A sure sign that Fall is here is that pumpkin is everywhere! From coffee drinks and baked goods to jack-o-lanterns–yes, everywhere! But how much do you know about pumpkins?
Pumpkin — fruit or vegetable?
Pumpkin (Cucurbita Maxima) is technically a fruit. It’s a type of winter squash in the same plant family (Cucurbitaceae) as cucumbers and melons.
“The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for “large melon”, something round and large. The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and to the later American colonists became known as pumpkin.”
What is the best time of year to find fresh pumpkin?
Pumpkin is a cool-weather fruit, and are at their best between late September and early November.
5 benefits of pumpkin
1. It’s nutritious
As you can imagine, pumpkins are packed full of nutrients. They contain good amounts of immune-boosting nutrients including vitamin A, C, E, folate, and beta-carotene. Vitamin A is also great for your eyesight, particularly as you age.
2) It’s low in calories
Like many fruits and veggies, all of the nutrients mentioned above come with a small number of calories, meaning you get more bang for your buck. A ½ cup of pumpkin has only 15 calories! Of course, we’re talking about raw pumpkin, NOT a sugary latte or a can of pumpkin pie filling (both of which contain a ton of added sugar).
Bonus: pumpkin’s high fiber content also helps curb your appetite.
3) It’s Great for Your Skin
We all know that too much direct sun exposure is bad for our skin, but did you know that you can use pumpkin pulp to create an all-natural face-mask that can help soothe your skin?
According to an article from One Green Planet (citing the International Dermal Institute), pumpkins can help brighten and smooth skin as well as providing us with acne-fighting zinc and vitamin E.
4) It may help in the treatment of diabetes
Note: This benefit is definitely one you want to discuss with your doctor before making any changes.
Some studies have shown that pumpkin may be used to treat diabetes. In a Reuter’s health news article published in 2007 (citing the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture), pumpkin extract was found to help control their blood sugar levels in both people with diabetes as well as pre-diabetics.
The study found that pumpkin extract not only helped lower blood glucose levels but also helped increase insulin secretion and insulin-producing beta cells.
Again, please consult with your doctor before changing anything you are currently using to treat diabetes or pre-diabetes.
5) It’s good for dogs
You may have guessed that pumpkin is good for dogs because it’s a main ingredient of many natural dog treats.
Pumpkin is great for curbing diarrhea or resolving constipation in dogs, but you should always get him checked out by a vet if you see blood in his stool or witness any other signs of illness.
Pumpkin is a fiber-rich food that gives your pup a vitamin boost just as it does for humans. The fiber is a prebiotic that helps fight harmful gut bacteria.
Fresh or canned is fine but canned pumpkin is actually more concentrated (and thus more beneficial) than the water-packed fresh version.
Warning: DO NOT give your dog canned pumpkin pie filling as it may contain Xylitol, which is deadly to dogs!
5 Easy Vegetarian and Vegan Pumpkin Recipes
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds We found a GREAT recipe from The Lemon Bowl that not only includes a “how-to roast” section but also some tips for making the best roasted pumpkin seeds, some suggested toppings, and how to store them to maintain freshness.
- Vegan Mac and cheese – Full disclosure: we haven’t tried this recipe by Dana at Minimalist Baker, but we are more than comfortable sharing recipes from this trusted resource. We’ve tried other recipes by Dana, and they’ve been consistently amazing and easy to make. We wanted to include this one because it looks great to take to a Thanksgiving potluck.
- Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte from Vegan Huggs – We like this recipe by Melissa Huggins at Vegan Huggs because you can make it with either traditional espresso or strong brewed coffee. She does note that the drink will taste more like a “latte” with espresso, however.
There’s also a link to a guide about which plant-milks go best in coffee.
- Pumpkin Sage Soup from Candice at the Edgy Veg. This hearty vegan pumpkin sage soup is sure to warm you up and fill you up on a cool fall night!
We hope this episode helped you learn more about pumpkins and given you some great recipe ideas!
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Thanks for listening!
Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa