I have been itching to write about the ubiquitous pumpkin ever since Halloween went past. In fact if I go further back, the itch has been there ever since I experienced Halloween first hand in California, couple of years back while staying at the legendary, historic and supposedly haunted (but then that’s a different story for another time) National Hotel at the Jackson city located an hour away from Sacremento, the state’s capital. This sleepy town, then in October was awash with Halloween decorations, and trust me they were all beyond brilliant. But what is still fresh in my mind are the interesting decorations made with whole pumpkins, beginning with the one I saw plonked right at the hotel’s reception.
Of course, one has heard and read enough about it, and seen pictures by the dozens, but only when you see them so beautifully carved and all lighted up – and so many of them together – that pumpkins-Halloween connect becomes real for you.
There I heard the story about how it all began with Stingy Jack, umpteen times but for now let’s move beyond stories and decorations and come to the point of this post, which is that I also ate plenty of pumpkins during the stay there, in many interesting ways – and actually enjoyed this humble vegetable as one really should: pumpkin lattes, pumpkin donuts, baked pumpkin fries, pumpkin risotto, quinoa stuffed pumpkin (believe you me!) and, of course the pumpkin puree showed up in almost everything: from muffins, to Greek yoghurt to cookies and even served mixed up with granola for breakfast!
Now we don’t really celebrate Halloween in India but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with pumpkin… because this vegetable I believe is straight out of a health fairy tale.
For starters, pumpkin is extremely low calorie (just 26 per 100 gm), is loaded with fibre that keeps your gut happy, delivers a lot of vitamin A – a nutrient which keeps our eyes sharp and also has a role in cancer prevention.
It also pumps up potassium, an important electrolyte that keeps our muscles functioning at their best and delivers vitamin C that can help ward off colds. Pumpkin seeds pack a big punch too! They are rich in phytosterols that has been shown to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and the tryptophan in them can keep our mood upbeat too.
Inspired! You could, of course, have some pumpkin subzi for lunch today, or maybe pumpkin soup at night! Or maybe just to spice things up try out some new stuff with this extremely versatile vegetable.
Here’s the recipe of Pumpkin Bread
I ate in one of the small market cafes during that trip. Had jotted down the recipe from the owner chef, but promptly forgotten about it post the trip; have now dug it out and intend making it soon. You could too and let me know how it goes.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly grease an 8″ or 9″ loaf pan.
- In a large bowl blend 1/2 cup honey, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1/4th cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla and 2 eggs.
- Stir in 1 1/2 cup maida, 1/2 cup mixed nuts, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/4th tsp salt.
- Pour into a slightly greased loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Loosen sides of loaf and remove from pan. Let it cool completely before slicing.
Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She contributes to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.
Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan