By Naini Setalvad
The humble golden vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients, easy on the budget, and can be made into delicious dishes.
Pumpkin – bhopla in Marathi, kaddu in Hindi, kolu in Gujarati, parangikkai in Tamil and kumra in Bengali are different names for a vegetable available all over the country. It is popular in the western as well as the Mediterranean worlds. I simply love this vegetable and can sing an ode to it. I get withdrawal symptoms if it is not cooked in my home twice or thrice a week.
Do you know that pumpkin is a dieter’s delight? It is low in calories (20 cal per 100 g), has zero fat, is easy to digest, and blends with almost any food.
It is also a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are the little soldiers that fight the damage done by free radicals caused by chemicals, pollution, and as a byproduct of breathing. Nature, however, compensates by giving us antioxidants in red, yellow, green, and orange coloured foods. That is why pumpkin is highly rated.
Pumpkin is great for eye health as it is high in beta-carotene. Although carrots are good for eyesight, they are not available all the year around unlike pumpkin. Being a water-based vegetable it is very light and cooling in summer. A cup of carrot contains 13,000 beta-carotene units while a cup of pumpkin is loaded with 33,000 beta-carotene units.
• High in vitamin A so great for the skin and the hair.
• Rich in potassium, therefore ideal for people suffering from high blood pressure.
• Aids in treatment for prostrate, kidneys and gall bladder.
• Regular intake of pumpkin and its seeds is excellent for men’s health. The seeds are high in zinc and they keep the prostrate healthy. Zinc is an essential requirement for both men and women for overall health. Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and essential fatty acids.
• Helps to eradicate tapeworm and roundworm from the intestines during an infection.
• Good source of fibre, prevents constipation, and improves bowel movement.
• Contains vitamin C so it increases immunity.
How to eat?
Rinse thoroughly before use.Cut into small cubes and remove the skin and seeds. You can also cook the pumpkin, and then cut and peel it. Pumpkin can also be boiled or steamed until tender. You can mash it into a puree or a soup, and bake it. It is a versatile vegetable. It lends itself well to almost all cuisines. Use it as a raita, koftas, or dumplings in sambar and stew, or in combination with other vegetables.
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