The Pleasures of Pumpkin by Susan Heckler

The Pleasures of Pumpkin by Susan Heckler

Is your home all decked out for Halloween? The family had a blast taking a hay ride and picking out their pumpkins to adorn the home, all bright and orange and glossy.  Bet you didn’t know that beautify baby is packed with nutrition!

Pumpkins are classified as a fruit of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes squash, gourds and melons. They are incredibly edible.

So when the doorbell stops ringing with the trick or treaters, don’t toss it!  Your phenomenal little pumpkin is packed in fiber and mood boosters, low in calories, and abounding with disease-fighting nutrients.  Even better, it isn’t just the pumpkin that contains potassium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and vitamins C and E. Those tasty little seeds carry nutritious protein, potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Carotenoids are the key… deep orange, yellow, or red-colored, fat-soluble compounds found in an assortment of plants. attract birds and insects for pollination as well as protect the plants from sun damage. A half-cup serving of pumpkin gives you more than two times the recommended daily dietary intake of alpha-carotene and 100 percent of the recommended daily dietary goal of beta-carotene.

Carotenoids have been shown to:

  • decrease the risk of various cancers, including lung, colon, bladder, cervical, breast and skin.
  • lower rates of heart disease
  • decreases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Have a positive effect on blood pressure.
  • help prevent degenerative damage to the eyes.
  • Nutrient Density and Low Calorie Count May Promote Weight Loss

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts
(1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt)

Calories: 49
Protein: 2 grams
Carbohydrate: 12 grams
Dietary Fiber: 3 grams
Calcium: 37 mg
Iron: 1.4 mg
Magnesium: 22 mg
Potassium: 564 mg
Zinc: 1 mg
Selenium: .50 mg
Vitamin C: 12 mg
Niacin: 1 mg
Folate: 21 mcg
Vitamin A: 2650 IU
Vitamin E: 3 mg


Pumpkin Seed Nutrition Facts

(One ounce (28 grams) of shell-free unsalted pumpkin seeds)

  • Calories: 151
  • Fiber: 1.7 grams
  • Carbs: 5 grams
  • Protein: 7 grams
  • Fat: 13 grams (6 of which are omega-6s)
  • Vitamin K: 18% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 42% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
  • Iron: 23% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 14% of the RDI
  • Copper: 19% of the RDI


So how do you prepare your pumpkin you ask?

This versatile little beauty can be used as a sweet or a savory in a bread, bar, cookie, cake, cheesecake, muffin, pie, soup, side dish, pasta, pancakes…  The internet is ripe with great recipes, surf and let your taste buds tell you which one.  One pumpkin goes a long way depending on the size.

There is a chill in the air and a frost on the ground so I am sharing my favorite soup.  You can make it smooth and creamy or leave some chopped ingredients for a chunkier soup.


Ingredients for 8 servings

  • 4 lbs. peeled, seeded and chopped pumpkin (reserve ½ cup of the seeds)
  • 2 Tbs. light olive oil
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large chopped yellow onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Heavy cream, half & half to taste as an option for creamier


For spiced pumpkin seeds (adjust to taste):

  • 3/4 cup cleaned pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon. canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon. salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon


Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Mix the raw pumpkin with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the pumpkin on a greased or parchment coated baking sheet and roast until softened and caramelized, 30 to 35 minutes.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot. Sauté the onion and garlic about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the cumin and coriander, stirring for 1 minute. Add the stock and roasted pumpkin and bring it all to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.


Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. You may need to work this in small batches based on your equipment.


Return the soup to the pot and taste test.  If needed, season with more salt and pepper. You can also add other seasonings to make it spicy.

Toasted pumpkin seeds are a great, optional garnish: Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toast for 10-12 minutes, stirring once to bake evenly.  You can also stir together some canola oil, salt, cayenne, cumin and cinnamon and add the uncooked pumpkin seeds to the spice mixture and stir to coat before baking until golden brown.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

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