The humble pumpkin or kaddu has long been a much reviled vegetable during childhood. It’s only when we grow up that we realise what a giving, nutritious and tasty vegetable it is. In fact, that is true of the entire squash family.
When your food is organic, you can be sure that you’re closest to nature. I Say Organic gets up close and personal with pumpkins and their sqaushy cousins
Where does squash come from?
North America. The most ancient sign of pumpkin-related produce comes from Mexico, between 5500 and 7000 BC. The word ‘pumpkin’ comes from the French word pompom, which the British changed to pumpion and the Americans to pumpkin.
Fun fact: Pumpkins are grown in every continent, except in Antarctica.
Why are squashes so good for us?
Vitamins A, B1, B3, B6 and C, iron, magnesium and calcium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, folate and potassium – every member of the squash family be it pumpkin, tinda or chayote is full of vitamins and minerals. Full of water and fibre, the squash family is great for diabetics and those who want to lose weight. Squashes are also good for muscle function and healthy immune systems. They reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. The antioxidants present in pumpkins and chayotes are anti-carcinogens that also fight the signs of ageing.
Pumpkins in particular also boost happiness as they are full of depression and anxiety fighting tryptophan.
Fun fact: Pumpkins are 90 per cent water, which means the nutrition comes from the remaining 10 per cent.
Did you say pumpkin seeds are also good?
Oh yes. The seeds of the pumpkin, known as pepitas are a huge favourite both in terms of taste and nutrition. Small and flat, they are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc. Even the oil from these seeds is used as a salad dressing because of its robust flavour. Pumpkin seed oil is also great for health, as it is rich in oleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid.
Fun fact: Pumpkin flowers are also edible!
Sweet squash – Pumpkin Halwa
- 1 kg peeled pumpkin, diced into 1 inch pieces
- 1 1/2″ cinnamon stick
- 200 ml water
- 150 gm jaggery
- 4 tbsp ghee
- 50 gm raisins
- 2 tbsp grated-roasted coconut
- 2 tbsp flaked-roasted almonds
- Cook the pumpkin and cinnamon in water in a saucepan until tender.
- Drain and mash the pumpkin.
- Heat oil in a saucepan and cook the pumpkin, stirring continuously.
- Allow pumpkin mash to reduce and thicken.
- Stir in enough jaggery to sweeten.
- Continue cooking until the halwa reduces into a deep amber, glossy mixture.
- Ladle into serving dishes and garnish with raisins, coconut and almonds.