Pumpkin is technically a fruit that belongs to the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers.
The pumpkin plant is actually a vine that has large, dark green leaves, orange bell shaped flowers, and small prickly hairs on the stems and leaves. It also has separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The flowers have short lives as they open only for a single day. The male blossoms have pollen that is transferred to the female flowers by bees. Only pollinated female blossoms develop into pumpkins. Therefore, few of the pumpkin flowers actually produce a pumpkin.
Most pumpkin fruits are orange, but some are white, yellow, or other colors. It has a hard outer shell and a coarse stringy pulp inside with the seeds. The mature pumpkin fruit usually weighs 15 to 30 pounds but it can be as big as but some giants may weigh over 800 pounds.
Pumpkin plants have to have adequate spacing when being planted in order for them to grow properly. If plants are too close, the fruit size can be affected. Under extreme stress, tight spacing may eliminate the crop entirely.
Pumpkins have a history going back almost 9000 years. They are said to have originated in Central America. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico dating back to 7000 to 5500 B.C. It was known as Pepon in ancient Greece which means large melons. From there, it became pompon in France. The British changed it to Pumpion and finally was called Pumpkin by the early American settlers. References to pumpkins date back many centuries.
Food Value Chart
The nutritional value of a cup of boiled and unsalted pumpkin is
- Calories 49
- Protein 2 grams
- Carbohydrate 12 grams
- Dietary Fiber 3 grams
- Calcium 37 mg
- Iron 1.4 mg
- Magnesium 22 mg
- Potassium 564 mg
- Zinc 1 mg
- Selenium .50 mg
- Vitamin C 12 mg
- Niacin 1 mg
- Folate 21 mcg
- Vitamin A 2650 IU
- Vitamin E 3 mg
Pumpkins are a tasty source of vitamins and minerals, particularly beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. The beta carotene is an excellent antioxidant which is converted to Vitamin A in the body . Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protect against heart disease. It also helps against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.
It also helps prevent arterosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which can lead to strokes and/or heart attacks.
- Pumpkin is an extremely versatile fruit that can be used to make soups, pies and breads. It can be boiled, fried, baked, or roasted. They can be served as a main course,deserts or side dishes.
- Pumpkin seeds can be roasted as a snack.
- Add pumpkin seeds to healthy sautéed vegetables.
- Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of mixed green salads.
- Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.
- Pumpkins are used for feed for animals.
- Native Americans used flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats
- Pumpkin seeds are sweet and nutty with a chewy texture,
- Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc and unsaturated fatty acids which are effective help for prostate ailments.
It also helps in fighting arthritis.
- Research has shown that the seeds have anti inflammatory properties
- The seeds also provide a wide range of traditional nutrients such as magnesium, manganese and phosphorous, iron, copper and protein
- Phytosterols in the pumpkin seeds lower Cholesterol
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Pumpkin Seed Oil
One can make about one litre oil from around 2.5 kgs of dried pumpkin seeds. The oil produced is almost black in colour and has Vitamin A and E, Zinc and Omega 3 and Omega 6 that are also known as essential fatty acids.
How to Make your own Roasted seeds
Pumpkin, Vegetable oil, Salt , Pepper, General herbs, Grease paper/ cookie sheet
Remove the seeds from the pumpkin flesh and strings. Wash them well (usually putting then in a big bowl of water and rubbing them between your hands is a fast way to clean them) and dry them.Spread the seeds evenly over a cookie sheet and lightly baste the seeds with melted butter or vegetable oil. Place them in oven at 190 degree for about 30 -40 minutes till slightly brown. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot or cold.
Did You Know
- Pumpkins grow all over the world except Antarctica.
- That the "pumpkin capital" of the world is Morton, Illinois
- The early Irish settlers brought this tradition of pumpkin carving to America
- That Pumpkin flowers are also edible.
- The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.
 [Path2HealthyLiving.com]