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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.
The fleshy interior can be baked, broiled and roasted to make a variety of tasty treats. Pumpkin seeds often are baked with a light coating of salt for an appetizing snack; they also are packed with fatty acids, potassium and magnesium. Start your day off right with homemade Health Spa Granola from Rio Caliente Hot Springs Spa and Nature Resort in Primavera, Mexico, which includes whole pumpkin seeds. At Carefree Resort & Villas in Carefree, Arizona, sample a Pumpkin Seed Bran Blueberry Muffin. Try a slice of Pumpkin Nut Bread with a cup of tea from Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. For dessert, dive into Chocolate Napoleon Sheets With Pumpkin Mousse at Miraval Life in Balance in Catalina, Arizona. See also Spiced Pumpkin Soup, courtesy of Chef Jesus Gonzalez at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico.
Packed with antioxidants, pumpkin helps to prevent free radical damage, as well as minimize fine lines and wrinkles. The Perfect Pumpkin Peeling Enzyme Masque, from June Jacobs Spa Collection, gently exfoliates dead skin cells and impurities, leaving smooth, cleansed skin. Éminence Organic Skin Care’s Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Pro Peel increases collagen production, and can be complemented by a cup of the company’s Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Tea. Apply Oatmeal Pumpkin Walnut Scrub, from HEAT Inc., to cleanse and exfoliate. Packed with salicylic and lactic acids, Rhonda Allison’s Pumpkin Cleanser deeply cleans the skin during dry winter months.