Broc’s Everything Pumpkin

October 18, 2021
broc with pumpkins

Hello families!  We are transitioning into fall with the scent of pumpkin spice everywhere.  This month we focus on pumpkins; its goodness, its tastiness, its varieties, and the simple joys!  Come join me on this pumpkin-learning adventure.

Nutritional Value of Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a superfood!  Grab your cape and prepare yourself for what one cup of pumpkin will provide you:

 

1 Cup Raw

1 Cup cooked (not canned)

Calories

30

49

Carbohydrates

8 g

12 g

Fiber

1 g

3 g

Protein

1 g

2 g

Sugars

 <1g

5 g

 

While pumpkin is cholesterol and fat free, it is also a super source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A (beta-carotene) which supports healthy skin, teeth and vision.  Other vitamins include C and E that support our immune systems and provide a youthful appearance to skin.  Pumpkin can also provide potassium, riboflavin, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and folate.  So good for your body to grow, move and learn!

Pumpkins

Health Benefits of Pumpkins

This powerhouse fruit packs a punch in defending our bodies and supporting various bodily functions along the way:

  • Lowers disease risk-the antioxidants and zinc can battle against diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and some cancers
  • Helps with healthy blood pressure- using fiber, potassium, and vitamin C to regulate this function
  • Keeps you regular-fiber aids in healthy digestion and processing
  • Assists in maintaining a healthy weight- high fiber content gives us a feeling of fullness and will curb the sensation to snack
  • Supports skin health- vitamin C helps produce collagen (keeping the skin’s youthful glow) and defends against the sun’s damaging rays

Best Pumpkins to Use in Cooking

The word pumpkin is derived from the Greek work “pepon” which means large melon.  Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbitaceae plant family that mostly grow on vines.  They are related to cucumbers and melons.  All parts of the pumpkin plant are edible!

There are over 70 varieties of pumpkins worldwide.  Pumpkins need lots of space, water and warm weather to grow.  The top five producing states in America are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.  Morton, Illinois has claimed to be the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”

Other than your typical pie pumpkin, here are some pumpkin examples used for cooking:

Pumpkin Variety

Color

Weight Range

Best Use

Other

Casper

White skin, deep orange flesh

Up to 15 lbs.

Versatile use

 

Cherokee Bush

Orange skin, yellow flesh

5-8 lbs.

Roast or puree

 

Cinderella

All orange

15 inches across

Soups

Flat shape

Cushaw Green

White/Green-striped skin, creamy color flesh

20 inches long

Roast, Puree, steam, in a salad

Long squash

Dill’s Atlantic

All orange

Large

Soup, stew, or butter

 

Fairy Tale

Faded orange skin, dark orange flesh

Up to 15 lbs.

Bake, soup, stew

 

Jarrahdale

Green-blue skin, orange flesh

5-8 lbs.

Pies, roast, stew, soup

Stringless

Musquee de Provence

Multicolor skin (brown to pink), orange flesh

10-20 lbs.

Versatile use

 

Pepitas Hybrid

Speckled green-yellow skin, light yellow flesh

9-12 lbs.

Bake, soups, stew, snacking seeds

Hull-less seeds

Red Warty Thing

All deep orange

Up to 20 lbs.

Bake, roast, pickle, freeze

Tough rind-will store very long

Rouge Vif D’Etampes

Vivid red skin, orange flesh

10-15 lbs.

Bake, soup, curries

Flat shape

 

Some varieties grown in Massachusetts consist of Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pumpkin Pie, Lumina (white), Cinderella and Fairy Tale.  Look for them at your local farmers’ markets or farm stands, click here https://dtafinder.dtadash.ehs.mass.gov/.  There are over 200 farms in Massachusetts where you could purchase pumpkins and 66 of those offer a Pick-Your-Own opportunity, click here https://www.mass.gov/guides/pick-your-own-farms#-pumpkins-.

Various Ways to Eat Pumpkins

Most pumpkins can be baked, roasted, and steamed or added to soups and stews.  Chunks can be added to chili, frittatas, risotto, pizzas, casseroles or lasagna.  From a puree, it can be made into a hummus, curry sauce, a marinara sauce, smoothies, pancakes, muffins, breads, scones, cookies, snack bars or layered in a parfait or trifle, mixed into oatmeal, or baked as a good, old-fashioned pumpkin pie.  Try this mouth-watering dinner recipe with your family:  https://www.myplate.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/pumpkin-ricotta-stuffed-shells.

Most pumpkins have up to 500 seeds inside!  Try roasting the seeds for a healthy snack.  Here is an easy step-by-step recipe:

  1. Wash your hands and the pumpkin.
  2. Cut an opening in the top and scoop out the pulp and seeds.
  3. Remove the pulp from the seeds and pat them dry.
  4. Toss the seeds with olive oil and your favorite seasonings (minimally salt and pepper).
  5. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 450° for 12 minutes, mix around every 4 minutes to ensure even baking.

Safely Storing Pumpkin

Whole

Cool dry spot, no sunlight

Up to 3 months

Prepared Chunks

In sealed container or bag

In the refrigerator for 1 week

Cooked/Pureed

In sealed container or bag

In the freezer for 1 year

Seeds

Toasted, in sealed container or bag, in a cool, dry place

2-3 months

OR 1 year in the refrigerator

Life Cycle of Pumpkins

From seed to pumpkin, this plant takes between 90-120 days to grow.

Seed to sprout to vine to flower to fruit bulb to mature pumpkin.

Pumpkins need lots of space, water, and warm weather. Pumpkins range in almost all colors of the rainbow; red, orange, yellow, green and blue, even black and white.

Read About Pumpkins with Children

For more details on the history of pumpkins, details of their life cycle, parts and uses, check out these books from your local library:

  1. Pumpkins Board Book, by Gail Gibbons, 2019, Ages 0-3 years
  2. La Cosecha de Calabazas/Pumpkin Harvest, by Calvin Harris, 2016, Ages 4-7 years (multilingual-Spanish)
  3. From Seed to Pumpkin, by Wendy Pfeffer, 2015, includes recipes and experiments, Ages 4-8 years
  4. How to Help a Pumpkin Grow, by Ashley Wolff, 2021, Ages 4-8 years
  5. Pumpkin Circle: The Story of the Garden, by George Levenson, 2002, Ages 5-8 years
  6. Pumpkins (non-fiction), by Victoria Blakemore, 2017, Ages 6-10 years

Get Moving with these Pumpkin Activities

Not only do we need to eat healthy, but we need to move our bodies.  Why not do it with a pumpkin?!?!

Play this tune, I Love Pumpkins on YouTube, by Harry Kindergarten Music, and lift those pumpkins high:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I884JkS_aFg.

Enjoy fall, pumpkins, and cooler weather!  - Broc

Resources:

Pumpkin Education - Pumpkins and More - University of Illinois Extension: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/pumpkins/facts.cfm