Yep, it’s Halloween on Friday. Much as I dislike the aggressive commercialisation of all these festivals (I could not believe my eyes when I saw Oxford Street already lined with christmas lights on a warm day at the start of October), there is much to enjoy about Halloween’s traditions. When I think Halloween, I think pumpkins. Here are five fun facts for these familiar festive friends. Try saying that with your mouth open.
1. The main reason the shops are stacked with pumpkins at this time of year (aside from it being the end of their normal growing season), is of course to make lanterns. My efforts leave a lot to be desired, but the same cannot be said for these guys –> click here.
2. Like so many red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, the pumpkin’s unmistakeable colour tells you that it has a high content of carotenoids, which are converted in our bodies to vitamin A – a hero of a vitamin that deserves its place (albeit alphabetical) at the top of most micronutrient lists.
3. Pumpkins are a great source of fibre – anyone who has spent time shredding away that stringy flesh will back me up here. As I have mentioned many times before, fibre is an important component of our diet, for helping us to feel full, controlling blood sugar spikes, and maintaining good gastrointestinal health.
4. Pumpkin seeds are also nutritionally quite special. They contain a wide range of minerals and trace elements, including zinc (with its immune system functions) and magnesium (a key player in respiration reactions), as well as the plant based omega 3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
5. Pumpkin flesh can be baked, boiled, steamed, roasted or mashed. If left with something of a glut of pumpkin come November, a good idea is to cook and then mash the pumpkin, before storing in the freezer, ready for seasoning and adding to soups and, of course, pumpkin pie (after all, if we’re going to copy the USA in how enthusiastically we celebrate Halloween, we might as well adopt this delicious tradition too).
So have a great Halloween and good luck with the lantern carving. But remember not to throw away all that pumpkin flesh and seeds – they are a fantastic source of nutrients.