Pumpkins

Autumn pumpkins in all their glory

There are so many pumpkins in the shops at the moment. They look beautiful in their Autumnal glow – but do we realise their wonderful nutritional benefits – they are definitely more than just a Halloween lantern

They are a great source of soluble fibre, and as they have high water content they are also low in calories. As they are low on the glycemic index they are a great vegetable for keeping balanced blood sugars and helping insulin regulation. I m going to post a delicious and easy recipe for pumpkin soup with walnuts and the end, but before I do I want to just give you an idea of its impressive nutritional value

Firstly, its a great source of the phyto nutrient beta – carotene which our body converts to Vitamin A. Just like carrots, the Vitamin A in pumpkins is good for our eyes, skin and also supports our immune system. This is just what we need as coughs, colds and flu are all around us!

It also contains a lot of vitamin C, which is also supportive of our Immune system, along with zinc, folate and vitamin K. It also has a huge amount of two phytonutrients , lutein and zeaxanthin which are supportive of eye health and are linked with reducing risks of cataracts and macular degeneration.

This combination of nutrients give it its’ anti inflammatory and antioxidant qualities making it a great choice for a winter vegetable. You can dice and roast it with a little olive oil seasoned with salt, pepper and some spicy chilli or paprika. Its also a great base for a soup. Remember that you can also roast and eat the seeds which also contain zinc and fibre, and are very tasty!

So if you ve carved your pumpkin, and are looking for a way to use up the flesh – why not give this a try

PUMPKIN SOUP WITH TOASTED SEEDS

Ingredients

  • 2 kg unpeeled weight pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 3 red onions cut into chunks
  • 4 large tomatoes quartered – you could use a can of tomatoes instead, but if you do, just add them after the pumpkin has roasted.
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • sea salt
  • 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
  • natural yogurt, to serve
  • For the Toasted Seeds
  • 100g pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • ½ tbsp soft brown sugar [see below for alternative]
  • 1 large sprig rosemary finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  • Peel and cut the pumpkin into chunks. Heat the oven to 200C. Divide the pumpkin, onions and tomatoes between 2 large roasting tins. Toss in the oil, maple syrup and a good sprinkling of sea salt. Roast for 45 mins or until the squash is slightly charred at the edges.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the seeds. This will make more than you need but they make a delicious snack and will keep in a sealed container for up to 1 week. Just mix all the ingredients together then spread out on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 20 mins then leave to cool.
  • Transfer the vegetables to a large saucepan. Add the stock, bring to the boil and stir well. When it has cooled a little, blend to a purée. This makes a thick and hearty soup but just add more stock if you prefer a thinner version. Taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls then top with a spoonful of yogurt, and some toasted seeds.

If you prefer to avoid the sugar you can sprinkle some Cajun spice or tamari sauce on the seeds before roasting.  This will give you a spicy or savoury version