Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Image result for pumpkin

"Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."  
                                                                                              --Jim Davis

Note to America's farmers:  Grow more squash.   One of fall’s favorite squashes is pumpkin, a nutrient dense food and indigenous to the Americas.  American Indians celebrated the power of pumpkins and other squash as one of the Three Sisters, along with the other two sisters, corn and beans.   Pumpkin is rich in potassium (higher than bananas), beta-carotene (which helps prevent cancer), dietary fiber, and vitamin A.  

Huber's Family Farm, Starlight, Indiana

Pumpkin is an incredible food source.  Pumpkin seeds, one of my favorite soup and salad toppings, are high in zinc and tryptophan, which our bodies convert to serotonin and can boost our moods. Lightly sauté seeds in a little olive or avocado oil over low heat, toss in a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt and smoked paprika.  Use as a topping for butternut squash, lentil, or split pea soup!   

Fall squash -- which one is YOUR favorite?

It's fall and we start thinking about our favorite pumpkin pie recipes.  This month you can perfect your mouth-watering family favorites in preparation for the Thanksgiving dinner in November. While most people stock up on canned pumpkin, there are lots of locally grown pie pumpkins available throughout the country.  My mother recently told me about all the work my grandmother, a farmer’s wife, used to go through to make fresh pumpkin pies.  This fall I plan to make several pies the old-fashioned way, just like my grandmother did.  In my experience, taking the extra steps to cook something from scratch ALWAYS makes food taste better.  When buying canned pumpkin, look for brands that contain only pumpkin. Pick up a couple of extra cans this month while it is on sale to use in December and January.

Pumpkin shopping at Huber's Family Farms in Starlight, Indiana

Look for small pumpkins at your local farmers market and buy several.*  Cut in half, scoop out the seeds (save to make roasted pumpkin seeds later) and roast in the oven.  Add a little orange juice to sweeten them naturally.   The nutritional benefits of pumpkin for your skin, eyes, immune and digestive systems are so good! 
In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*To find a farmers market near you, go to or click here.