11/2/2016 5:03:13 PM
|written By : Nithya Subramanian|
Autumn is synonymous with pumpkins – festivals like Halloween and Thanksgiving aren’t complete without them. This popular vegetable, which is scientifically classified as fruit, is all around us – either as a key ingredient in festive dishes or as decorations such as jack-o-lanterns.
It is widely said that pumpkins are native to North America, but a study released in 2013 by researchers Arun Pandey from University of Delhi and Susanne Renner from the University of Munich, Germany, confirmed that the origin of melons and cucumbers can be traced back to India. Pumpkins, melons and cucumbers are all part of the same plant family called Cucurbitaceae, which also includes watermelon, bottle gourds, and bitter gourd. They are now grown all over the world except Antartica.Christopher Columbus is credited with taking them to Europe.
The pumpkin has played a significant part in the food culture of the pilgrims who landed in America. It was part of the triumvirate of corn, wheat and pumpkin which sustained them. Pumpkins were considered very nutritious and helped them survive the harsh northern winters.
A Pilgrim verse, circa 1633, sums it all:
For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.”
The pumpkin is a very valuable plant packed with nutrients and almost completely edible. We can eat its leaves, flowers and fruit
1. Weight loss: Very low in calories, and packed with dietary fibre, pumpkins help you lose weight.
2. Combats cancer: The pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitaminA, vitaminC and vitaminE. These help protect against lung and oral cavity cancers.
3. Protects muscle: Zeaxanthin, found in pumpkin, is a natural anti-oxidant, which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in the retina of the eyes. Thus, it may offer protection from “age-related macular disease” in the elderly.
4. Skin and hair: The pumpkin is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus that keep your skin and hair young.
5. Heart: Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for the heart. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and vitamins.
6. Energy booster: If bananas are considered to be a storehouse of energy, pumpkins are even better. A cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refuelling nutrient potassium than a banana. Potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
With so many great qualities, it is no surprise that the pumpkin often finds reference in popular culture, in fairy tales like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater, and Cinderella.
1. In a saucepan combine the pumpkin puree with the honey over medium low heat and whisk until the honey has melted enough and the two are completely combined.
2. Make sure the mixture is not too hot and add in the eggs. Mix the cornstarch with a small amount of milk until there are no lumps then add the cornstarch mixture along with the spice, the rest of the milk and a pinch of salt to the pot.
3. Whisk together and cook over medium heat just until thickened and just starting to boil. When thick, remove from the heat and pour the pudding into individual ramekins. Pudding will thicken more as it cools.
4. Let cool slightly before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating until ready to serve.
5. To serve top with a sprinkle more pumpkin pie spice if desired and a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.