LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -If you're a traditional Thanksgiving diner, you can expect to see at least one pumpkin dish on your holiday table - but then you forget about it for the rest of the year. Bet you didn't know, though, that pushing aside the pumpkins can mean you're missing out on a wide range of health benefits!
After the fall pumpkins are carved, these flavorful fruits seem to disappear from our tables and Shively Lampson with Pure Foods in Lake Charles says so do many unexpected nutritional benefits. "There's so many things you can do with pumpkins and they're so nutritious," says Lampson, "they're high in antioxidants, which helps fight the free radicals and they're also high in minerals, magnesium, iron and zinc - zinc helps support bone density."
Those little pumpkin seeds also pack a big healthy punch. "An ounce of pumpkin seeds is equal to seven grams of protein," says Lampson.
When you're in the kitchen, Lampson says it's the perfect time to unleash your creative juices with pumpkin recipes. While the traditional pumpkin pies are an easy go-to, she says desserts like a roasted pumpkin filled with applesauce can be a great heart-healthy addition to any meal. "Scoop out the seeds and you leave the pumpkin meat inside and then you put your applesauce in there and then you bake it at 350 for about 45 minutes," says Lampson.
Another popular pumpkin treat is a gluten-free scone with maple butter drizzled on top. Yum! Lampson says a warm pumpkin soup on a cold day will definitely put you in the holiday mood. "I choose to put it in the pumpkin shell and we'll put the croutons on top."
If refrigerated, Lampson says the pumpkin will stay fresh for three months - time well past the holiday season to enjoy all of its flavor and health benefits. "Whatever it takes for you to eat pumpkin, please do," says Lampson.
If not refrigerated, pumpkins still have a pretty good lifespan - one month of carving up whatever you dish you can imagine.
Here's a couple of healthy pumpkin recipes from Shively Lampson: