PUMPKIN FACTS

PUMPKINS are 90% water and is considered a fruit. Their brilliant orange coloring comes from its ample supply of beta-carotene, which is vitamin A in the body. It’s considered a superfood for eye health.

They contain two important antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that are thought to help prevent cataracts and slow the development of macular degeneration.

 The large shot of vitamin A this fruit provides helps your body fight off infections viruses and infectious diseases.

Pumpkin oil, which I drizzle over everything, even helps fight various bacterial and fungal infections and is packed with nearly 20 percent of the recommended amount of daily vitamin C. Pumpkins are also rich in fiber and as we know fiber is necessary for colon health. Pumpkins also help lower blood pressure so is considered heart-healthy food.

There are so many ways to enjoy our pumpkins other than decorating. I’m currently working on brain and heart-healthy recipes using pumpkin from ravioli to beauty products!

PUMPKIN APPLE SOUP

SERVES 6-8

 

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion peeled and sliced

4 scallions chopped in pieces

1 tablespoon dry sherry

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 medium green apple peeled, seeded and chopped into chunks. Add two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice over apples, set aside

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 cayenne pepper

1-20 ounce can organic puree pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling

1-quart vegetable stock or chicken stock

GARNISH

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds or chopped walnuts (recipe below)

6 tablespoons walnut oil

2 scallions sliced thin

1 jalapeno, sliced thin

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

INSTRUCTIONS

In a soup pot on medium-high add the olive oil, heat for 1 minute. Add onion and scallions, saute 8 to 10 minutes until the onions start to caramelize. Add sherry, apples, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, and mix. Add pumpkin puree, vegetable or chicken stock. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.

Pour the soup into a blender and blend for 1 minute or until blended completely. If the soup is too thick add more stock ½ cup at a time. You want the soup creamy smooth and not too thick. Pour back into the soup pot and heat for 5 minutes on low heat until it starts to bubble.

Turn off the heat and ladle into heated soup bowls, (I rinse the bowls in hot water before I put the hot soup in to take the chill off the bowl) or I place the bowls in the oven for 10 minutes at 200F.

Use oven mitts to remove the bowls.

GARNISH

Per serving, Add a dollop, (1 teaspoon soup cream) then

sprinkle pumpkin seeds or walnuts, 2 teaspoons of walnut oil, some scallions, 3 slices of jalapeno, and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Nuts and seeds including pumpkin seeds are rich in certain plant-based chemical call phytosterols that have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol”.  (reference Flickr.jaxzin)

Phytosterols are a group of naturally occurring compounds found in plant cell membranes. They are similar to your body’s cholesterol.

They compete with cholesterol on absorption in your digestive system. Now researchers suggest that one phytosterol called stigmasterol may help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. It appears to inhibit the formation of the beta-amyloid protein that builds up in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s. Research is still preliminary. It can help protect our brains as well as the heart

INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cup pumpkin seeds

½ teaspoons garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon chili

½ teaspoon ground cumin

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat 350 F

Scrape out the seeds of your pumpkin and make sure you remove any unwanted pumpkin rinds and slimy threads. Soak and clean seeds in a bowl of cool water for an hour then drain.

Fill a small pot with water and a ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil add seeds and boil gently for 10 to 12 minutes.

Pour the seeds on paper towels and pat dry. Place clean and dried seeds aside in a bowl add olive oil and toss.

In a small bowl whisk garlic and onion powder, salt, cayenne pepper, chili, and cumin. Add to seeds and toss making sure to coat the seeds.

Spread the seeds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, checking every ten minutes to make sure they are not burning.  Shake the baking sheet halfway through roasting. Keep an eye on the seeds to avoid burning them. Remove from oven and cool.

Enjoy pumpkin seeds as a snack, tossed in salads, in cereal, on yogurt, and in smoothies!

THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING, GIVE THE GIFT OF HEALTH, “FOOD FOR THOUGHT”

A portion of the proceeds go to the “Women’s Alzheimers Movement”

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