Come Navarathri and the whole country ( well almost ) seems to be fasting on some kind of food or other and the most eaten vegetable is potatoes, sweet potatoes and green plantain , all very good but imagine eating them in various forms every day in all dishes from chips, parathas, cutlets, patties all using mostly these vegetables...Not only do they cause some stomach problems later on but also not good for weight management and most of those who fast or go on Vrat are usually the middle aged or seniors who suffer invariably from some kind of weight issue , diabetic or are having hyper tension.
Try to include pumpkins in many dishes and rely less on potatoes during these days, not only are these great choices but also good for weight management.
The nutritional values of both varieties of pumpkins, white or yellow is unbelievable.
Pumpkin fruit is one of the widely grown vegetables incredibly rich in vital antioxidants, and vitamins. Rich in vitamin A, and flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, xanthin, and has carotenes in abundance.
It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 100 g fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. The vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dietitians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
The fruit is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
I have given a recipe for pumpkin kheer which is utterly delicious and you can make it with either powdered jaggery or sugar. I used jaggery as it only increases the values too being iron rich.
2 cups peeled chopped yellow pumpkins
1 cup thick milk
1 tsp ghee
1 tbsp cashew nuts and raisins
A pinch of cardamom powder
3-4 tbsp powdered light jaggery / or sugar
Either grate the pumpkin or chop them to smaller cubes .
Cook them till soft.
If you are using cubed pumpkin instead off grating them then puree it in a blender.
In a pan add the ghee, if using the grated pumpkin , sautee in the ghee , add some milk and let it cook till soft.
Add the powdered jaggery/ sugar and the saffron strands after soaking in warm milk, keep flame on very low till the kheer thickens. If using cooked pumpkin cubes, after blending them, add the puree to the ghee, let it cook for few minutes , then proceed as mentioned above.
Add rest of the milk after the kheer thickens well.
Add in the cardamom powder, toasted cashew-nuts and raisins.
Serve warm or chilled.
To make it eve more creamy and yummy ( but high calorie! )
add condensed milk, or grated paneer to cook with the pumpkin jaggery /sugar mixture.
Or add grated mava.
Top with toasted nuts.
Lip smacking healthy kheer is ready.
More about Pumpkin goodness
The seeds from pumpkins indeed are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health.
The seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins.
For instance, 100 g of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 g of protein, 110% RDA of iron, 4987 mg of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), zinc (71%) etc., but no cholesterol.
The seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to GABA in the brain.
Pumpkin can be used in variety of delicious recipes either baked, stew- fried; however, it is eaten best after steam-cooking in order to get maximum nutrients.
The fruit is used in the preparations of pies, pancakes, custard, ravioli.
Roasted Pumpkin seeds (Pepita) can be eaten as snacks.