The Conscious Cook: The goodness of the great pumpkin

“I’ve learned there are three things you don’t discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.” — Linus Van Pelt

Whether heaped in great, gleaming piles at farmers’ markets, or adorning front porches with their scary, spooky, smiley faces, pumpkins are synonymous with October!

Pumpkins range in size from petite, creamy white specimens to gargantuan orange globes. Ever so useful as autumnal décor, pumpkins are a versatile and vital source of healthy nutrition.

This festive fall fruit offers a rich source of vitamin C and potassium, both of which may be effective at lowering the risk of heart disease, as well as normalizing blood pressure. The brilliant orange hue of many pumpkin varieties, is the result of an abundance of beta carotene, an antioxidant that transforms into vitamin A in the body. This vitamin may have an effect on boosting the efficiency of immune systems, as well as helping to repair free radical damage to cells.

Pumpkin adds a fabulous, smooth, silky texture and unique flavor to risotto, soup, muffins, cakes, breads, stews, chili, pasta, shakes and so much more. Fresh pumpkin is delightfully delicious and contains an added bonus; pumpkin seeds! Also known as pepitas, roasted pumpkin seeds are lightly crunchy, little gems that are a potent source of zinc, which may be helpful in promoting prostate health.

Pumpkin seeds also offer a significant amount of magnesium, phosphorous, copper, iron, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids, which may help relieve symptoms of high cholesterol, depression, high blood pressure and arthritis.

Enjoy the goodness of the Great Pumpkin as you prepare a delicious life.

Great Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6

1.5 pound sugar pumpkin (Trader Joe’s is a good source for these)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons organic butter

1 large sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped

2-3 cloves of minced garlic

5 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock

1 large Idaho or Yukon Gold potato, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon grated lemon or orange zest

½ cup half and half

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and strings. Peel pumpkin, then cut the flesh into cubes. You should have about 5-6 cups. Melt olive oil and butter in a pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and cook until just turning golden. Add broth, pumpkin and potato. Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat, cover pan and let simmer until contents are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then purée the mixture in a blender or food processor, in batches, until very smooth.

Return the puréed mixture to the pot. Add zest, cayenne pepper, then half and half. Warm over low heat. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a few roasted pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups clean, dry pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

In a large bowl mix the pumpkin seeds with the oil and salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until crisp. Remove from oven and let cool.

For more on Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” go to