The benefits of eating pumpkin go far beyond the satisfaction of creamy pumpkin pie. Packed with vitamins and minerals, a half cup of boiled pumpkin contains only 22 calories! Whether you use fresh or canned, fall is the perfect season for cooking with pumpkin.
What are the health benefits of eating pumpkin?
As its bright orange color suggests, pumpkin provides a healthy dose of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Vitamin A supports vision, immunity, and proper growth and healing. One cup of boiled pumpkin supplies 78% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin A.
Pumpkin also promotes healthy eyes through the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin it contains.
Pumpkin packs an impressive potassium punch: 564 mg in one cup of boiled pumpkin. That's as much as a medium banana!
Nutritional benefits don't stop with pumpkin pulp. Whole pumpkin seeds come packed with essential nutrients, including magnesium and potassium. Pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) are equally nutritious.
How can eating pumpkin benefit weight loss?
Due to its high water content, pumpkin is low in calories relative to its weight. Research shows that choosing foods with low energy density can help support weight loss by helping you feel fuller on fewer calories. Pumpkin's fiber content (3 grams per one cup, boiled) can also help you feel more full.
How to bake a pumpkin
The taste and texture of typical jack-o-lantern pumpkins make them less appealing for eating. For a sweeter flavor and firmer texture, choose a smaller "pie pumpkin" or "sweet pumpkin."
Preheat oven to 325F.
Wash the outside of the pumpkin to remove dirt, scrubbing around the stem area with a vegetable brush or cloth.
On a cutting board, hold the pumpkin firmly with one hand while inserting the tip of a sharp knife at a 45-degree angle and cut around the stem. When loosened, pull off the stem.
Carefully cut the pumpkin in half vertically using a large, sharp knife.
Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Set the seeds aside to wash in a sieve and save for roasting, if desired.
Place each pumpkin half cut side down on an edged baking sheet. Add 1/4-inch of water to the bottom of the pan to keep the pumpkin moist.
Bake for about one hour (depends on pumpkin size) until tender. Pierce with a fork to test tenderness.
Remove pumpkin from oven and let cool.
After it's cooled, scoop out the pumpkin pulp from the shell.
Extra pulp freezes well in airtight containers or freezer bags.