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THE DIET DETECTIVE

Pumpkins and seeds loaded with nutrients

Monday, October 15, 2012 - 12:01 am

Pumpkins

Pumpkins are great for a lot more than making jack-o'-lanterns. One cup of mashed pumpkin has only 49 calories and is loaded with vitamin A in the form of alpha- and beta-carotene. It also has close to 3 grams of fiber and 564 milligrams of potassium as well as vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, iron and zinc.

Pumpkin au Gratin

Healthy Recipe by DietDetective.com Staff. Serves 4.

6 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin

cooking spray

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed

3/4 cup shredded low-fat Swiss cheese

1/4 cup whole-grain flour

2 cups fat-free chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Fill large saucepot with water and bring to a boil. Add the pumpkin cubes and boil until soft, about 8 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Spray large pan with the cooking spray. Set the pan over medium heat, add the onion, and cook until lightly browned. Add the onion, spinach and cup of the cheese to the pumpkin. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish.

Combine the flour and broth in a pan and mix thoroughly. Set the pan over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Pour the broth mixture over the pumpkin mixture and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for half an hour. Season with the nutmeg and pepper and serve.

Nutritional Analysis (Per Serving): 196 calories; 3 g fat (1.8 g saturated); 34 g carbs; 12 g protein; 7.5 g dietary fiber.

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are loaded with protein as well as manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin K and zinc. Pumpkin seeds also have plant sterols that can help reduce the risk of heart disease, fight cancer, and have been linked to helping reduce the size of the prostate. And they are a fantastic source of omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Wash and dry the seeds, then toast them with garlic and onion powder and a bit of salt and pepper in a 300-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com.