Halloween may be over, but pumpkin season is not. It is now November, the season of Thanksgiving. Culturally, we tend to associate turkey with November and Thanksgiving. In fact, we often hear people refer to Thanksgiving as, ‘Turkey Day’. I am one of those people who attribute turkey to the Thanksgiving holiday. However, I also attribute pumpkin to Thanksgiving. In fact, I correlate pumpkin with all three holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
While pumpkin spice flavors tend to be over-utilized during the fall and winter, pumpkin itself tends to be limited to Jack-O’-Lanterns for Halloween, Thanksgiving decor on the front porch, or a canned good to bake into a pie for Christmas.
As a registered nurse and clinical expert, I know that pumpkin is a super-food rich in nutrients, including Beta-Carotene, which is a form of Vitamin A. Foods high in Vitamin A may help protect against certain forms of cancer. Here are some ideas for you and your family to maximize your utilization of the nutritional benefits of pumpkin through pumpkin season.
I realize Halloween is over, but I would be doing you a disservice if I did not teach you how to save and preserve your Halloween Jack-O’-Lantern. You can use this information to plan for next Halloween. After carving your Jack-O’-Lantern on Halloween, place an electric light such as a flickering LED or flashlight to prevent contamination of the edible flesh with candle smoke. After Halloween, rinse the pumpkin, including the interior, with some water. Slice the pumpkin into quarters and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it.
Jack-O’-Lantern varieties are edible and nutritious. However, consider choosing an heirloom variety. How about a ribbed type, such as Rouge Vif D' Etampes or a flat variety like Musquee De Provence? Some heirlooms are superior in flavor as well as nutrition compared to hybrids. Some hybrids have sacrificed flavor and nutrition in favor of longevity and mass production. Check your local farmer’s market to see which pumpkin varieties are available in your region. Better yet, plan and consider growing your own pumpkins next year! I grew Rouge Vif D' Etampes this year and yielded over twenty pumpkins off five vines!
As a registered nurse, I know the health advantage of fresh roasted pumpkin opposed to canned pumpkin is the sodium content. Most canned foods contain added salt. Roasting your own pumpkin puts you in control of the salt content. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day and an ideal goal of no more than 1,500 milligrams per day.
Be sure to visit my YouTube channel, The Nurse Farmer, in the coming weeks of November. I will be demonstrating how to prepare and roast a fresh pumpkin. I will also have a video demonstrating how to make home-made pumpkin soup. Thanks for following me!
The Nurse Farmer ™