Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Health food: Pumpkin

The humble pumpkin is what the doctor ordered. It is a cheap, simple to cook and tasty health food. And, all parts of pumpkin except the root are edible and have excellent nutritional value.

During my childhood I have heard it said in my village that smokers should eat a lot of pumpkin. They had a point all right. Pumpkin contains a good dose of beta-carotene. Modern research confirms that beta-carotene could reduce the risk of some types of cancer and is a prophylactic against heart disease. Carotenoids give pumpkins the orange color.

There is more. The anti-oxidants lutein and zeaxanthin contained in pumpkins may offer protections against cataracts and macular degeneration and therefore, are good for the eyes. Also contained in this nature’s package are nutrients like iron, zinc and fiber.

There are so many easy ways to make attractive looking and delicious pumpkin (by itself or in combination with other food) preparations for the table. Boiled and mashed pumpkin flesh is said to be a good baby food. Ammachi (see Oru Desathinte Amma.) used to make a sweet munch – diced pumpkin pieces coated with sugar. That was great.

How many people include pumpkin leaves and flowers in their home menu? They involve very little preparation time, cooking is easy and the flavor good. Use them in salads or soups. The leaves can also be stir fried, boiled, roasted, steamed or stewed. Many recipes are available on the Internet. Or develop your own. Add spices, masala if you want the Indian taste

The flowers are excellent as well. They can be added to salads and curries. Or make fritters with them. At my home, some dishes are served hot garnished with whole pumpkin flowers. They look lovely and blend well with the food.

Do not throw away the pumpkin seeds (pepitas). They have high nutritional value and are considered helpful in avoiding prostrate problems, arthritis, and osteoporosis. The pumpkin seeds may also reduce cholesterol levels.

Eat pumpkins regularly. They are good for you.


(Photos by me from Olavipe. Copyright reserved. Click on them for enlarged view.)

Also see: Ammachi's Health Recipe - may lower cholesterol, blood sugar.


Kariyachan said...

I have eaten Mathanga poovu 'thoran and 'ulathiyathu' many a times. Especially with the traditional breakfast 'Kanji'.

Kariyachan said...

Steak / barbeque with boiled or roast pumpkin, spinach and maize meal (Pap) is the staple diet epsecially with the English and Afrikaner community in South Africa.


Very useful info there. And the photo of the flower is superb.

Gardenia said...

This underrated vegetable has got its due here!
Here in North Bengal, people eat the tender leaves made into a simple stir-fried preparation, and they recommend the dish as a cure for anaemia.