Oct 26

It’s Pumpkin Day, so here’s a handy guide to making the most of this nutritious fruit

Autunm Pumpkin Today is World Pumpkin Day.  Across the pond in the States, pumpkins are a popular food, but I have rarely seen them eaten here.  Carved pumpkin heads are appearing ever more frequently around Halloween time thanks to our Transatlantic cousins, but I suspect that much of the flesh goes in the bin, contributing to the 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins which go in the bin every year – waste on a colossal scale!

Pumpkin: A Nutrition Powerhouse

This is a shame, because pumpkin flesh is fabulously healthy.  Since pumpkin flesh is 90% water, it is low in calories, but contains fibre, so is relatively filling.  8oz (226g) pumpkin contains only 49 calories, but 2.7g fibre (1/10 of the recommended daily amount).

Vitamins And Minerals Of PumpkinPumpkin is one of the best-known sources of beta carotene, which gives it its bright orange colour.  Beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body.  Eating a beta carotene-rich diet may help protect against heart disease and some forms of cancer.  Vitamin A is also important for eye health, and for fertility, although take care if you are pregnant, as too much Vitamin A can be harmful for the developing baby.

100g pumpkin contains around 340g of potassium, a similar amount to a banana, but with less than a third of the calories.  Having sufficient potassium, in combination with reducing sodium from salt, is important for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, and may contribute to a reduced risk of stroke.

You can often buy slices of pumpkin in greengrocers, which means that you only have to remove the skin.  If you can’t get hold of fresh pumpkin, or you find preparing pumpkins too much trouble, you can buy canned pumpkin, which is ideal for soups and sauces.  However, avoid the varieties with added sugar and syrup, normally branded as pumpkin pie mixes.  If you can’t get hold of either fresh or canned pumpkin, other winter squashes, such as butternut squash can be good substitutes.

Bowl of butternut squash soup

This yummy soup is an economical, healthy winter warmer.

How to enjoy pumpkin:

  • Roast wedges along with other winter vegetables

  • Puree into soups

  • Add to stews, tagines or curries

  • Mash instead of or along with potatoes

To get you started, here’s a recipe from the excellent Jamie Oliver.  Say what you like about Jamie, but his recipes always seem to work.


You can also make my fragrant butternut squash soup recipe with pumpkin.  Keep an eye out for my pumpkin curry recipe, coming very soon.

Glowing pumpkin lanterns

Originally an Irish custom

Did you Know:

  1. The word ‘pumpkin’ first appeared in the fairy tale Cinderella.  Before that, the French called them ‘big melons’.

  2. Jack-o’-lanterns were first carved by the Irish, who used potatoes or turnips.  The English used beetroot.  They were designed to ward off evil spirits.

  3. Pumpkins were once thought to get rid of freckles and cure snake bites.

  4. The world’s largest ever pumpkin was grown in 2013.  It weighed 2032lbs!

  5. And the largest pumpkin pie ever weighed 2020lbs. It was over 5 feet in diameter and took 6 hours to bake.

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