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The Great Pumpkin

The Great Pumpkin

It was quite a disturbing incident for such a small, quiet town. Everybody knew everybody in Danville. To think that my great pumpkin had been stolen was incomprehensible!

I was only ten years old. My dad had grown the biggest pumpkin I had ever seen. It weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of forty pounds. Together we had carved the scariest, most evil looking jack-o-lantern you could imagine. It glowed from our front porch on Halloween night.

At some point during the treating festivities, a trick was played and my forty-pound scariest, most evil looking jack-o-lantern, disappeared. Mom called the police, but since we didn’t have enough sound evidence for a description—of the pumpkin (which ended up as purée)—or the perpetrators (we never saw them), nothing could be done. I was devastated.

What a laugh the police department must have had that night. My family has always been one to provide entertainment. And on that note…

These days, I eat canned pumpkin and leave the carving to other brave souls. This is the perfect time to review all the good stuff about pumpkin and offer ideas to include it in your diet.

Pumpkins and their seeds rank high on the nutrition scale. Besides looking very festive, the pumpkin is full of fiber. Fiber helps us stay full longer, aids in healthy digestion and keeps us humming. A small amount of pure, canned pumpkin helps doggy digestion too.

Pumpkins contain potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B-complex, C and E. Health benefits include a boost to the immune system and reduced inflammation. Inflammation in the body can lead to a variety of chronic conditions including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and type-2 diabetes.

The carotenoids, which give pumpkins their bright orange color, offer protection from certain cancers and heart disease. These compounds also lower the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. The alpha-carotene component may slow the aging process. Now we’re talking.

Pumpkin seeds contain zinc and vitamin E. Interesting tidbit: when roasting these at home, do not do so for longer than 20 minutes, as this causes an undesirable change in the seed fats.

Ways to get more pumpkin in your diet: add pumpkin purée to soup, pasta sauce, stew or chili to increase the nutritional value (it will not significantly alter the flavor); use it in place of oil in a bread or muffin recipe; add some to a bowl of oatmeal or plain Greek yogurt; try it in your hummus recipe.

I like to add it to my protein shake. Pour it into a fancy glass, sprinkle some nutmeg on top and it may even pass for eggnog.

Gobbly Good Protein Shake
9 oz. almond milk
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 T. canned pumpkin
½ tsp. cinnamon
3-4 ice cubes

Add ingredients to blender and mix until smooth. Note: When choosing canned pumpkin purée, be sure that the only ingredient is pumpkin. Some canned pie fillings contain sugar.

Linus [writing to the Great Pumpkin]: “You must get discouraged because more people believe in Santa Claus than you. Well, let’s face it; Santa Claus has had more publicity, but being #2, perhaps you try harder.”

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