Pumpkin season has finally arrived and with it comes an array of pumpkin goodies. Pumpkin soup, beer, pie, latte, bread… the list goes on and on. And as long as you aren't over indulging in the sweet pumpkin treats, there are a lot of health benefits that this bright orange gourd brings to the table.
1. Mood Enhancement
Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by the body to create serotonin, a neurotransmitter or brain chemical that gives us the feeling of being happy.
Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A, which plays a role in vision. Having too little of vitamin A rich foods in the diet can lead to a condition known as “night blindness,” in which they eye is unable to adequately see in low or no light. In addition to vitamin A, pumpkin contains antioxidants that help protect the eye from damage caused by free radicals.
The same antioxidants that help protect your eyes also help protect your skin from age enhancing free radicals. The carotenoids or pigments found in pumpkins also gives your skin a healthy and beautiful appearance, according to research.
5. Immune System Support
Rich in vitamin A & C, pumpkin can offer a boost to your immune system as we begin to enter cold & flu season. Vitamin A also helps maintain optimal cell function in your airways, gut and urinary tract. Basically, where bugs may try to get in, vitamin A is there to help your body defend itself.
6. Heart Protection
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of plant sterols and help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” by inhibiting cholesterol absorption.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- 1 pie or sugar baby pumpkin (approximately 4 lbs)
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion (diced)
- 2 garlic cloves (sliced)
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme (finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Cut pumpkin in half & remove seeds (place to the side). Apply 1 tablespoon olive oil to the flesh and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Bake pumpkin (cut side down) for 1 to 1.25 hours or until flesh is soft & easily pierced with a fork. Remove pumpkin & allow to cool about 20 minutes.
- Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh & place in a bowl. Set this to the side for later use.
- Heat remaining olive oil in a pan. Saute' onion for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes longer or until softened.
- Add chicken broth, water, thyme, and pumpkin. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Allow mixture to simmer approximately 10 minutes.
- Using a blender, puree the soup in small batches. To avoid having the blender lid pop off, remove the small section from the center of the lid and cover with a towel while blending.
- Return soup to saucepan and add cream. Blend well, adding salt & pepper to taste.
What to do with those pumpkin seeds? Here is a list of different recipes to try.