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INGREDIENT OF THE MONTH: PUMPKIN

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It’s Pumpkin season!

Come winters and you can put this gorgeous orange-hued fruit to great use, from Halloween décor to salads to dessert this fruit has it all covered. This humble backyard vegetable is less in calories but packed with health benefits.
Pumpkins vary greatly in shape, size and colors. Giant pumpkins generally weigh 4–6 kg with the largest capable of reaching a weight of over 25 kg.

Pumpkins, in general, feature orange or yellow outer skin color; however, some varieties can be dark to pale green, brown, white, red and gray. Their color characteristics are largely influenced by yellow-orange pigments in their skin and pulp.

Health Benefits

Pumpkin is fairly high in fiber. One cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains 3 grams of fiber or roughly 11 per cent of your recommended daily intake of fiber

Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.

It is loaded with iron, potassium and magnesium. One small serving of pumpkin contains 250 milligrams of potassium and the same small serving of pumpkin also contains a good amount of iron. Moreover, unlike other sources of iron, pumpkin is fat-free.

It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 100 g fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. The vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.

Selection and Storage

For cooking, you may want a pumpkin that is heavy for its size. The lighter ones are drier, with a bigger open space in the middle. Avoid the one with wrinkled surface, cuts and bruises.

For cooking, you may want a pumpkin that is heavy for its size. The lighter ones are drier, with a bigger open space in the middle. Avoid the one with wrinkled surface, cuts and bruises.
Cooked pumpkin is fine in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. Ripe mature pumpkin may be stored for many weeks to come under cool, well-ventilated place at room temperature. However, cut sections should be placed inside the refrigerator where it can keep well for a few days.

Preparation

Cut the stem end and slice the whole fruit into two equal halves. Remove central net-like structure and set aside seeds. Remove skin if you must.Then cut the flesh into desired sizes. In general, small cubes are preferred in cooking preparations. Almost all the parts of the pumpkin plant; fruit, leaves, flowers and seeds, are edible.

- Pumpkin can be used in variety of delicious recipes either baked, stew- fried; however

- In India we widely use it the preparation of sabzee, halwa, desserts, soups and curries

- The fruit is used in the preparations of pies, pancakes, custard, ravioli in Europe and USA.

- Roasted Pumpkin seeds can be eaten as snacks

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