Article by Megan – co-founder of Too Tasty to Throw.
Pumpkin is one of the most versatile of vegetables. It can be used in soups, stews, cakes, biscuits, as a spread for toast, a salad ingredient, seeds to top your cereal and skin to use for vegetable stock. The list goes on. However, sadly in terms of waste, it is much more common for people to buy pumpkin pre-cut or in quarters, using a lot more plastic wrap, than buying it whole. Buying and eating the whole pumpkin from skin to seed has so many health benefits, reduces waste and is a lot cheaper. These beauties shouldn’t be reserved for carving at Halloween. So, what can you do with a whole pumpkin?
Firstly, roast it whole. Anyone who has cooked with pumpkin before knows how difficult it is to cut. So, bypass the cutting and bake the pumpkin in the oven whole. There is very little prep work involved and the pumpkin is much easier to cut into after its been cooked. Simply stab the outer shell a few times with a knife to allow for ventilation and place the pumpkin on a baking dish to roast in the oven at 180 degrees for 45-60 minutes, depending on size. The pumpkin is ready when the flesh is darker, and the skin can be easily pierced with a fork.
Now for what to do with all that pumpkin:
- The skin. Why not try making pumpkin crisps? Peel the skin from the cooked pumpkin and cut into crisp sized pieces. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes to crisp up. An alternative is to cut the skin into fine strips and use in a stir fry. YUM!
- The flesh. Hummus with half the flesh and muffins with the other? Cut the remaining pumpkin flesh in half and scoop out the seeds from the middle. The flesh is so versatile but one of my favourite recipes is to blitz half a pumpkin in a food processor with a can of chickpeas, 2 tbsp of tahini, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 garlic clove and 1 tsp of cumin and whizz until smooth, for a lighter and healthier hummus. The remainder can be used to make healthy pumpkin muffins. Recipe here.
- The seeds. Love peanut butter but want a sustainable alternative making sure you use all the pumpkin? Look no further…roasted pumpkin seeds on a multi grain roll or toast make a great breakfast or take to work lunch. Simply take your seeds and pull away any remaining flesh and rinse clean. Spread over a large baking tray. Add some olive oil and then salt and your preferred spices (fennel, chilli, pepper) and some olive oil. Bake at 180 deg for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Leave to cool. Butter your bread of choice and press into the seeds…delicious.
Now you know what to do with one, what are the benefits of getting as much goodness out of your pumpkin as you can?
- Lots of fibre to make sure you feel full. Pumpkin seeds have 1.7g of fibre per 25g, while mashed pumpkin has 3g per cup with only 50 calories. This load of fibre helps keep you feel full.
- Twice the recommended daily amount of vitamin A to help your vision.
- Pumpkin seed oil is packed with phytoestrogens to help lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension.
- Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan to help the body make serotonin to help you sleep better & feel happier.
- Pumpkin and its seeds are rich in beta carotene and other antioxidants with cancer protective qualities.
- All the fibre also helps heart health. Those eating a diet high in fibre are found in various studies to have a 25-40% lower risk of heart disease.
So head in store, buy a whole pumpkin & eat it skin to seeds!