This time of year they are everywhere. They are in patches, on porches, in huge piles at the grocery store, decorating tables, and so much more. We know that carving them is fun. We know that roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious. We know that pumpkin pie is even more delicious, but do we know what else we should be doing with these strange looking orange gourd-like squash? Do we know why we shouldn’t let these seasonally abundant symbols of Fall and Americana go to waste? The answer is simple: pumpkins are great for us inside and out.
Pumpkins of all sizes are packed with vitamins and carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of many forms of cancer, lower rates of heart disease and macular degeneration, and boost immunity. They also boast B vitamins, niacin, ribolflavin, ascorbic acid, and vitamins A and C. Even the pumpkin’s relatively unassuming looking seeds are loaded with vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, along with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The seeds can be used roasted, raw, ground, or whole in salads, tossed into cereals, bread mixes, or added to veggie burgers. The meat of the pumpkin is actually quite easy to cook with and with a little creativity can create a delicious and nutritious appetizer, soup, entrée, snack, or dessert. The following is an amazing recipe recommended by one of my favorite chefs, Isa Moskowitz (who resides here in Portland):
Pumpkin, Banana, and Chickpea Curry
Large fry pan
Large pot with lid
1 tablespoon hot curry paste (or 2 if you are hardcore)
Stir in the chopped cilantro or parsley, and sprinkle the pine nuts over the top.
The nutritional value of pumpkin is not limited to your diet. It is also an excellent way to boost the health and radiance of your skin when used topically. When used as an ingredient in skin care products, pumpkin has benefits for all skin types. This is especially true if your skin is damaged from environmental factors, such as overexposure to the sun. It is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help repair damage from free radicals and vitamin A, which can soothe and soften your skin. Pumpkin also contains natural enzymes that help to dissolve dry skin cells, acting as an effective exfoliant. Pumpkin is also very effective in regulating the sebum production of your skin, so it is great for oily or acne-prone skin, and it aides in balancing dry skin.
One such product is a unique treatment masque featured at The Dragontree from the organic skin care brand, LIVIA. The Pumpkin Pro-Enzyme Masque is 10% glycolic and enzymatic, which means it helps to improve the texture of your skin. The active nature of the masque allows you to achieve that ‘spa facial tingle’ at home. The main key ingredient is organic pumpkin, but it also includes many seasonally appropriate and beneficial ingredients such as sugar maple and orange extracts and cinnamon bark, nutmeg, and ginger root powders.
So this year be sure to treat the pumpkin with the respect it really deserves. No more just carving, decorating, and wasting. It’s time to put all of the yummy healthy goodness the pumpkin offers to work for you.
– Dominee Cagle, Spa Director PDX