3 reasons to eat more pumpkin

Boost the nutrition factor of your family's meals with this superfood

Andrew Grinton

It’s funny: Until recently, pumpkin occupied my mind’s dead zone when it came to cooking. It kept nice company with things like eggnog, cranberries and cinnamon hearts. Then I entered a phase when I became obsessed with using nutrient-dense ingredients to increase the nutritional value of meals. (You know that phase, right? It’s called parenthood.) And, voila, there was the wildly underused superfood staring me down, most notably from my doorstep where it would die a slow death as a jack-o’-lantern. I’d been on a sweet potato bender, throwing it into almost every recipe for its nutritional overload, so why not do the same with the palate-pleasing pumpkin? One of Ceri and my favourite creations is this pumpkin chili. A dish that falls under the category of “comfort” and “easy,” chili is a family classic. You can make a foundation with whatever floats your boat — ground beef, chicken or turkey, as well as veggies — and then fill it with other fixings your crew enjoys: carrots, chickpeas, celery, any bean, etc. We also love the versatility of chili recipes: Leave it mellow for tiny taste buds and spice up the adult portions. With its minimal prep and goof-proof cooking (slow cooker, anyone?), this is one meal you can count on to deliver. Plus, there are always leftovers. I believe if you’re a gambler that is called a trifecta.

Pumpkin’s great because:

1. Pumpkin is packed with vitamins A (a cup gives you more than your daily allowance) and C, which boost immunity and keep eyes, bones and teeth healthy.

2. The potassium found in pumpkin is vital to muscle and nerve functioning.

3. It’s a good source of dietary fibre. High-fibre foods slow the body’s absorption of sugar and regulate insulin response. Plus, fibre helps avoid dreaded constipation. 

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes

2 tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb (500 g) ground white-meat turkey
398 mL can diced tomatoes, with juice
398 mL can pumpkin purée
1 cup water
1 tbsp (15 mL) chili powder
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) turmeric
398 mL can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Directions:
In a large pot, warm the oil on medium-low heat. Add the garlic, onion and green pepper. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ground turkey and cook until browned. Pour in water, pumpkin, tomatoes, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Bring the heat down to medium low and then add the chickpeas. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with fresh bread and a dollop of sour cream.
Makes 8 servings.

In a serving: 280 calories, 20 g protein, 13 g fat, 23 g carbs, 8 g dietary fibre, 580 mg sodium

Former magazine editors Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh teamed up last year to start their blog focusing on “the never-ending story of the well-fed family.” They’ve since developed a cult following of fabulous, health-conscious parents looking to inject some fun and nutrition into their meals.

Visit sweetpotatochronicles.com for more recipes and advice on feeding your family (with a little fun and gossip thrown in).

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