Foodie: Gorgeous, delicious and nutritious pumpkin

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(courtesy photo)
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By Elizabeth Holm

This time of year, we are constantly reminded of pumpkins. Jack-O-lanterns at Halloween and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving are traditions that many of us would never miss. There is nothing easier than opening a can of pumpkin to make a pie. Given its nutritional value, I use canned pumpkin year-round in breads, muffins, pies and even yogurt. 

But, the joy of making a pumpkin pie in the fall is using fresh, sweet pumpkins bought straight from the farmers who grow them. The wonderful taste and bright orange color create an amazing end to any dinner. My favorite is a Kabocha or Sunshine pumpkin. You can find a variety of fresh, sweet pie pumpkins at your local farmer’s market. 

Pumpkin is a member of the squash family so look for them in a pile with other winter squashes. Its vibrant orange color is created by beta-carotene, a powerful anti-oxidant that can help prevent certain cancers and may protect our eyes from macular degeneration. Beta-carotene is also converted in our bodies to Vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining our skin and our eyesight. 

In addition, pumpkin is a great source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C, which are helpful in regulating blood sugar, blood pressure and the immune system. So, if there is any pumpkin pie leftover from your Thanksgiving dinner, eat it as a delicious and healthy addition to your breakfast the next day.

Recipe: Best Pumpkin Pie Ever

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh* or canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • ¼ t salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup whiskey
  • 1 unbaked 9 ½ inch pie crust
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon

Directions

  1. Stir together pumpkin, cornstarch, sugar and salt. 
  2. Add eggs, milk and whiskey. Beat 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.
  3. Pour into an unbaked pie crust.
  4. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
  6. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool before serving.

*To make fresh pumpkin puree: cut a fresh pumpkin in half and place the halves flesh side down on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 ½ hours or until the pumpkin flesh is tender. Remove and discard seeds. Scrap the pumpkin from the pumpkin skin and mash into a smooth puree.

Elizabeth Holm, DrPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist in private practice in Alexandria. She can be reached at emholm@verizon.net.

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