If you’re carving a pumpkin today don’t throw away the middle. Pumpkin is an excellent source of many nutrients.
These include antioxidant betacarotene, responsible for its bright orange colour, which converts to vitamin A to support good eyesight. This along with vitamin C promotes healthy glowing skin and a strong immune system. Pumpkin has one of the highest levels of beta-cryptoxanthin, another pro vitamin A carotenoid which can help reduce inflammation and protect the joints. It is also one of the best fruit/vegetable sources of potassium, important for heart and muscle health and to aid post workout recovery. It contains magnesium required for bone, teeth, muscle and heart health and good levels of fibre for a healthy gut. If you are expecting a baby these nutritional benefits are equally important for your developing baby.
It has many culinary uses and is delicious in soups, tagines, curries, pumpkin pies and ravioli. If you have little ones pureed pumpkin makes a great weaning food – its natural sweetness makes it a firm favourite with most babies and if you read Helen Coopers beautifully illustrated book Pumpkin Soup to your children they will be fans for life. Adapt this Thai inspired puree by using pumpkin in place of butternut squash or try this warming autumnal roasted pumpkin soup from Jamie Oliver (both delicious and suitable for the whole family to enjoy).
The seeds are an even richer nutritional store with high levels of magnesium, zinc (for skin, immune system and fertility health), protein and essential fatty acids. Roast and scatter over salads and vegetables. They are a good source of tryptophan which the body converts to serotonin and melatonin, which can encourage a restful night’s sleep – even when things going bump in the night!
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at www.nomnomskincare.com