The chances are if you have little ones at home at the moment, that you also have a large pumpkin sitting around the house, looking a little abandoned after Halloween.
But did you know that as well as becoming an October and November home decorating must-have, that the humble pumpkin is one of the most nutritious (and delicious) superfoods out there?
Here’s the rundown of the nutrients which are found in pumpkins – via Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness coach Frank Lipman:
Vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin support eye health and help protect against vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Cancer-fighting beta-carotene is one of several antioxidants in pumpkin that are linked to reduced cancer risk.
Fibre — about 3 grams per cup of pumpkin — helps fill you up, slow digestion down, keep blood sugar on an even keel, and keep you fuller longer.
Potassium helps balance electrolytes, and a cup’s worth of pumpkin has more of it (564 mgs) than a medium-sized banana (422 mgs).
Immunity–supporting Vitamin C, plus thiamin, folate, magnesium, riboflavin, copper and manganese, are all essential to sustaining wellness.
And, don’t forget the seeds! Don’t toss out those wonderfully healthy little snacks that are a bonus in every gourd. They’re packed with nutrients and phytosterols which help protect your heart and immune system — and they taste great too! Simply scoop out, given them a rinse, pat dry, and then roast in the oven. The next step? Toss with your favorite spices and enjoy.
Gone are the days of having to make piles of pumpkin pie with the remnants of your kids’ spooky lantern. There’s a variety of delicious pumpkin recipes available; from smoothies, (add a banana, a hefty drizzle of raw honey, a handful of chopped raw pumpkin, a cup of almond milk, a few slices of raw turmeric, a teaspoon of lucuma powder and a sprinkle of nutmeg and blend for the perfect morning or afternoon snack) to soup (we’re adding French chef Raymond Blanc’s decadent creamy Michelin-starred recipe below) to a spicy Balinese curry (also below.)
Raymond Blanc’s Perfect Pumpkin Soup Recipe
“A very easy soup,” says two Michelin-starred French chef Raymond Blanc, “which has lots of richness and flavour. The success of this dish depends very much on the variety of the pumpkin. The best I have found is ‘Potiron Muscade’, which is quite large, relatively flat, with dark brown skin and very pronounced curves. In my opinion, this is the best variety to make this soup. You can replace the pumpkin with butternut squash and should you wish you could serve this soup with a generous serving of crème fraiche. This soup can be prepared one day in advance.”
Serves (Yield): 4
Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
400g Pumpkin flesh, ripe, outer skin removed & diced 2cm
200g / 1 small Onions, chopped finely
40g /2 tbsp Butter, unsalted
8g / 8 pinches Sea salt
½g /1 pinch White pepper, freshly ground
6g / 6 pinches Sugar, caster
600ml Milk, whole, organic
Crème fraiche – optional
On medium heat, in a 25 cm (10-inch) saucepan, soften the onions in the butter for approximately 5 minutes without coloring. Add the diced pumpkin and soften for approximately 6-8 minutes (the softening with the butter will bring out the sweet flavor of the pumpkin) stirring from time to time then season with salt, pepper and caster sugar. Add the milk, bring to simmering point and simmer for 10 minutes. Note: if you boil the milk too long it will separate, so cook very gently.
Liquidise the soup until it reaches a smooth velvety consistency. Bring the soup back to the boil and serve in a large soup tureen. A nice helping of crème fraiche adds a suitably decadent touch.
Balinese Pumpkin Curry (Kare Waluh)
Stacey, who runs award winning blog, MyNutriCounter says: “This delicious recipe was one that I was taught in a Balinese cooking class at Casa Luna Cooking School. It’s so easy to make and really flavoursome. I’m not a massive fan of really spicy food so this dish was perfect for me as it’s not too hot.”
3 tbsp. coconut oil
250g/8.8 oz pumpkin, chopped into 2-3cm cubes.
3 salam leaves (or 1 bay leaf)
3 lime leaves (available at most Asian food markets, but if you can’t get hold of these you can substitute for zest of 1 lime)
2 lemongrass, knotted
355ml/12fl oz of water
120ml/4 fl oz coconut milk
1 tbsp. fried shallots
For the spice paste:
3 garlic cloves
1 long red chilli, seeded and chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped galangal (this is a type of ginger available from Ocado)
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. chopped ginger
3 candle nuts (or macadamias, almonds or brazil nuts)
3 tsp. grated palm sugar (or maple syrup)
2 tsp. coriander (cilantro) seeds
Start by making the spice paste. In Indonesian cooking this is done using a mortar, but an easier and quicker alternative is to use the food processor. Blitz all the ingredients until well combined into a golden yellow paste flecked with chilli and tomato skin.
Heat the coconut oil in a wok over a medium heat and fry the spice paste for 30 seconds. Add the salam leaves (or bay leaf), lemongrass and lime leaves (or zest) and toss for 30 seconds.
Add the chopped pumpkin to the wok and fry for 1 minute, then add the water and simmer until the pumpkin has softened and cooked.
Add the coconut milk and fried shallots and gently simmer for 1 minute, until slightly thickened then serve with steamed rice.