Now that the weather is colder and the air is crisp, I have the desire to bake and fill the house with autumn smells such as pumpkin pie and hot mulled cider. I love to create my own recipes that are both nutritious and delicious.
Pumpkins, like other orange or yellow fruits and veggies, are excellent sources of beta-carotene, an antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A. Antioxidants are important for your health because they neutralize free radicals or unstable substances in your body. Free radicals are produced when the cells in your body create energy by using oxygen or are formed when you are exposed to environmental factors such as cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light. Free radicals can damage body cells and tissues. Your chances of developing certain types of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease increase when you are continually subjected to harmful environmental factors. Eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, like pumpkin, broccoli, spinach, and berries, reduces your risk of developing these diseases due to their abundance of antioxidants.
Vitamin A supports normal vision and helps your eyes adjust well to the dark. It also promotes the growth and health of cells and tissues throughout your body as well as protecting you from infections by keeping the skin and tissues in your mouth, stomach, intestines, and respiratory, genital, and urinary tracts healthy.
Pumpkin is also rich in vitamin K with one-half cup of canned pumpkin supplying about 40% of your daily requirements. This water-soluble vitamin is responsible for producing proteins that cause your blood to clot when you bleed. Additionally, vitamin K also aids in the production of other proteins that are needed for your blood, bones, and kidneys.
Pumpkin is a good source of potassium and magnesium. These minerals play essential roles in maintaining blood pressure. A half cup of canned pumpkin supplies approximately 7% of your daily requirement for potassium and magnesium and 10 and 8 percent of your daily needs for iron and vitamin C, respectively. Pumpkin is also naturally low in fat and provides a healthy 5 grams of fiber per servng. And, it can be easily incorporated into a variety of tasty and nutritious dishes or healthier desserts. A few of my favorites are hot pumpkin pie cereal, moist pumpkin bread, pumpkin bread pudding and pumpkin soup.
As you can tell, I just love the taste and versatility of pumpkin. For a scrumptious recipe for moist pumpkin bread visit: http://fitnutrition.net/moist-spiced-pumpkin-bread/
Enjoy baking with family and friends this autumn!