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Pumpkin: A Healthy Seasonal Option

October 26, 2016 Leave a comment

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.

Top Five Holiday Super Foods

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Just because it’s the holidays, does not mean you’re limited to fat-laden and calorie-disaster foods. Here are some super stars to make your holiday healthy, at least healthier!

  1. Pumpkin: It’s just not the holidays without pumpkin! Pumpkin has a powerhouse of nutrients including heart healthy fiber and a healthy dose of Vitamin A. Toast the seeds for a crunchy snack or roast in a veggie dish. Go ahead and enjoy that small piece of pumpkin pie you have had your eye on. Pumpkin pie has fewer calories and fat than most of its pie mates. One slice has about 300 calories and 15 g fat as compared to a slice of pecan pie with 500 calories and 27 g fat.
  2. Turkey: Turkey is a lean mean protein machine- packed with folic acid, including half of your daily needs. It’s a notable source of zinc, potassium and Vitamin B- all known for keeping your heart and cholesterol in check, as well as cancer preventing and immune system boosting qualities. Stick with a 3-4 oz. portion (about the size of a deck of cards) of the breast and remove the skin to rid all the unhealthy saturated fat. A little bit of turkey goes a long way in filling you up. Enjoy the leftovers for your lunch the next day. Tip: Top turkey with sliced strawberries for a sandwich treat.
  3. Cranberries: Tis’ the season for these berry beauties. These red gems contain disease fighting antioxidants and plenty of fiber to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol. Stick with homemade vs. out of a can. The canned ones are full of added sugar, but when you make your own try to be careful with adding sugar- use just enough to cut the tartness. Tip: enjoy all year round on salads or as dried fruits mixed with nuts for a great snack.
  4. Cinnamon: Spice up your holidays with cinnamon. Known for its blood sugar lowering effect elevates this sweet spice to be even sweeter. Add to fruit and veggie dishes. Tip: the day of the potentially big meal, enjoy a bowl of warm oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon to curb your appetite for the food fest to come.
  5. Sweet Potatoes: I like to call these super potatoes and they really are super stars all year round, not exclusively during the holiday season. Bake or roast and skip the butter and marshmallow topping. With lots of fiber (when you enjoy with the skin), Vitamins A, C and potassium, this wonder veggie plays a role in the fight against cancer and aging. Naturally sweet, as its namesake suggests, you certainly don’t have to jazz it up with too much added sugar, if any, but add some cinnamon and nutmeg for a kick.

There are so many great holiday foods that won’t wreck your all-year-round efforts to be healthy. Happy holidays and may you and yours be blessed with a happy and healthy 2013!

Please share your healthy holiday suggestions.