It’s the season for warmed cider, brisk walks, falling leaves and the American tradition of Thanksgiving. One of my fondest memories growing up was diving into a large piece of my mom’s pumpkin pie topped with a generous helping of whipped cream. I reveled in its smooth texture and spicy flavor, complemented by the accents of sweetened condensed milk and sugary cream. Today, it’s one of my favorite desserts that I often request for birthdays, holidays and special occasions.
Grown on six of the seven continents, pumpkin plants are vegetables that produce an edible fruit that is commonly orange in color when ripe. A member of the Cucurbitaceae—or gourd—family, it has a long relationship with American history, frequently associated with the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving and considered a classic treat for fall.
This low-fat, low-sodium food is packed with potassium, vitamin A, and the antioxidants lutein, and alpha- and beta-carotene. Adding this healthy ingredient can reduce your risk of developing certain cancers and protect against heart disease. One cup of cooked pumpkin has only 80 calories. With its mild taste, pumpkins make great breads, soups, custards and butters.