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Pumpkin: A Healthy Seasonal Option

Pumpkin is a key ingredient in many holiday recipes. Did you know pumpkins are really a fruit, and the flowers are edible? They are 90 percent water and a good source of fiber. The bright orange color of pumpkin is a clear sign that it is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene, which is eventually converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta- carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and may protect against heart disease. Pumpkin is also a terrific source of potassium.

When it comes to pumpkin production, Illinois smashes the competition. About 90-95 percent of the processed pumpkins in the United States come from Illinois. Morton, Ill. is known as the pumpkin capital of the world. Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the U.S. is available in October. When it comes to the pumpkin market, Libby’s takes the cake…or in this case, the pie or parfait.  Approximately 5,000 acres are planted each year exclusively for Libby’s. Pumpkins can be boiled, steamed, baked, roasted and microwaved.

There is a difference between pumpkins you eat and ornamental pumpkins. Ornamental pumpkins possess decorative appeal. Bright orange, smooth flesh pumpkins are perfect for carving. A few varieties offer uniquely colored flesh or warty texture in an array of colors. Look for pumpkins labeled as “pie pumpkins” when purchasing pumpkins for consumption.

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts: 1 cup cooked

  • Calories: 49
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrate: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Potassium: 564 mg
  • Vitamin A: 2650 IU

This Pumpkin Parfait recipe is delicious! It is thick, creamy and light, and a perfect addition to your holiday and winter dessert menu.

Article provided by Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

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