From coffee to cereal, it seems like the world goes pumpkin-spice crazy every fall. There's even pumpkin-spice chewing gum (seriously, there's pumpkin-spice chewing gum). In all this madness, we often forget that pumpkin (not the flavoring, but actual real pumpkin), is extremely nutritious. So put down the PSL (pumpkin-spice latte) and learn a little bit about this humble fall vegetable.
Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America. In Mexico, seeds from related plants were found dating back to 7000-5500 B.C. Pumpkins are part of the Cucurbita family, along with squash and cucumbers. Pumpkins are 90% water and low in calories. One cup of pumpkin (not the pie filling, but plain pumpkin) boasts only 50 calories. Compare that with a cup of mashed sweet potatoes at 250 calories! It's high in Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and contains 1/3 of your daily vitamin C. Other nutrients of note include B vitamins, fiber, copper, potassium and phosphorous. Pumpkin seeds are quite nutritious; they are high in protein, fiber, monounsaturated (healthy) fats, and Vitamin K.
Think outside the pie shell when cooking with pumpkin. It pairs well with soup or stews in place of other types of squash. Make sweet potato casserole a bit healthier by adding mashed pumpkin. Stir a spoonful into your vanilla yogurt for fall snack or light dessert.
Still thinking about a Starbucks run for your PSL? Try this make at home, lighter recipe instead!