Pumpkin season!

The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping…and the pumpkins are out! While pumpkins can make your front stoop look festive, they are also an excellent and nutritious item for your belly!

According to nutritionandyou.com, pumpkins are packed with goodies:

  • It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 100 g fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. The vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
  • Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
  • With 7384 mg per 100 g, it is one of the vegetables in the Cucurbitaceae family featuring highest levels ofvitamin-A, providing about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help a body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • It is also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as α, ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body.
  • Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in retina of the eyes. Thus, it helps protect from “age-related macular disease” (ARMD) in the elderly.
  • The fruit is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
  • It is a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Pumpkin Seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. For instance, 100 g of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 g of protein, 110% RDA of iron, 4987 mg of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), zinc (71%) etc., but no cholesterol. Further, the seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan.

Alas, pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks are NOT a good source of pumpkin (or anything real or healthy), but these recipes are! Thanks to the fabulous blog My Jewish Learning and one of our go-to’s for quick, easy LIGHT recipes, Cooking Light for sharing these fantastic meals.

Pumpkin Red Pepper Soup with Sage and Challah Croutons

Ingredients

2 sugar pumpkins
3 red peppers
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
20 sage leaves
2 medium yukon potato, cubed
½ cup olive oil plus olive oil for brushing the pumpkin
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
4 cups water
1 tsp of maple syrup
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried sage
leftover challah, cut into cubes

Directions

Split the pumpkins in half, rub inside with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the maple syrup. Place 16 sage leaves inside and roast on a baking sheet at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours until inside of pumpkin is tender.

When there is a half an hour left, place the whole red peppers in the oven. Peppers should roast until the skin is crisp and a little black.

Once the pumpkin is out of the oven, discard the sage. Place the roasted red peppers in a paper bag. After the peppers have cooled, peel the skin, remove seeds and cut into pieces.

Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin using a large spoon. Discard the skin.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the

Add potatoes and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the roasted red pepper, the pumpkin flesh, and the remaining sage leaves. Sauté all veggies for another 5 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Add the liquid and bring to a boil. Once boiled turn down to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can puree in batches in a food processor or regular blender.

Spread the challah cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with dried sage and minced garlic.

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool.

Serve soup with challah croutons and sage as garnish if desired.

pumpkin soup with sage and challah croutons1

Roasted Pumpkin and Pomegranate Seed Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients for Salad

3 cups pumpkin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6 cups mixed winter salad greens
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
8 tsp lightly toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Vinaigrette: (makes 1/2 cup)

3 Tbsp pure pumpkin-seed oil (available in health-food stores and specialty markets)
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
3 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small chopped shallot (1 Tbsp)
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss pumpkin with olive oil, salt, and pepper and arrange in one layer on a lipped baking sheet. Roast until pumpkin is tender-firm and edges are caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

2. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until dressing emulsifies and has a creamy appearance.

3. Divide the greens evenly among 4 salad plates. Scatter 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin, 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds, 2 teaspoons pumpkin seeds, and 1 tablespoon goat cheese on top of each plate of greens. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.

Makes 4 Servings.
Per serving: 300 cal, 21 g fat (7 g sat), 23 g carbs, 410 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 9 g protein

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