You may only associate pumpkins with Halloween, but fresh pumpkins are available from October through February. They 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.
I like to make a Moringa Vegetable Soup (see below), which also contains powdered moringa leaves, pumpkin, eggplant, okra, onions and many other vegetables. The moringa leaf powder is rich in protein, vitamins A, B, C and minerals. It’s a delicious, high FoodTrient meal in a bowl!
You might also want to try my Stuffed Sugar Pumpkins recipe (See below). Sugar pumpkins are mostly used as decoration in the fall months. That’s a shame because they are the best variety of pumpkin to cook with. 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.
Stuffed Sugar Pumpkins
Salt or salt substitute and freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 4 cups applesauce
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.
In Africa and Asia, where moringa plants grow in abundance, people add the tiny leaves to soups and stews just before serving. The leaves are wilted by the hot liquid but are not fully cooked, so their vitamins stay intact. I also like the flavor of moringa combined with squash, eggplant, and okra (another African ingredient). For this soup, any smoked fish, such as salmon, can be used. To make this soup vegan, use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock and omit the fish or fish sauce. To give this soup an Asian flair, add 1 tablespoon of ginger root, cut into strips.
Moringa Vegetable Soup
2 cups diced kabocha squash or pumpkin, seeds removed and rind on
1 quart chicken stock
¾ cup diced eggplant
9 pieces okra, cut in halves or thirds
¾ cup cut string beans
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
½ cup diced onion
¾ cup diced medium tomato
¼ lb. flaked smoked fish or 1 Tbs. fish sauce
½ cup fresh moringa leaves or 1 Tbs. moringa powder dissolved in 3-4 Tbs. warm water
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, boil the squash or pumpkin in the chicken stock for 10 minutes.
2. Add the eggplant, okra, and string beans, and boil the vegetables until they are tender, about 7–10 minutes.
3. While the soup is cooking, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and stir-fry until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the tomato to the sauté pan and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add the flaked fish or fish sauce and cook an additional 5 minutes.
5. Remove soup from heat and stir in the sauté mixture. Add the moringa leaves or powder. Season with the salt and pepper.