29 October 2013 Move Your Pumpkin from the Porch to the Kitchen!

Move Your Pumpkin from the Porch to the Kitchen!

Did you know that one cup (116 grams) of pumpkin as calculated by MyNetDiary contains only 30 calories and 0 grams of fat? Whether you use fresh or canned, fall is a wonderful season to experiment in your kitchen with pumpkin and still stay within your calorie budget to meet your weight loss goals.

Health Benefits

As it's bright orange color would suggest, pumpkin provides a healthy dose of vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene. Vitamin A is important for vision, immunity, proper growth and healing, and antioxidant properties. Actually, one cup (116 grams) of pumpkin contains 257% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin A! In addition, pumpkin also provides eye-healthy phytochemicals of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Choosing a Pumpkin

At our favorite pumpkin farm in Nebraska, all pumpkins in the field were the same price. Of course, being the thrifty person that I am, I picked the biggest one! Our family of four cooperated by carrying together our prize pumpkin to the car. We decided to bake the pumpkin and see how many cups of pulp it would yield.

How to Bake a Pumpkin

  1. Wash off the skin of the pumpkin with water so that there is no dirt.
  2. With a hammer and one wide, clean, two-inch nail, pound about five to eight nail holes into the thick skin of the pumpkin, so that during the baking process, the pumpkin does not explode in the oven (this is an old Colorado farm girl secret from my Mom!).
  3. Place pumpkin on a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet with edges in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 to 2 hours or until pumpkin is soft to the touch.
  4. Remove from oven. With a large knife, cut open the pumpkin. Let cool. Remove seeds with a spoon. Wash seeds in a sieve and save them to roast!
  5. Scoop out pumpkin from the shell and put the pulp into individual pint (2 cup) freezer bags to freeze for future use. Use these individual bags for any pumpkin recipe throughout the year.
Though my pumpkin was not 1,985 pounds,I was able to freeze 30 cups of pumpkin which fit into 15 freezer bags (2 cups of pumpkin in each bag). It was a bargain!

What to do with 2 cups of pumpkin? Fresh, frozen, or canned.

If you are in a savory mood, try this Hearty Sante Fe Pumpkin Soup Recipe which provides 9 grams of fiber and 270 calories in a 1.25 cup serving.

If you are in a sweet mood, here is a healthy alternative to pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin Mousse
2 small packages (1 oz. each) of instant sugar-free vanilla pudding
2 cups of skim milk
1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice
15 oz. can of pumpkin or 2 cups fresh/frozen pumpkin
8 oz. of fat free cool whip

Make pudding first with skim milk. Then, mix in the rest of the ingredients. Chill for one hour. Serve. A 1/2 cup of mousse, provides 72 calories, 15 grams of total carbs (5 g sugar, 1 g fiber), 2 g of protein, 0 g fat, 116% DV for Vitamin A and 8% DV for calcium. If you track using MyNetDiary, you can copy this food item by logging into the web program, click on Community tab, click nickname "Dietitian," view custom foods, and then when you find the row with “Martha's Pumpkin Mousse”, click “copy” on the far right column and add it to your custom foods list.

How can eating fruits and vegetables help you maintain a healthy weight?

Pumpkin is low in calories at just 30 calories in one cup. Many other fruits and vegetables are also low in calories compared to the same volume of other foods. Look at this volume comparison chart to see how you can save calories by eating fruits and vegetables.

Enjoy cooking with pumpkin to create delicious, healthy dishes within your calorie budget!

Martha Henze

MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

Tags:

Foods & Recipes/Fruit & Vegetables Holidays / Parties/Halloween Nutrients/Vitamin A & beta-carotene

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