The season of pumpkins, squash, and gourds is here! Their striking looks are often emphasized this time of year, but from nutrients for your body, to enzymes for your skin, members of the "cucurbita" genus offer so much more than a decorative element! Here are a few key things to know about these often weirdly shaped but totally wonderful vegetables:
- Pumpkins are thought to have originated In what are now known as the Americas, where squash was domesticated even before corn and beans! Archaeologists have found evidence of their domestication going back over 8,000 years from the very southern parts of Canada down to Argentina and Chile.
- It does require a little bit of seed-scooping work to prep pumpkins and squash in the kitchen, but it’s worth the effort. They are a great source of vitamin C, magnesium, dietary fibre, phosphorus, potassium, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin K. They are also a source of vitamin B1, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, vitamin B2, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, choline and protein.
- And speaking of seeds, don’t let those pumpkin seeds go to waste after they’ve been scooped! They’re an excellent source of protein and unsaturated fats, including omega-3, and also contain a range of nutrients including iron, selenium, calcium, B vitamins and beta-carotene, as well as loads of magnesium and zinc. Roast them up with a bit of salt and oil—maybe even toss them in nutritional yeast when the’ve cooled off! They’re a fantastic snack for on the go, or to munch while you’re at work or studying.
- Pumpkin is not only good for your body, it can be a lovely pick-me-up for your skin because of its fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) which can increase cell turnover, and its Vitamin C, which is widely held to help soften and soothe the skin and boost collagen production. A lot of high quality natural beauty lines make masks and peels with pumpkin enzymes—next time your in the store ask one of our healthy living staff what they would recommend!
- And finally, pumpkins and squash grow really well in BC! They are an awesome local crop that are grown organically on many wonderful farms. Getting into various varieties of cucurbitas—acorn squash, butternut squash, kabocha, sugar pie squash, pumpkins and more—helps you eat local and support your community of BC growers. It’s a good thing they’re so tasty roasted, mashed, grilled, made into pies, chopped up in soups, tossed in salads…