Tuesday, November 22

SNACK TIME the pumpkin, a versatile vegetable

Traditional Thanksgiving feasting includes a variety of mouth-watering favorites, including roast turkey, stuffing, cranberries and especially pumpkin pie. Native to North America, the pumpkin has become a traditional sweet dessert, eaten during the fall and early winter, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US and Canada.

Pumpkins and other types of squash such as butternut and acorn, provide beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid, that acts as an anti-oxidant and converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is required by the body for vision and for maintaining healthy skin and mucus membranes.

Current research suggests that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene and phytonutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin (other forms of carotenoids) may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Most often used to make pie, pumpkin can also be added to pancakes, custard, ravioli, soups, souffl├ęs and more.

Even pumpkin seeds are popular. They are nutritious, tasty and make a great snack. Pumpkin seeds are great source of protein, minerals (such as iron and zinc), vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids (good for heart health). Check out this recipe for making pumpkin seeds at home. 

Enjoy this versatile vegetable, especially during the holiday season!

Contributed by Leslie K. Kay-Getzinger, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian/Clinical Nutritionist for Nutrition Management

(Image from Country Living)

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