Pumpkin – a Super Vegetable


Summer has come and gone.  We pulled out long sleeves and long pants and even wore sweatshirts yesterday.  Days are growing shorter, and we are forced to spend more and more time indoors.  I will miss daylight until 9pm, fresh fruits and vegetables from our garden, and hot days dipping my feet into the baby pool while Gavin splashes around.  I do look forward to the coziness of fall, especially the food. 

This weekend, I felt inspired to make one of my favorite fall dishes – Pumpkin Black Bean Soup.  Did you know that pumpkins are a super vegetable ? One serving provides well over your 100% daily allowance of beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene is known for protecting us against a variety of cancers and heart disease.  It is also chock full of carotenoids which protect your body against free radicals.  Free radicals are unstable atoms that are missing an electron.  If you remember from Chemistry class, electrons are those little things circling around the center of an atom.  Atoms are always striving to be stable, which can only happen when they have the right number of electrons.   These free radicals may steal an electron from another atom causing that atom to become a free radical.  This chain reaction can lead to the damage of a cell.  (That’s about the extent of my Chemistry knowledge.) While these free radicals do naturally occur in the body, the environment can also contribute to them.  Pollution, smoking, pesticides can all generate free radicals.  Carotenoids attract free radicals, making them stable atoms again.  Having a diet rich in carotenoids helps to prevent cell death and destruction, thus protecting us from diseases like cancer.    

Pumpkin is also a rich resource of Fiber and Iron.  I think that we all know why Fiber is necessary in our bodies.  Not everyone knows the importance of iron.  Hemoglobin is formed by iron.  Do you know what hemoglobin is?  Hemoglobin is found in our red blood cells.  Oxygen binds to it, and as our red blood cells move throughout our bodies, that oxygen is deposited to all of our cells, keeping them healthy.  If you do not have enough iron in your body, you won’t have enough hemoglobin.  I’m sure you can guess where this is leading.  Low hemoglobin counts means that your body can’t transfer the necessary amount of oxygen.  This condition is also known as anemia, which has the symptoms fatigue, paleness, irritability and increased heart rate.  Yes, you can take iron supplements which have their own negative side effects, but the most effective way to get enough iron is through our diet.

I’m hoping that I have sold you on why pumpkin should be incorporated into our diets.  The problem with pumpkin is that most of us only think of pumpkin as a baking ingredient.  When I think of pumpkin, I think of pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin bar.  All are delicious, with the exception of pumpkin pie (in my opinion), but they are all desserts.  I learned of the super powers of pumpkin while taking a nutrition class a little over a year ago, and since then, I have been on the lookout for pumpkin recipes for main dishes.  I tried a pumpkin pasta recipe once, which turned out to be very disappointing, but then I stumbled on to this soup recipe.  It is delicious!  It’s filled with hearty vegetable broth, black beans for protein, and pumpkin for all the aforementioned health benefits.  It’s simple and easy to make and makes for fabulous leftovers.  By the way, I cannot take credit for this recipe.  As with all of my cooking adventures, this recipe came from someone else.  I have no idea whom, but thank you to who everyone created it.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

2 (15 oz) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes

4 cups of vegetable broth

2 cups of canned pumpkin

½ cup of chopped red onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 tbs cumin

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

Oil

  1.  Puree black beans, tomatoes and a little bit of the broth in a food processor or with a blender.
  2. Heat the oil in a soup pot.  Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and let simmer for 45 minutes.
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One response to this post.

  1. I LOVE Fall!!! If it could be fall all year I would be happy. I didn’t know all of those things about pumpkin, thanks for sharing, and Thank you for the great recipe..I will have to try it out this weekend. =)

    Reply

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