Christian Living


Harvesting Good Health

Girl with pumpkin at Halloween

Pumpkins provide one of the top three sources of beta-carotene in our diet. They also supply the richest dietary source of cancer fighting alpha-carotene and smaller amounts of lutein. Research shows that diets highest in alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein, which are called antioxidants (substances that inhibit oxidation in our bodies), have the lowest rates of cancer. Since pumpkins are rich in potassium, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin C, they also protect us against heart disease.

Even pumpkin seeds are healthy. These seeds are rich in beta-sitosterol, a potent cancer fighter that also lowers cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds contain a phytochemical (compounds found in plants that are not required for normal functioning of the body but that nonetheless have a beneficial effect on health or an active role in the improvement of  disease) called cucurbitacin that reduces the growth of prostate cancer. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in protein and minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Plus, they contain fiber and healthy fats. The combination of minerals, plant protein, and healthy fats also supports strong bones and prevents osteoporosis.

Here are a couple of fun recipes you can make with your family. When we make good health choices fun, the road to balanced fitness gets a little less bumpy. Enjoy!

Stuffed Mini-Pumpkins

(Thanks, Mary Carroll)

  • 4 miniature pumpkins
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup defatted stock

Baking the pumpkins first will tenderize the skin and flesh.

Slice 1 inch off top of pumpkins, leaving seeds intact. Cover large baking sheet with foil and place pumpkins, cut side down, on sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until you can easily insert a knife point in the side. Let cool. Then scoop out seeds.

Place pumpkins on baking sheet, cut side up.

In 10-inch skillet (I prefer stainless steel or cast iron), heat apple juice to bubbling over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not browned, 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, cranberries, rice, and stock. Stuff the mixture into pumpkin cavities.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Pumpkin Dip

(courtesy of the Dannon Institute)

Mix the following ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp pumpkin (canned or leftover fresh baked)
  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tbsp 100% orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

Dip in some graham crackers or salt-less pretzel sticks.

NOTE: Before beginning any new fitness program that requires a change in diet or exercise, it is recommended that you consult your physician for input. This informational series is not intended for medical or nutritional claims dependent on substantial clinical studies and FDA approval, and should not be construed as a claim for cure, treatment, or prevention of any disease.  It is intended solely for information and educational purposes. Linda is not a physician or expert in the medical field. She has been involved in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for numerous years. The information given in these sessions have been derived from  books and materials brought together over the years from many sources, including her personal life experiences.