The pumpkin is related to the melon, courgette and cucumber, which means that it is low in calories and ideal for those who are conscious of a healthy diet. This large, often round or oval fruit has hard skin and yellow or orange flesh, depending on the variety. There are many kinds of pumpkins, from tiny ones to jumbo varieties and in bright yellow, orange or green.
The large, pale orange winter pumpkin with its beautiful orange flesh is one of the most well-known varieties. This pumpkin is so large it is often sold in pieces. Also quite popular are butternut squash, with pale yellow skin and orange flesh, and the bright orange or green Hokkaido pumpkin with its orange flesh. Spaghetti squash is less common, but definitely worth a try. It is an oval pumpkin with light yellow skin and stringy flesh that is reminiscent of spaghetti.
Pumpkins contain a lot of dietary fibre, which benefits the bowel movements and assists in absorbing fatty acids, ideal for meals that are geared towards improving heart health. They are also crammed with beta carotene, which is good for the skin and eyes.
In autumn and winter, pumpkins are everywhere in the shops. You can harvest them in your own garden from late July, depending on when they were planted. Butternut squash can be harvested almost all year round.
How to choose?
You can recognise a fresh pumpkin by its stem. A green, hairy stem indicates that the pumpkin was harvested recently. A hard, dried stem shows you that the pumpkin was harvested a while ago. This is not necessarily a problem if the pumpkin is not showing any soft or brown spots.
How to prepare?
Young and recently-harvested pumpkins do not need to be peeled, as the cooking softens the skin sufficiently. The Hokkaido pumpkin is also cooked with the skin if harvested recently. Later in the season, the skin becomes tougher and should be removed before preparation. The easiest way is to cut the pumpkin into sections first. Halve the pumpkin, use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and strings, cut into sections and then peel off the skin. Then the flesh can be cut into pieces, wedges or cubes as required.
Pumpkins are very versatile. They have a mild, sweet flavour that is also very appealing to children. Pumpkins can be used in many ways: in savoury pies, Indian curries or soup.
- Sprinkle some spices such as ground coriander, cinnamon and cumin on some pumpkin wedges, add some Flora and grill in the oven.
- Pumpkin also tastes great with tomato in a risotto.
- Fry some pumpkin cubes with sweet peppers and garlic in some Becel cooking liquid and mix the fried vegetables with some fresh goat cheese or low-fat feta cheese and some couscous or quinoa.
- Pumpkin is also delicious in a tagine with chicken, lemon and apricots. This Moroccan stew is named after the type of earthenware pot with a pointed lid used to cook these delightful dishes.
- Sautéing: 10 to 12 minutes, depending on size;
- Stir-frying: 5 to 10 minutes;
- Roasting: approx. 30 minutes at 220 °C (turn pieces once during roasting).
How to store?
Pumpkins can be stored for a long time. They should be kept in a dry, cool place (12 to 15 °C). As for cucumbers and courgettes, the temperature of the room should not fall below 8 °C. Pumpkins can be kept from six weeks up to several months until spring. They do need to be turned regularly to prevent the areas in contact with the surface going soft.
You need about 250 g of pumpkin per person for optimal nutritional value.
- 15 kcal,
- 1 g protein,
- 0.2 g fat,
- 2 g carbohydrate, and
- 1 g dietary fibre.
If you’re looking for tasty recipes that have your heart health in mind, be sure to take a look at Flora’s selection of healthy recipes.