Pumpkins Aren't Just For Jack-O-Lanterns

Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkins have become so strongly affiliated with Halloween that many people forget they have been a food staple for thousands of years. Both children and adults have decorated pumpkins for Halloween for many years, often without realizing the nutritional benefits they have to offer. The idea is catching on, however, as more and more people are discovering pumpkin flavored foods.

Pumpkin-flavored cookies, cakes, coffees and breads seem to have taken over the fast food industry. With all of the new pumpkin based flavorings on the market, it is important to remember that nothing can take the place of traditional, down home recipes made from scratch.

Pumpkins are easy to prepare and store. The easiest way to cook pumpkin is to wash it, core it and remove the insides. Place it on a flat pan and place in the oven and bake at a low temperature until soft. Cut into slices and chunk the fruit. Mash until smooth and measure into 2 and 4 cup servings. Place in bags and freeze. You can add pumpkin pie spice and other seasonings before you freeze it or add them as you are ready to use the pumpkin in recipes.

While most people will only say that the pumpkin tastes good, others know how nutritious it really is. Pumpkins have an abundance of beta carotene and Vitamin A. They also contain lutein and other phytochemicals that are nutritionally important to good health. Pumpkins are primarily considered a "fall" food but if adequately prepared and stored properly can be used all year long in a variety of recipes. The pumpkin's orange color can add flair to any plate while the nutrition it offers makes it an important addition to any diet.


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