By Val Wilson
Did you know pumpkin is technically a fruit? That is why most of the time, pumpkin is used in dessert recipes. However, the history of pumpkin shows that it was eaten more often as a savory dish. It originated in Central America a long time ago, about 7,500 years ago, and it looked and tasted very different. The ancient pumpkin was smaller, harder, and had a bitter taste, unlike the naturally sweet taste of them today. The first published recipe in the 1670s used pumpkin in a savory side dish, similar to a mashed sweet potato recipe. In the 1800s, women started challenging themselves to create unique and innovative ways to serve pumpkins, and that is when the pumpkin pies that we are most familiar with started to make their appearance.
The health benefits of pumpkins are enormous. Very high in fiber to help create healthy digestion, circulatory system, and for your heart. Pumpkin is very high in the antioxidant beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A can help strengthen your eyesight and help you see better in low light conditions, has anti-inflammatory properties, and can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer such as lung and prostate. The abundance of potassium in pumpkin can help maintain healthy blood pressure and lower your risk of strokes, kidney stones, and type 2 diabetes. Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, E, iron, and folate.
Pumpkin White Bean and Collard Greens Stew
1/2 onion (thin half moons)
4 cups pumpkin (cut in cubes)
1 turnip (cut in cubes)
6 medium collard green leaves (cut up)
2 (15 oz.) cans of white beans
1/2 cup water
2 T. tamari
2 T. brown rice vinegar
1 T. tahini
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1. Drain the cans of white beans and save the liquid. Use that bean liquid as part of the 1/2 cup of water for the recipe.
2. Put the onion, pumpkin, and turnip in a pot, each in its separate compartment.
3. Put the collard greens on top of the vegetables.
4. Add the 1/2 cup water and 2 T. brown rice vinegar to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until all vegetables are fork tender.
5. Add the 2 T. tamari, 1 T. tahini, sea salt, and white beans to the pot. Continue simmering for a couple of minutes. Turn off heat, mix all together and serve hot.
Chef Valerie Wilson offers virtual and in-person cooking classes. He is an author, personal chef, and counselor, been in business since 1997. www.macroval.com or Facebook MacroVal Food.