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Friday, 26 October 2012

The Pumpkin Secret


With Hallowe'en just around the corner and pumpkins for sale at every farm stand and market, pumpkin recipes are a big subject of discussion on line right now.  

Many folks are asking "Why would I cook pumpkin? Butternut squash (and other winter squashes) are so much more flavourful!"

I thought I'd seize the opportunity to offer an answer to that question, and to share with you my little pumpkin secret.

It's true.  Pumpkins - especially the large ones sold for use as Jack-o-Lanterns - can taste quite bland.  

So, why bother with them?

Because there's big difference in price between pumpkin and other winter squashes.  

In my area right now, butternut squash costs $0.99 to $1.29 per pound, while pumpkins can be purchased for $0.19 to $0.38 per pound.  

With so many people struggling to get by in these tough economic times, that difference in price is not to be taken lightly.   

While it may not bring as much flavour to the party, pumpkin carries with it the same nutritional value as butternut squash (or other winter squashes).  

For those of you who want to know these things, here are the nutrients contained in a single cup of mashed pumpkin.  (The rest of you can scroll down the page to find the promised pumpkin secret.)

Calorie Information
Amounts Per Selected Serving
%DV
Calories
49.0
(205 kJ)
2%
  From Carbohydrate
43.3
(181 kJ)
  From Fat
1.4
(5.9 kJ)
  From Protein
4.3
(18.0 kJ)
  From Alcohol
0.0
(0.0 kJ)

Vitamins
Amounts Per Selected Serving
%DV
Vitamin A
12231
IU
245%
Vitamin C
11.5
mg
19%
Vitamin D
~
~
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)
2.0
mg
10%
Vitamin K
2.0
mcg
2%
Thiamin
0.1
mg
5%
Riboflavin
0.2
mg
11%
Niacin
1.0
mg
5%
Vitamin B6
0.1
mg
5%
Folate
22.0
mcg
6%
Vitamin B12
0.0
mcg
0%
Pantothenic Acid
0.5
mg
5%
Choline
15.2
mg
Betaine
~

Minerals
Amounts Per Selected Serving
%DV
Calcium
36.7
mg
4%
Iron
1.4
mg
8%
Magnesium
22.0
mg
6%
Phosphorus
73.5
mg
7%
Potassium
564
mg
16%
Sodium
2.5
mg
0%
Zinc
0.6
mg
4%
Copper
0.2
mg
11%
Manganese
0.2
mg
11%
Selenium
0.5
mcg
1%
Fluoride
~

When you're struggling to pay for food, it becomes very important that everything you serve provides the best possible nutritional value.  So, despite the somewhat bland flavour, it's high nutrient content and low price make pumpkin a desirable recipe ingredient.  

The question becomes "How do we best use it?"

The secret?  

Hide it.  

Use it as a vehicle to carry other big flavours, and to add moisture and texture to your dish.

Begin by roasting or steaming your pumpkin and then pureeing it in a blender or food processor.  

Once you have made your puree, substitute 1-1/3 cups pumpkin puree for 1 cup of other liquid called for in a recipe.  

You'll probably have to increase the amount of seasoning in your dish, but you can use this substitution in baked goods, sauces, soups, stews... You get the idea.  

Used this way, pumpkin puree can make everything from a moist, delicious chocolate cake to a creamy, comforting macaroni and cheese.  It can help to stretch other, more expensive, ingredients over a larger number of servings, and you can take satisfaction from the fact that it makes your dish more healthful too.

So, that's it:  The pumpkin secret.  

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4 comments:

Walking on Sunshine said...

Great information. I have never tried to roast a pumpkin but my hubby really wants to, maybe next year! Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday!

Marlys-thisandthat said...

I have never thought of using it instead of liquid in a recipe... I will have to try it. I do have a pumpkin that I should roast soon... Thanks for info and for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday.

The 21st Century Housewife© said...

Thank you for sharing this information and the secret! I knew pumpkin was good for you but I didn't know it was that good for you!! Great advice on hiding it too :)

Aunt B said...

Thanks for stopping by to check out the post April. I'm glad you like it. :)