It’s ‘the Great Pumpkin’ Season!

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Pumpkins symbolize Fall, and remind us of the oncoming Fall festivities. For many children that means the opening of local pumpkin patches and the search for ‘The Great Pumpkin! For others, it may be the change in the weather, and the leaves changing color. I know for Holly, the official sign of the beginning of fall starts when the pumpkin spiced lattes are reintroduced in her local coffee shop. So while sipping on her first freshly made pumpkin spiced latte, Holly wondered to herself, “what kind of benefits do pumpkins really have?” This was after uncovering that one of her favorite PSL’s was really the Pumpkin ‘spiked’ Latte made from unnatural ingredients that could barely be pronounced. Perhaps because pumpkins are historically symbolic, think jack o lanterns, Cinderella’s carriage, the Great Pumpkin; when we think ‘pumpkins’, we tend not to initially think of their nutritional value. For our forefathers, pumpkins served as a mainstay food, and they couldn’t afford not to eat them. The early American Indians introduced them to the colonists, teaching them to growth them with corn and beans. Soon, the settlers began adapting them in multiple different recipes. Chopped pumpkins were baked into a bean and corn succotash, or as a sweet food, stuffed and baked with cream and spices. Pumpkins were also preserved by baking them into strips. And then there was Pumpkin ale, discovered by the colonists, made it easy to ferment into alcohol. The deep orange color of pumpkins demonstrate its rich source of carotenoids, which is an antioxidant, preventing cancer and scavenging up the constant production of free radicals in our body. Pumpkin fruit has been studied and known to have some blood sugar lowering effects. In animals that were shown to be mildly diabetic, pumpkins showed properties of reducing blood sugars similar to the anti-diabetic medication tolbutemide. There are many components in pumpkins that are still being studied to determine how many of them are contributing to its anti-diabetic effect. Pumpkin seeds are known to have anti-carcinogenic effects as well. The same group of researchers also found pumpkin seed extract could reduce melanoma growth. In addition, pumpkin seeds have some medicinal qualities including anti-inflammatory benefits. In animal studies, the seeds were matched against the effects of the medication indomethacin, an anti-inflammatory medication (similar effects as Motrin and Aleve). The pumpkin seeds were shown to reduce arthritis symptoms in close to the same level as indomethacin. So while you’re debating whether or not to add more pumpkin to your fall dishes, just do it! Pumpkin ale, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spiced latte, should all be part of your recipe repertoire. Just make sure you’re using pumpkin in its truest form. Here are some of Holly’s pumpkin recipes you can easily make from home:

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