When North Americans think of Pumpkin the first image to pop to mind is probably its finishing role in Thanksgiving celebrations – Pumpkin Pie. One could be forgiven for thinking it was an unhealthy vegetable given its close associations with sweet desert but this image could not be further from its true character. Pumpkin is in fact a super food – packed high in fibre, potassium, vitamins and carotenoids with a very low calorie count. This hardly fits its symbolic finishing role in the culinary excesses of Thanksgiving!
Pumpkin is a solid source of fibre. The fibre content of a one cup serving of cooked pumpkin provides 5 grams of fibre which is more than you get from most supermarket cereals. Consuming pumpkins cab is healthy habit if one could eat it without adding the sugar and fat found in Thanksgiving pies. Fortunately there are more than a few ways to consume pumpkin that will not only improve your health but satisfy even the most fickle gourmand.
The first step to expanding your culinary and health horizons in regards to the pumpkin is to master one basic preparation – Roasting a pumpkin. This is the building block for a wider variety of recipes including soups, breads and desserts.
Cut the pumpkins in half with a knife that has a strong blade. Using a large metal spoon, scrape the seeds and stringy interior out. Season the insides of the pumpkin half with brown sugar or maple syrup along with a large knob of butter. Alight sprinkling of sea salt will assist in the roasting as well as helping define the flavor.
Roast with the cut side on silicon mats or parchment paper. Roasting at lower temperatures (325F 165C) allows the pumpkin to roast fully with out adding too much caramel colour meaning your pumpkin desserts will be more orange than brown . The pumpkin in fully roasted when light pressing reveals a soft interior . Allow to cool completely before scooping the cooked interior away from the skin, This can be done will in advance and frozen until ready to use. Continue according to individual healthy pumpkin recipes.
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