It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that today is Halloween. It’s among the more bizarre of our ‘festivals’, you have to admit, and like many others it’s been taken over by the food industry pushing sugar on all and sundry, especially children. But I try not to be too po-faced about it all, as it is only once a year (as my children keep telling me).
I do like a well-carved pumpkin however, and there are some hilarious ones out there in cyberspace (Google ‘funny carved pumpkins’ if you don’t believe me). But it does seem wasteful to carve up a big pumpkin and then throw it away, particularly as pumpkin flesh is packed with beta-carotene, the carotenoid which gives pumpkins their distinctive colour. It’s a powerful antioxidant which may reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Studies show that women who consume the most carotenoid-rich foods reduce their risk of breast cancer by nearly 20%. The American Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume 3-6mg of beta-carotene each day (250g pumpkin contains 5mg) so it’s worth making use of that pumpkin once the trick or treating is done. I roast mine and make this hummus with pomegranates and walnuts. Pomegranates have fantastic immunity-boosting properties – ‘Super Immunity’ author Dr Joel Fuhrmann is a big fan (read more on immunity in our post here). They have been shown to inhibit some cancers, lower blood pressure, build bone mass, help kidney problems, empty the dishwasher, put the rubbish out…. And walnuts bring a lot to the party too: research at the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities found that mice fed a walnut-enriched diet had better cognitive functioning, and were protected from the effects of amyloid plaque, which builds up in the Alzheimers’ affected brain. More here http://iospress.metapress.com/content/n644184610325684/?issue=4&genre=article&spage=1397&issn=1387-2877&volume=42
PUMPKIN AND POMEGRANATE HUMMUS (serves 4)
1 pumpkin, or 400g roasted pumpkin flesh
100g walnuts, lightly toasted (reserve a few for decoration)
Juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 tsp pomegranate molasses, plus more to drizzle
Pomegranate seeds to garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Slice the pumpkin into thin wedges (I’m assuming you’ve removed the seeds already) – no need to peel. Lay the wedges out on a couple of baking sheets and roast for around 40 minutes, until very soft and easily pierced with a knife. When cooked, allow to cool for a bit then scrap the flesh into a food processor, discard the skin. Add the rest of the ingredients, starting with a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, then add more to taste. Season well with salt and pepper and blend. When completely smooth, scrap into a serving dish, drizzle with pomegranate molasses and sprinkle over the seeds and reserved walnuts. Serve with crudité – carrots to top up the beta carotene – or the pita chips from this recipe.
Happy – HEALTHY – Halloween!