Sugar Pumpkins Make a Great Sidekick


Even living in sunny California during fall and winter when the days are shorter and a little bit chilly, I like to prepare hearty, cool-weather produce that also happens to fall into the “superfoods” category. On the top of my list is pumpkin. Their many disease fighting and anti-aging properties make them a perfect go-to food during the cold, dark winter months.

You may only associate pumpkins with Halloween, but fresh pumpkins are available from October through February. Pumpkins contain cucurbitacin, a steroid-like anti-inflammatory compound that may inhibit cancer cells. They are also loaded with carotenoids, which enhance the appearance of your skin and are converted in the body into immune-boosting Vitamin A.

They also contain large amounts of potassium (33 percent more than a medium banana) and beta carotene without a boat-load of calories—49 per cup mashed. The high amounts of potassium in pumpkins works with sodium to balance the amount of water in the body. A diet high in potassium helps keep blood pressure at a healthy level and assists with the prevention of strokes. Pumpkins contain more than 2400 mcg of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health.

On top of all of the healthy reasons to eat pumpkin, they are delicious, and this is a great time of year for them. Sugar pumpkins are mostly used in the fall months, which is a shame because they are the best variety of pumpkin to cook with and are available well through winter. Their flesh is less stringy and watery than the larger jack-o-lantern pumpkins. I like to roast them for a nice holiday side dish, too.

My Stuffed Sugar Pumpkins are delicious and fun to serve any time. They were featured on the Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family show this week when Golden Door Chef Greg Frey discussed pumpkins and made the recipe. The Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin recipe is featured below and in my Age Beautifully Cookbook.

Home and Family 5011 Final Photo Assets

The Golden Door’s General Manager, Kathy Van Ness, wrote the forward to the Age Beautifully Cookbook. Grace O and the FoodTrients team hosted a panel along with Chef Greg for guests at the Golden Door last fall.

“Both FoodTrients® and the Golden Door have complementary passions and purposes regarding how to live a nutritious life. Both originally were rooted in Asian culture and now have expanded to include the best ingredients and influences from around the world,” says Van Ness.  “Being conscious of what you eat is a critical first step to aging beautifully. Grace O understands how critical this first step is, and we are delighted to support FoodTrients at the Golden Door.”

Stuffed Sugar Pumpkins

Home and Family 5011 Final Photo AssetsServes 46


4–6 sugar pumpkins
Salt or salt substitute and freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 4 cups applesauce
Cinnamon (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare the pumpkins: Carefully remove the tops of each pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and fibers with a spoon, and clean the pumpkin tops.
  3. Salt and pepper the cavity of each pumpkin. Add cinnamon to taste, if desired.
  4. Spoon the applesauce into the cavity of each pumpkin. Depending on the size of the pumpkin, you will use anywhere from ¼ cup to 1 cup of applesauce per pumpkin. Fill the pumpkin to just beneath the top rim.
  5. Replace the pumpkin tops and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes–1 hour or until they are tender but not mushy. You can garnish with sage leaves or top with a little cinnamon.

About Grace O

Grace O has been cooking and baking professionally and recreationally all of her adult life. As a child in Southeast Asia, she learned the culinary arts by her mother’s side in her family’s cooking school. She became so well versed in hospitality and the culinary arts, she eventually took over the cooking school and opened three restaurants. She is widely credited with popularizing shrimp on sugar-cane skewers and being one of the first culinarians to make tapas a global trend. She has cooked for ruling families and royalty. Grace O’s move to America precipitated a career in healthcare, inspired by her father, who was a physician. Twenty years and much hard work later, she operates skilled nursing facilities in California. Grace O strives to create flavorful food using the finest ingredients that ultimately lead to good health. Her recipes, although low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, are high in flavor. Grace employs spices from all over the world to enliven her dishes, creating food that is different and delicious. She believes that food can be just as effective at fighting aging as the most expensive skin creams. And since she’s over 50 herself, she’s living proof of that.
What Do FoodTrients Do?
Ai Anti- inflammatories

Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.

Ao Anti- oxidant

Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

IB Immunity Boosters

Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.

MB Mind

Improves mood, memory, and focus.

F Disease Prevention

Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.