Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall In Love with Pumpkin

Jack-O’lanterns are the symbol of Halloween, but don’t overlook pumpkins as a source of nutrition. Pumpkins are full of fiber and low in calorie. The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that it is loaded with an antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. Thus, beta-carotene plays many important functions in overall health. So don’t just buy canned pumpkin for pie, keep it in the pantry to whip up some of the quick, homemade recipes listed below: pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin soup!

 What are the Health Benefits?

-Vitamin A: helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal muscle and soft tissue, and mucus membranes. Known as retinol for producing pigments in the retina, thus, promoting good vision.

-Fiber: normalizes bowel movements, helps maintain bowel health, lowers cholesterol levels, and helps control blood sugar levels, aids in achieving healthy weight

Recipe: Pumpkin Ravioli          Serves 6           Serving size: 4 ravioli


            1 cup canned pumpkin

            1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

            ¼ teaspoon salt

            1/8 teaspoon black pepper

            6 wonton wrappers

            1 teaspoon salt

            ½ cup chicken broth

            1 ½  tablespoons unsalted butter

            Chopped parsley


            Combine pumpkin, Parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Spoon about 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into center of each wonton wrapper. Moisten edges of dough with water; bring 2 opposite sides together to form a triangle, pinching edges to seal. Place ravioli into large saucepan of boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt; cook 7 minutes and drain in a colander. Place chicken broth and butter in pan; bring to a boil. Add ravioli, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with parsley.

Nutrition Facts:

            Calories: 162              

            Fat: 5g (sat. 4g, mono. 1g,  poly. 0g)               

            Protein: 6g              Fiber: 2g                                 

           Cholesterol: 17mg         Sodium: 505mg

           Calcium: 102mg

Recipe: Pumpkin Soup            Serves 6           Serving size: 1 cup


            1 tablespoon butter

            1 cup chopped onion

            3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

            ½ teaspoon curry powder

            ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

            ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

            2 garlic cloves, crushed

            1 cup peeled and cubed (1/2 inch) sweet potato

            ¼ teaspoon salt

            2 14.5 oz. cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

            1 15 oz. can pumpkin

            1 cup 1% low-fat milk

            1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

            2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)


            1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in flour, curry powder, cumin, nutmeg, and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add sweet potato, salt, broth, and pumpkin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool 10  minutes.

            2. Place half of pumpkin mixture in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining pumpkin mixture. Return soup to pan; stir in milk. Cook over medium heat 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often. (Do not boil.) Remove from heat; stir in juice. Garnish with chives, if desired.

Nutrition Facts:

            Calories: 121              

            Fat: 2.8g (sat. 1.6g, mono. 0.7g, poly. 0.2g)

            Protein: 5.1g                  Carbohydrates: 19.7g

            Fiber: 3.5g                    Cholesterol: 7mg

            Sodium 565mg              Calcium 85mg


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