Why you should be eating pumpkin this winter

Whether it’s in mains, sides or even desserts, pumpkin is a winner on any menu. Find out about this versatile favourite, including some great ways to enjoy it.

Fresh in season pumpkins and pumpkin seeds

As well as being good for you, pumpkin adds bright colour and delicious flavour to your cooking.

You may be quite familiar with the humble pumpkin, but did you know that this versatile vegetable is technically a fruit?1 Pumpkins are a type of gourd and are closely related to both cucumbers and melons. The number of pumpkin varieties that exist are upwards of one hundred, however, the two most commonly available in Australia are butternut and Kent (also known as Jap. Boasting an impressive nutrient profile and available almost all-year round, pumpkins are a great addition or centrepiece to any meal.

Nutrition & health

Pumpkin’s bright orange colour comes from beta-carotenes which are converted into vitamin A in the body1. Vitamin A is a natural antioxidant which helps to protect the body's cells from damage. In addition, it plays an important role in maintaining good eyesight and a strong immune system1. Due to the high water content of pumpkin, it’s low in kilojoules (170kJ/100g), but filled with a variety of nutrients including fibre, potassium and vitamin C 2. Adding pumpkin to your favourite meals not only boosts the nutrient content but can help you in achieving the recommended five serves of vegetables daily, as recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) are also edible and contain an abundance of micronutrients including iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese and copper. Not sure how to enjoy them? Try this  pumpkin seed pesto.

How to use it

Pumpkin is super versatile and can be used in a range of both sweet and savoury dishes. It can be roasted in wedges in the oven and eaten as a side, or roasted in cubes to stir through risotto or toss into salads; blended into pumpkin soup; cubed and added to laksa or curries; grated and combined with other vegetable/legumes to make veggie patties or even used in place of potato in pumpkin gnocchi. Due to its natural sweetness, pumpkin is well suited as an addition to desserts, think pumpkin muffins, slices and breads or the American classic, pumpkin pie. The options are endless!

Cooking tips

Try roasting pumpkin in cubes with a sprinkle of cinnamon which helps to enhance the natural sweetness. Toss with some rocket, goat’s cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and some lemon and extra virgin olive oil, for a quick and easy salad.

Cooking time will vary with different pumpkin varieties, and some hold their shape when cooked better than others. For this reason, different varieties are better suited to different dishes. If adding to a curry or laksa, go for butternut which will hold its shape better, if roasting or mashing go for kent, which has a sweeter flavour and softer texture.

There’s no need to remove the skin from Kent pumpkin as it is completely edible and contains additional fibre and micronutrients, just be sure to give it a good wash first. The butternut pumpkin skin is also edible, however, it takes a bit longer to soften especially when roasting. 

 

1. https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/afcd/Pages/fooddetails.aspx?PFKID=F007553

2. https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf

3. https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/afcd/Pages/fooddetails.aspx?PFKID=F008212