Pumpkins may not be one of my favorite winter squashes but they are popular and plentiful at this time of year. They are also chock full of the FoodTrient carotenoids, which our bodies turn into vitamin A. These nutrients are really good for your skin, hair, eyes, and heart. They also help prevent cancer and support the immune system. Winter squash is also a good source of the FoodTrient fiber, which helps to control the appetite and is good for the digestive tract. So I’m exploring delicious ways to enjoy many interesting fall fruits off the vine: pumpkins, kabocha squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, hubbard squash, and turban squash.
Here are several ways to incorporate pumpkins and other squashes into your diet:
- For a mid-morning snack, I slice pumpkin spice bread, toast the slices, and spread them with apple butter or cream cheese.
- For lunch or dinner, you can enjoy a moringa-squash soup.. The bright green, grassy moringa leaves lend a snappiness to the earthy, mild flavor of kabocha squash. You can also find this soup with a chicken-stock base and veggies like okra and eggplant in my cookbook and on FoodTrients.com with my Moringa Vegetable Soup recipe. In addition to carotenoids and fiber, it contains a host of other powerful FoodTrients, including anthocyanins, lycopene, oleocantha, potassium, quercetin, sulfur compounds, and vitamin C.
If you prefer to make a pure squash soup, steam or boil butternut squash (without the rind or seeds) and blend with salt, a bit of balsamic vinegar or soy sauce, and some chicken or vegetable stock (to thin it out). A spoonful or two of yogurt smoothies the tastes of this soup nicely. Top with croutons or toasted pumpkin seeds. For a spicier dish, stir in a sprinkling of cayenne pepper and/or paprika.
- For dinner, stir-fry one-inch cubes of acorn squash, chopped kale, garlic, onions, and freshly grated ginger—you can add string beans and scallions, too—in coconut oil for 7–10 minutes, or until crisp-tender. To make the sauce, mix oyster sauce and cornstarch and add it to the stir-fry near the end of cooking. This dish is wonderful topped with seared beef or fried tofu and served over brown rice.
- For a carotenoid-rich dessert, use cubes of pumpkin or almost any winter squash without its seeds or rind. I boil the cubes in a mixture of equal parts sugar and water (a simple syrup, really) until tender, 10–15 minutes. Then I serve it with butter and maybe a sprinkling of cinnamon.
There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the fruits of the fall, even for a non-pumpkin lover like me!
GRACE O BIO
Combining her passion for food and a commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle, Grace O has created FoodTrients®, a unique program for optimizing wellness. Grace O is a fusion chef with a mission: to cook up recipes for a long and joyful life that are built on a foundation of anti-aging science and her 15 years in the health care industry. Visit FoodTrients.com to learn more.