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Pumpkin Power

Originally published on 10/3/12

I promised my River Current readers this week that I would share some info regarding the amazing health benefits of pumpkin, so I am re-posting this blog post from last year.  As I was thinking about all things pumpkin this morning, I was reminded of a queer little nursery rhyme from my childhood...Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater.  Had a wife and couldn't keep her.  Put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well.  What in the hell was that supposed to mean anyway? Maybe folks with marital problems should put their spouse in a pumpkin shell?  Good thing we don't read these old-time nursery rhymes to our children nowadays....if we did, they would be traumatized. 

Allow me to first share that I love all things pumpkin....everything from pies, cookies, pastas, ice cream...and yes, even pumpkin beer!  I love them all!  I anxiously anticipate this time of year and all of the cozy comforts that it brings along with it.  After a long hot summer, it is great to get out for my walks with a light sweat shirt and a comfy pair of jeans.  Ah yes, fall is upon us.

I am deep in my nutrition studies and I can already share with you some important ideas that I have taken away from my learning.  For starters, remember that food is something that I have always had a passion for.  However, I now have a passion to share what we can do to make our diets healthier and fresh.  It isn't about deprivation and suffering....clear that thinking from your head!  For me, it is about eating fresh and clean.  I have always been one to make things from scratch; never anything ready-made from a box or package for me or my family.  So this whole new way of thinking is not so very far away from where I have always been.  The biggest difference is that I am now searching for products that are local, fresh and organic.  Let's get the chemicals out of our kitchen cupboards!  And guess what?  There are healthy fats...fats are essential to our health. So your Butter Girl can still have her butter, I will just look for butter that is fresh and organic....and always in moderation!  Butter's toxic step-brothers, margarine and hydrogenated oils are the ones that we need to hide from.  Always keep in mind, if it was made in a laboratory and we can't pronounce it...then we probably don't want to eat it!

I have spent some time in the kitchen these last couple of weeks working on some new and healthy pumpkin recipes that I want to share with you.  Typically known for being a Halloween decoration or pie filling, pumpkins are a storehouse of vitamins, minerals and other healthy nutrients.  Here is a list of just a few of the things that pumpkin has to offer us; besides being a smiling jack-o-lantern!  (Who knows, maybe this is why they are always smiling?)
Bear with me, this is a very long list of good things!

Carotenoids - Pumpkins owe their bright orange color to their high amount of carotenoids. Carotenoids assist in fighting off free radicals in the body, and help in preventing premature aging, cardiovascular diseases and other infections. They are also high in Lutein & Zeaxanthin which prevent formation of cataracts and degeneration of the eye tissues.

Protein – Pumpkin seeds also known as Pepitas are a rich source of protein. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains approx. 7 grams of protein.
Essential Fatty Acids – Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of essential fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits. From providing protection against serious health diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer to promoting healthy skin and improving brain power.
Vitamin A – Pumpkin is a rich source of Vitamin A. Regular consumption of pumpkin (both seeds and flesh) can promote the health of your eyes and boost your immune system remarkably.
Vitamin C - Vitamin C helps fight free radicals, improves immunity and promotes the production of collagen. The high Vitamin C content in pumpkins also offers protection against various forms of cancer.
Magnesium - Both the pulp and seeds of pumpkin are rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral required for various biological functions. Magnesium is also required for the maintenance of bones and teeth.
Potassium & Zinc – Pumpkin is loaded with potassium and zinc. Studies show that eating a potassium-rich diet can prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. Zinc is important for providing bone density support for people at risk for osteoporosis. It boosts the immune system and promotes reproductive health.
Fiber – Pumpkin flesh is very low in calories and contains abundant quantities of extremely good dietary fiber. It is extremely effective for treating gastrointestinal disorders. The high amount of fiber also helps in lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood and in regulating the blood sugar levels.
Prostate Cancer – The protective compounds present within the pumpkin seeds, called phytosterols can lower the risk of prostate cancer. These work by shrinking the prostate and stimulating the secretion of chemicals that protect against the transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High DHT levels can cause enlargement of the prostate glands.
Great on your skin – The high amount of Vitamin A, C and E as well as Zinc present in pumpkin, make it a great choice for those who want a healthy and glowing skin.  a cup of pumpkin seeds per day to prevent the appearance of wrinkles and to keep your skin hydrated and nourished.
Prevents Kidney Stones – Have 5 to 10 grams of pumpkin seeds every day. This stimulates the kidneys and prevents the formation of calcium oxalate stones.
Depression – Pumpkin flesh contains L-tryptophan, a chemical compound that triggers feelings of well-being and happiness. Having pumpkin as a part of your daily diet can keep your spirits high and prevent depression.
Diuretics – Pumpkins are natural diuretics. These help in flushing out the toxins and unwanted waste material from the body, leaving you refreshed and healthy.
With so many health benefits, it is no wonder that pumpkin is an important part of the list of super foods!
(nutrition information shared from
OK...convinced?  Grab a can of organic pureed pumpkin and head to the kitchen with me!


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