorful,” Rudley said.
She also said pumpkin is a really good fat replacer. For example, substitute some oil with pumpkin. Not only is it healthier, but pumpkin will make the dish more moist and has a mellow taste.
Pumpkin is also a great source of iron and it has low sodium. Rudley said pumpkin is unique because people can pretty much eat every part of it, like pumpkin leaves and seeds, even the skins can also be used for serving food.
Pumpkin itself isn’t high in protein, but pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein.
“When you bring a pumpkin home, don’t throw out the seeds. Make sure you rinse them a little bit, you can actually roast them in the oven,” Rudley said. “It’s one of the highest seeds in protein.”
She said pumpkin seeds also are a good source of zinc and have low cholesterol. These seeds make a healthier snack than peanuts.
Rudley said her favorite Halloween dessert is pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The dough is fluffy and the cookies are cake-like.
UI student, Sarah Lanier, said her favorite Halloween dessert to make is pumpkin sugar cookies with orange and black sprinkles.
“It’s Halloween (style), and you can also get the black sprinkles (for) it, then you eat them and your teeth will turn black. You can go scare people,” she said.
Lanier said she enjoys baking these cookies every year and being really creative with it.
“Get crazy with the sprinkles and get crazy creative,” she said. “That and Christmas sugar cookies are my artistic talent of the whole year.”
Rudley said people should take advantage of Halloween season and be creative
with making a variety of pumpkin dishes.
Nurainy Darono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org