Pumpkins, not just for Halloween

By Sue Bedford (MSc Nut TH)

Pumpkins are in season at the moment and they are packed full of goodness. So, when you are carving them out this Halloween don’t waste the insides or the seeds, why not enjoy the pulp with a series of hearty recipes this October?

Pumpkin provides a range nutritional benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant. It also gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant colour. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. Pumpkins also contain other important antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, and are a good source of fibre and potassium.

Pumpkins and fertility

In relation to male fertility, pumpkin seeds are packed full of zinc which has been known to increase semen levels and testosterone levels. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which stimulate blood flow to sexual organs and improve sexual function. Zinc is also important in female fertility too when trying to conceive, as zinc is vital in the production of mature eggs that are ready to be fertilised. Omega 3 fatty acids also help to reduce inflammation which is associated with fertility issues such as endometriosis and also help balance hormones.

So, don’t throw those pumpkin seeds out this Halloween – clean the seeds, dry them and bake them in the oven for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees C. Add spices with a little olive oil or cover them in cinnamon and honey whilst they are roasting and you have an easy nutritious snack to enjoy. Also, why waste the flesh of the pumpkin when you can make it into this lovely spicy pumpkin soup?

Spicy pumpkin soup

Ingredients

One small pumpkin

Two tablespoons olive oil

Four potatoes

Two onions

One chilli (finely chopped) – adjust to suit

One litre of vegetable stock (add more as required for desired thickness)

Seasoning

Method

Cut the pumpkin flesh, onion and potatoes into cubes (discard seeds and stringy bits).

Warm a large pot and add in olive oil. Add in the onions and cook till soft.

Then, add in the potatoes and pumpkin. Cook for a couple of minutes.

Add in the vegetable stock and chilli and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes and pumpkin are soft.

Using a blender or food processor, blend the soup until smooth. Adjust thickness as necessary by adding extra water if required.

Season and enjoy.

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