By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
If you’ve hated pumpkins for the first half of your life, you may be surprised that this fruit can delight you in the second half of your life. I belong to the latter. I can’t tell you how multi-dimensional the squash is.
Like many immigrants, I didn’t venture out to buy the orange fruit myself. Pumpkin pies were introduced to me during Thanksgiving, and I rejected it instantly. People put too much sugar in the pie, and kill the real flavor of the pumpkin. I could only taste the sugar and not the pumpkin, which was completely dissolved in the sugar. So, if you want to enjoy the benefits of consuming pumpkin, forget about the pies.
Since my recent interest is in studying the nutritional value of different types of food, the pumpkin’s health merits are fascinating. Its versatility is incomparable. It is low in calories, sodium, and saturated fat. It is high in fiber and water content. Best of all, it is good for your heart. It is a vital source of antioxidants. It is great for eye sight because of its excellent source of vitamin A, its beta carotene content, vitamin C, and potassium, which are anti-aging properties. If you want youthful skin, try pumpkins. Most importantly, it can strengthen your bones and lower inflammation of your joints. What I love most is, it is a happy fruit as it helps to lower depression.
Amazingly, even the tiny pumpkin seeds contain healthy fats, protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and antioxidants. As for the claim that it can improve fertility for men, hmmm, I don’t know about that.
My daughter-in-law told me that pumpkins can be eaten even after a year if you keep them in a cool place. So if you carve them for Halloween, don’t just throw them away afterwards. You can cook them afterwards for your dinner. Even the tiny cute pumpkins. Yes, you can cook them.
Really! My daughter-in-law said so. I have never done that before. But it is good to experiment.
If you want to be creative with pumpkin cooking, you can make a meat stew with pumpkins, pumpkin soup, and even pumpkin fried rice. These dishes are tasty, bringing out the pumpkin flavor. I have eaten pumpkin baked fried rice, which is fried rice inside the pumpkin after you take out the seeds. Bake them in slow heat for the rice to absorb the pumpkin juice for half an hour or more, it tastes like heaven.
Preparing pumpkin dishes like stew takes a lot of time, since you have to boil it first to get it cooked before you get its meat out. I paid my cleaning lady to make pumpkin soup for me and it was delightful and yummy. She also did a wonderful job in cooking spareribs with pumpkins.
You can be fancy in fixing pumpkins. Recently, my son raved about a pumpkin spice latte he bought from Tous Les Jours bakery in the Chinatown-International District. You see, pumpkins can be mixed with almost anything.
This time of the year, pumpkins are seen everywhere. Get your pumpkins from your neighborhood grocery stores. And spread the good news to your friends that pumpkins are not just a silly squash. Have fun with them for food, decoration, play, and art. Pumpkin is the spice of life, you just have to make full use of it.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.