Don’t look now, but tapering off are the ruby red colors of summer, including the fresh ripened tomatoes, watermelon, and strawberries so beloved at this time of year. As summer slowly sets, stepping in to steal the spotlight (say that five times fast), are the orange hues of fall that abound with healthy nutrients like pumpkin, squash varieties, yams, and sweet potatoes.
All of these are foods high in beta carotene (responsible for the hue of these fruits and veggies) which our body can convert into vitamin A, contributing to eye and skin health, among other benefits. These are also good sources of vitamins C, K, and E, as well as the minerals magnesium, potassium, and iron. For example, a half a cup of canned pumpkin has a mere 6.5 grams of carbohydrate, but 3.5 grams of fiber, a great combo for blood glucose regulation and digestive health.
Now that you know all the reasons to partake in these delicious delights (and loads of recipes are on the internet including some here at 2 your health), maybe you need a few other practical suggestions for incorporating them in your diet. Add canned pumpkin when you can’t get the real deal to smoothies, yogurt, pancake batter, or in place of shortening, butter, or oil in muffins, breads, and cakes. Sweet potatoes can be baked in place of regular fries while pumpkin and squash make great soup additions or entire meals in place of pasta, casseroles, breaded chicken, stir-fry, and even dessert.
Remember to store pumpkins in a cool, dry place if not immediately using. Choose smaller sizes when using for cooking (will be more tender and flavorful). Select pumpkins with their stems intact, free of blemishes and feel heavy or dense for their size. Regarding squash, a shiny skin indicates it may have been picked too soon, unless they are coated in wax, look for a dull skin.
The versatility and variety of options with these vegetables is endless and the benefits are bountiful, so get crackin’ and bring in the gold of harvest time.