As the leaves of the trees turn beautiful shades of red and golden brown and jack-o-lanterns begin lining the porch, there is no denying that autumn is in full swing. The pumpkin has always been an icon of fall and the upcoming holidays, but little is known about the wide range of health benefits found in this vitamin-packed fruit.
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Studies show that pumpkins contribute significantly to the uptake of provitamin A and lutein, a carotenoid with special physiological functions. Studies also show that pumpkin has substantial medicinal properties due to the presence of unique natural edible substances. It is known to contain several phyto-constituents belonging to the categories of alkaloids, flavonoids, and palmitic, oleic and linoleic acids. Various important medicinal properties including anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and others have also been well documented.
All wrapped up
This humble backyard fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals and vital antioxidants. The high amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E as well as zinc, magnesium and potassium help in achieving healthy and glowing skin. What’s more, pumpkins are very low in calories so this is one less thing to worry about during the holiday season.Enjoy one of our favorite recipes that can be made with fresh or canned pumpkin and share with your family and friends. They are very moist, need no butter or cream cheese to eat them with, freeze well and best of all are healthy.
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Chia Muffins Recipe
Makes 14 Servings – Serving Size: 1 muffin each
- 1 tablespoon Chia Seed
- ½ cup Orange Juice
- 1 ½ cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Nutmeg
- 2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 15 oz. Canned Pumpkin
- ¼ cup Canola Oil
- 2 tablespoon Agave Nectar
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla
- ¾ cup Chopped Walnuts – toasted
- 1 cup firm pack Fresh Apple – grated (5 ½ ounces by weight) (grate apple on large hole side of box grater)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine chia seed with orange juice and let sit 15 minutes to swell chia seed. Then combine next five dry ingredients and mix with wire whisk. In separate bowl combine pumpkin, canola oil, agave nectar, vanilla, walnuts and orange juice with chia seed. Mix these ingredients and then fold into the dry ingredients. Fold in fresh grated apple. Scoop into paper or silicone cups in muffin tins, and bake for 38-40 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.
So the next time you are carving a pumpkin, do not throw out the pulp or the seeds—instead cook them in any form you like and enjoy the days of autumn the natural way.
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Precious Lopez contributed to this column.