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Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere!

Hello Villagers,
You really can’t go through October and November without talking about pumpkins. Fun fact: the largest pumpkin ever grown was 1,700 pounds. That’s the size of an average saltwater crocodile. Pumpkins are a part of the gourd family and their name stems (pun intended) from the Greek word “pepon”, meaning “large melon”. Surprisingly, cucumbers, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, watermelon, and zucchini also belong within the gourd family.
Back in the 19th century, pumpkins were thought to be a remedy for freckles, snake bites, and urinary infections. Ladies and gentlemen of that era also used pumpkins to rid themselves of facial wrinkles. These days, thanks to modern technology, we still believe pumpkins are wonderful, just for different reasons. The bright orange flesh of the pumpkin is a sound indicator that it is packed full of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gets converted to vitamin A within the body. Consumption of this nutrient may reduce the risk of cancer development. Pumpkins are also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E, and iron. The seeds contain vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.
I started eating more pumpkin and serving it to my children thanks to it’s fiber content. One-half cup of pureed pumpkin contains 3.5 grams of fiber (14% of your daily requirement). All of my children had constipation issues when they shifted from babies who ate everything to super picky toddlers. I went on a mission to find ways to pack fiber into their diets and these pumpkin spice muffins became a staple in our household. (Side note: if you are increasing your fiber content, be sure to increase fluids too!) Growing up, I only really ate pumpkin in pie form, but it is fabulous in bread, stews, chili, and soups as well.
Feel free to use the comment section to post your favorite pumpkin recipe!

Jessica Barnes, PhD, RDN, LD

Dr. Jessica Barnes received her PhD in nutrition from Texas Woman's University. Her research focused on food preference development and creating materials to help preschoolers become familiar with healthy foods. She has worked with families and communities as a clinical and community Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

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