We all want to indulge in comfort foods from time to time but you don't need to be unhealthy to enjoy slightly stodgier options. Things as soups, root vegetables and delicious casseroles are delicious and nutritious. Pumpkin is fantastic for all of these things, and more: take a look at the range of ways in which you can use it, below.
But first, let's look at the nutritional values of a pumpkin. In its raw state pumpkin is an extremely good source of vitamins A and C, essential for maintaining good eyesight and a healthy immune system, among other functions. It is also high in potassium, manganese, copper and one of the B vitamins, riboflavin. Not enough for you? Then consider the fact that pumpkin contains considerable amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, folate, vitamins E and B6, niacin, thiamin and pantothenic acid and is low in salt, cholesterol and saturated fat. Phew!
Of course, what you serve with pumpkin and how you cook it will influence its values, but as a nutritional springboard this winter, you can do far worse than this super-veg!
Chop the pumpkin roughly and add to a large pan of water (at least two litres). Add a selection of other fresh vegetables such as green beans, potatoes, leek, garlic and carrots. Season to taste and cook on a moderate heat until the vegetables have softened to your liking. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil.
For a treat or to tempt children, serve the soup in the empty pumpkin shell.
Boil some pumpkin as you would potatoes and mash when it is softened. Try it by itself, with olive oil, with mustard or even with Japanese wasabi. Season to taste and serve with snags, with grilled meat or with fish. A good accompaniment is also leafy green vegetables, such as cabbage, curly kale or spinach.
A traditional Hallowe'en and Bonfire Night treat in the UK and popular in the US, pumpkin pie is made by pulping the vegetable and sweetening it. Take a look at this recipe here.
For a quick and easy dinner, throw together a curry that features pumpkin as its main ingredient. Fry up some onions and spices (or use a ready-made curry paste), add some chicken stock fresh if possible and throw in the pumpkin around fifteen to twenty minutes before the end of the cooking time. Add additional vegetables as you wish spinach and spring onions go well. Serve with steamed rice, on mash or on a baked jacket potato.
Chop sweet potatoes and pumpkin into large chunks and roast in a hot oven with a little oil, some rock salt and plenty of ground pepper. Serve with meats and some fresh steamed or boiled vegetables, such as broccolini or zucchini.