One question that keeps coming up in my mind is whether pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable?

The easiest way to find the answer is to ask yourself whether or not it contains seeds – if it does, then it is technically a fruit. If this is the case then all these others are fruit as well – tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans, bell peppers - and the list goes on and on – and no matter what category it goes under, once you try cooking it into several recipes, you will no doubt agree it is delicious and the sort of meal you appreciate this time of year.

Ever wondered why the ‘Humble Pumpkin’ is associated with Halloween?

I know I have and found an interesting folktale explaining why...it all started in the Emerald Isle...Ireland and a man called Stingy Jack. Apparently he invited the devil for a drink but couldn’t pay for some reason, and he convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin. Stingy Jack didn’t want to use the coin and kept it for himself. After some time Jack freed the devil who in turn promised not to take his soul to hell, but instead he gave Jack an ember which was in a hollowed out turnip and carried as he walked the earth forever more. This legend went all the way to the United States with the Irish immigrants. Soon after, children started making their very own lanterns using pumpkins instead, as these were easier to come by and this led to the carving of frightening faces – thus during the 19th century ‘Jack-o-Lanterns’ became very popular as decorations at Halloween parties to the point that Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without them!

THE BENEFITS

It has been discovered

that just one cup of cooked pumpkin, has more potassium than the banana – therefore helping the body’s balance of electrolytes – especially after an intense workout - keeping muscles working in peak condition

Beta carotene - the body converts this

into vitamin A to protect the eyes. Found also in oranges, sweet potatoes and carrots, Beta carotene may play a role in the prevention of cancer – according to the National Cancer Institute

Keeping colds at bay with vitamin C ?

Pumpkins are full of this essential vitamin – just one cup of cooked pumpkin holds more than 11 milligrams – or almost 20% of the 60 milligrams the IOM recommends for women – men should take approx 75 milligrams

It was also reported that pumpkin

has free radical neutralising properties that not only keep cancer cells at bay but also helps the skin to remain wrinkle free

A simple one cup measure

- contains only 49 calories but keeps you feeling full longer

It is a huge source of fibre

– 3 grams in a one cup measure

They are rich in carotenoids

– a compound that gives vegetables their intense orange colour

Pumpkin seeds are rich

in certain plant based compounds called phytosterols – these have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or ‘bad ‘cholesterol

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Fancy some Pumpkin Soup?

Take a look at this traditional but very easy recipe...

Start cooking