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Pumpkins not just decorative, they fight disease

Posted at 9:17 PM, Sep 17, 2014

All sorts of pumpkin foods are available for those looking to celebrate the fall with some spice.

But if you want the taste without spending the extra dough, there’s an easy solution — make pumpkin foods and drinks at home.

“I just love the fact that pumpkins are so versatile and so healthy,” said Nancy Fuller of Food Network’s TV show “Farmhouse Rules.”

Pumpkin may be used in everything from desserts to casseroles and added to drinks such as coffees and cocktails. The gourd also can be pretty easy to use, Fuller said.

“You buy a pumpkin that you can handle, you cut it in half, you put it on a sheet pan upside down and you put it in the oven at 350 for an hour or whatever and there you go, pumpkin puree,” she said. 

Fuller said she recommends people buy smaller, sugar pumpkins for cooking as opposed to larger pumpkins used for carving. The bigger pumpkins are more stringy.

Once pureed, pumpkin can be used in pastas or other savory dishes with sage. For those with a sweet tooth, pumpkin can be mixed with cinnamon, allspice and/or sugar to make cakes, pies or ice cream. Pumpkin also can be mixed with other root vegetables such as squash as a side dish.

But it’s important to add flavoring to pumpkin, which can be somewhat bland all by itself.

“If you cook it and reduce it and make a pulp you’ll get a flavor, but not one that you’re going to get the kids to eat,” she said. “You need to add a little something to that.”

Fuller said pumpkin is both low in calories and high in Vitamin A, C and E. A cup of pumpkin also has seven grams of fiber, Fuller said.

“One of it’s attributes is fighting lung disease,” she said. “I like to make foods that are beneficial to one’s health when feeding my family or feeding my friends.”

Looking for a tasty pumpkin recipe? Try here and here.