(SENIOR WIRE) I’m a sucker for reminiscence. When I think of, eat, or see anything pumpkin, my thoughts drift back in time to memories of gray, rainy autumn days, hot cider, smoke from burning leaves hazing the air, outdoor football, snuggling under a blanket on hayrides beneath a harvest moon, giggling, sugar-charged trick-or-treaters, and, of course, Jack-o’-lanterns.
Then there’s the aroma of a creamy pumpkin pie fresh from the oven, topped with a dollop of genuine whipped cream. To me, artificial whipped cream is an abomination, and, for that one should be clobbered with a pumpkin ala Ichabod Crane.
Pumpkin, a symbol of prosperity, growth, and abundance, was a revered part of the native American Indian diet, and pumpkin seeds were valued more for their oil and medicinal properties than the orange flesh.
Before the Industrial Revolution, early Americans and Native Indians roasted pumpkin over campfires and used the highly nutritious fruit for medicine and food. Settlers hollowed out large pumpkins, filled them with milk, eggs, honey, maple syrup, and cinnamon, then baked in the hot ashes of their fireplaces. Perhaps the first version of a pumpkin pie?
The nutrient-dense squash helped settlers survive long winters. The golden, orange globes quickly became a standby of early New England settlements.
From Pilgrim verse, circa 1630: “For pottage and puddings and custards and pies, our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies, we have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon, If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon.”
According to MedicalNewsToday.com, pumpkin seeds provide overall prostate health (zinc), improved bladder function, prevent kidney stones, lower cholesterol levels, and they can treat depression with their L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.
The seeds’ (pepitas) anti-inflammatory qualities can also help prevent osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, and age-related macular degeneration.
Pumpkins brim with lutein and zeaxanthin that feed and protect our eyes and help maintain skin integrity. The fibrous orange miracle brims with magnesium, antioxidant vitamin C and E and potassium, and is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folate’s, niacin, vitamin B-6 thiamin and pantothenic acid.
Clearly the golden superstar of fall foods is a healthy powerhouse of wholesome, vibrant vitamin nutrition.
However, to fully benefit from pumpkin’s potent power, it must be fresh for our cells to recognize and absorb powerful, nutrient-dense vitamins.
Ditch the tin can puree. Back away from the grocery shelf, and no one will be harmed. Canned food is old, energetically dead food with little or no wholesome nutrition.
In autumn, there’s a plethora of plump pumpkins at local farmer’s markets. The orange superstar, a miracle of plant nutrition, can be used as medicine or in an entrée, soup, or dessert.
Please, nothing good comes from a sugary pumpkin spice latte with artificial flavoring. You deserve better. Get thee back into thy kitchen and cook pumpkins like the pilgrims and our ancestors. ISI
- 2-3 lb. sugar pumpkin (pie pumpkin)
- 1 Tbsp. coconut or avocado oil
- 1 pinch Himalayan salt (preferably)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- With a sharp knife, cut pumpkin in half lengthwise Use a sharp spoon or ice cream scoop to remove seeds and strings.
- Brush pumpkin flesh with oil, sprinkle with salt, and place flesh down on the baking sheet. Prick skin a few times with a fork or knife to allow steam escape.
- Bake 45-50 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the skin. Then remove pan from oven, let the pumpkin cool for 10 minutes, then scoop out and use for whatever recipe you prefer.
- If turning into purée, scoop pumpkin into blender or food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Baked pumpkin and pumpkin purée will keep covered in the refrigerator up to 1 week, or in the freezer for 1 month (or longer).