Tag Archives: pumpkin

T’was A Superfood Christmas

Christmas 2009

T’was a Superfood Christmas, and all through the house,

The decorations complete, even tea towels with Mickey Mouse.

Some snacks before dinner, cinnamon coated walnuts with care.

Saving the dark chocolate for dessert, with almonds to spare.

There was spinach and roasted pumpkin salad,

Garlic & Lemon dressing made it more superfood valid.

Took the bottle of red wine out of the gift wrap,

Steamed the broccoli, peas and beans – no time for a nap.

Tarts with cranberries and cherries adorned the Christmas platter,

Saving the blueberries for the morning, for pancake batter.

Red Wine

That was my version of the traditional Christmas poem that I’m sure you’ve heard more than a few times before.  Just because it was Christmas, it was not a reason to overindulge.  The superfoods were in abundance in our home.

Roasted Pumpkin & Spinach Salad

Superfoods contribute to a healthy body and mind.  Our Christmas Eve menu consisted of  almonds and walnuts as snacks.  The sparkling shiraz was the start of the red wine health benefits, and red wine to accompany the meal.

Cherries!!

A mixture of different berries:  blueberries, cherries and cranberries gave us many health benefits.  Broccoli, spinach and pumpkin were packed with superfood benefits and of course, a bit of dark chocolate and sweet potato pie for dessert.

Beach Christmas Day

Christmas morning started with an early swim at the beach, to get our exercise to start the day. Then we came back and had pancakes for breakfast.  The pancake batter was wheat-free and dairy-free with blueberry superfood benefits.

Blueberry Pancake

Wishing you a very healthy start to the new year – all the best to you and yours for a fabulous 2010!

Chiropam

Happy Halloween

Halloween KugelhopfAs an American living in Australia, I have seen the American holiday creep into Australia over the years.  Now more than ever, there are decorations, costumes, party favours, candy/lollies to get into the Halloween spirit.  I must admit that it was one of my favourite holidays as a child.  I cherish those memories and really enjoyed celebrating the holiday with other fellow Americans when my daughter was little.  The American Women’s Club of Perth was so influential in facilitating the American holidays, as well as an excellent way to mingle with other Americans living in Perth.  This year I will be celebrating with some American friends, but not necessarily traditionally.  I had some Halloween decorations to use on a pumpkin cake recipe that I modified to call my own.  Celebrating with the superfood-pumpkin we will have Pumpkin Spice Cake and Pumpkin Spinach Salad.

Pumpkin Spice Cake  (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

125g  butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
180g peeled pumpkin, steamed and mashed
2 cups sifted plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1-1/2teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon cinnamon
1  teaspoon nutmeg
1  teaspoon allspice
1  teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup buttermilk

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180C.  I used a fan forced oven.
Cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat till fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.

Slowly beat in the pumpkin.
Sift all the dry ingredients together, then add some buttermilk, alternating until all mixed in.

Tupperware KugelhopfPour the cake batter into the Tupperware Kugelhopf and bake for about 40-45 minutes. Remember, every oven is different so time will vary.  Test with cake tester or knife.   It should spring back when pressed lightly.

Cool cake in tin on a rack for 5 minutes -this allows for air to circulate around the base of the tin too. Turn onto rack gently to cool completely.

Decorate as desired.  I frosted and decorated with Halloween sprinkles.  It can be used anytime of year, just sprinkle with icing sugar.

Have a Happy Halloween!  Try the cake recipe even if it’s not for Halloween.  It’s great all year round, let me know how it turns out:-)

Superfoods – Walnuts

walnuts

Walnuts are superfoods for many reasons.  Eating walnuts regularly provides the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.  Walnuts have the highest antioxidant content of the tree nuts.

Research suggests that walnuts can be a healthy part of the diet for the prevention of not only breast and other cancers, but also diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Walnuts – “The King of Nuts”

Walnuts are considered by many as the “king of nuts” from a nutritional perspective.  Walnuts, like other nuts are high in monounsaturated fats.  These are the same type of health-promoting fats that are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease.  Therefore, to get the health benefits of walnuts, a moderate handful is sufficient.

Other health benefits of walnuts include:

  • Prevent Gallstones – as little as 1 ounce per week has been shown to reduce the risk of gallstones.
  • Source of Bioavailable Melatonin – improves the quality of sleep.
  • Prevents Atherosclerosis – lowers LDL’s (bad cholesterol).
  • Controls High Blood Pressure – omega 3 fatty acids help to regulate the blood pressure.
  • Antioxidant King – one of the highest antioxidant levels of all superfoods.
  • Promotes Heart Health – reduces overall cholesterol, reduces LDL’s (bad cholesterol), increases artery elasticity, antioxidant activity reduces heart disease risk by protecting the blood vessels from free radical damage.
  • Regulates Type II Diabetes – improved overall cholesterol profile, which helps to regulate the effects of the disease.
  • Protects Bone Health – supports bone health and prevents excessive bone turnover with the bioactivity of alpha linolenic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid found specifically in walnuts.
  • Enhances Brain Activity – omega 3 fatty acid  content helps to sustain a clear, healthy brain by supporting the cellular function via the fatty brain cell membranes.

Walnuts are a fantastic source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have been found to not only protect the heart and promote better cognitive function, but also provide anti-inflammatory benefits for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and psoriasis.

Walnuts also contain the antioxidant compound ellagic acid, which is known to fight cancer and support the immune system.  Studies have shown approximately 16 polyphenols in walnuts, including three new tannins, with antioxidant activity so powerful it was described as “remarkable.”

So ‘in a nutshell’, walnuts are incredibly healthy for many different parts of the body.  Try incorporating them into main meals like ‘spinach roasted pumpkin and walnut salad‘ or treats like ‘walnut raisin cookies‘ in the following video:

Superfoods – Pumpkin

Pumpkins

Pumpkin is so versatile, and depending what region of the world you come from will determine which form it is used.  When I grew up in Michigan in the United States, the pumpkin I remember eating was in pumpkin pie.  We carved pumpkins for Halloween and actually threw out the flesh!  As an adult living in Australia, I realised how much of a waste that was.  Luckily, my mother roasted the pumpkin seeds and we had those after the Halloween pumpkin jack-o-lantern was carved. At least then we received the health benefits from the pumpkin seeds.  Our family ate pumpkin pie traditionally at Thanksgiving and on Christmas.

I remember when I first moved to Australia, pumpkin was eaten as a savoury vegetable, namely in pumpkin soup.  It was also a favourite roasted vegetable that accompanied various meat roasts.  There were also pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones and pumpkin bread, that I hadn’t been exposed to before.  In Australia today, pumpkin is thriving in various recipes and I am happy to say that I enjoy the wide variety that pumpkin has to offer.  I still enjoy pumpkin pie too!

Pumpkin flesh contains vitamins C and E, magnesium, potassium and a staggering quantity and variety of carotenoids, being one of the most abundant natural sources of these amazing phytonutrients. There are numerous types of pumpkin in all shapes and sizes with many similar nutritional values.  Although pumpkin is a squash that’s best between late summer and autumn, canned or tin pumpkin is readily available year-round in the United States.  However, here in Australia we tend to puree our own from fresh pumpkin all year round. Pumpkin is also high in fibre with a one-half cup serving providing approximately 5 grams.

Powerful antioxidants known as carotenoids give pumpkin its superfood status. These compounds have the ability to ward off heart disease and cancer as well as certain eye-related diseases.

Pumpkin is packed with various nutrients and carotenoids, particularly alpha and beta carotene. Carotenoids are orange, yellow, and red colored, fat-soluble compounds occurring in a variety of plants.  Carotenoids represent one of the most widespread groups of naturally occurring pigments. These compounds are largely responsible for the red, yellow, and orange color of fruits and vegetables, and are also found in many dark green vegetables. Carotenoids help to protect you from free radicals, enhance cell-to-cell communication, and modulate your immune response. They also protect your skin and eyes from damage caused by ultra violet light.

Pumpkin is the highest source of alpha carotene, which may be even more powerful than beta carotene.  Pumpkin contains 400 percent of the recommended daily allowance of alpha carotene, along with close to 300 percent of beta carotene, and only 83 calories in a cup!
Alpha carotene and beta carotene have been tied with multiple health-promoting and disease-fighting benefits such as:
•    Reduces inflammatory arthritis
•    Decreases the risk of various cancers (breast, lung and colon)
•    Lowers the rate of heart disease

Canned or tin pumpkin puree, which is not the same as the canned pie filling, is cooked down in order to reduce the water content that is still present in a fresh pumpkin. Because of this condensation, canned pumpkin is actually more nutritious than fresh pumpkin!

In fact, it’s not just the inner meat of a pumpkin that’s virtuous but its seeds are super nutritious too and contain a wealth of health-promoting properties. Like melons, cucumber, and squash, pumpkins belong to the gourd family. They were much celebrated by Native American Indians who made use of their flesh and seeds for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Pumpkin seeds are a superfood that the American Native tribes prized for its culinary and medicinal value.

High in fiber and protein, these seeds are also a rich source of minerals including magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are believed to be beneficial for things like prostrate health, bones strength, and arthritis. Pumpkin seeds also contain compounds called phytosterols, which are believed to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol and also improve the body’s immune system.

Pumpkin seeds can now be readily found.  They are sold, raw, roasted, shelled, and unshelled. Pumpkin seeds are also known as pepitas, and they are dark green and flat with a chewy texture and rich nutty flavour. These seeds are dense in minerals, with just a quarter of a cup providing approximately half the daily recommended dose for magnesium and iron, in addition to high doses of zinc, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, manganese and copper. They also contain the amino acid tryptophan known for anti-depressant qualities, and essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids assist in improving mental function and aiding memory.

The dark green oil produced from pumpkin seeds has been used throughout history in India, Europe and America to fight parasites, aid the digestive tract and help with prostate and reproductive disorders. It has also been recommended for pregnant and lactating women because of its high content of essential fatty acids.

The essential fatty acids in pumpkin seeds are also necessary for prostate health, and zinc (which pumpkin seeds are especially high in) is great for the reproductive systems and has been shown to reduce prostate size, and have been found to help prevent against prostate gland enlargement.

So don’t delay – there are many ways to get the health benefits of pumpkin.  Here’s a recipe link for a good variety of ideas.