DIY pumpkin nutraceutical

By Sari Huhtala

This past winter a neighbour called to see if I had any pumpkin seed powder. I didn’t, but I thought to myself, why am I not making my own insanely nutritious, ridiculously easy, free pumpkin seed powder and pumpkin flesh powder out of the pumpkins in my cold cellar?

Instead, I’ve just been roasting the seeds or chewing them dehydrated as raw food, which requires a stockpile of dental floss and toothpicks, and making pumpkin soup every week this winter. So, I did make my own pumpkin seed powder, and I realized it’s super easy and a fabulous way to add amazing nutrition to meals. Researchers have even found pumpkin flesh and seeds can prevent several types of cancer, treat diabetes, prevent oxidative damage to brain cells, is a natural anti-depressant, prevent liver disease, lower cholesterol, help with heart disease, and more. There are even health benefits found in pumpkin skin and leaves.

Pumpkin seeds are so fabulous they earned a reputation as having “fascinating nutraceutical qualities,” by researchers studying their health benefits.

“The elements zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and selenium found in pumpkin seeds make them a nutritional powerhouse and a weapon in the battle against illnesses, including arthritis, inflammation, prostate cancer, etc.,” according to a 2022 Plants scientific journal article.

Antioxidant-rich pumpkin seeds have a “high content of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, ECN-44, ECN-46, tocopherols, ß-sitosterol, and delta-7-sterols constitute a large quantity of pumpkin seed oil,” the study Nutritional Value, Phytochemical Potential and Therapeutic Benefits of Pumpkin found.

Pumpkin seed oil has been found to “treat Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Acinetobacter baumannii, Candida albicans, and Serratia marcescens,” the study noted.

Delving deeper into the nutraceutical cucurbita (aka pumpkin), I asked myself why am I not making pumpkin powder out of the flesh and adding it to meals? So, I did.

The pulp is brimming with phytosterols and phytonutrients.

In Mexico and China they treat patients with type 2 diabetes with herbal medicine containing pumpkin. Why? Because pumpkin as a nutraceutical works, and doesn’t have any adverse side effects. It is safe to eat daily without any consequence to human health – unlike chemical drugs, the study discovered.

In the mid 1800s the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, the official government compendium of drug information for the U.S., added pumpkin seeds as an official medicine for parasite treatment.

It managed to successfully remain as a medical treat for intestinal parasites and as an official medicine until oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller decided holistic medicine has no place in the business of health, so it was removed in 1936.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the minerals found in parts of the pumpkin, according to the study, which reviewed over 150 scientific research findings on the plant as medicine.

One third of a cup of pumpkin seeds has 190 mg of magnesium, 397 mg of phosphorous, 260 mg of potassium, 2.5 mg of zinc, 2.8 mg of iron and 14.8 mg of calcium.

On third of a cup of pumpkin puree has 12 mg of magnesium, 340 mg of potassium, 44 grams of phosphorous, 0.3 mg of zinc, 0.8 mg of iron, 21 mg of calcium.

One third of a cup of pumpkin peel has 4 mg of iron, 687 mg of potassium, 3.3 mg of magnesium, 1.4 mg of phosphorous, 1.3 mg of calcium and 0.1 mg of zinc.

Planning your garden for this year? Think powerhouse pumpkin.

DIY pumpkin seed powder

Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and separate any stringy flesh from the seeds. Rinse under water to remove flesh residue. Dry with a towel then scatter onto a plate or tray. Let air dry for about a week. I just leave them on top of my fridge to dry. Once dry, toss them into a blender or compact blender and grind into pumpkin seed powder. Store in a sealed container and sprinkle onto breakfast bowls, or prepared foods for a nutritional boost.

DIY pumpkin powder

Wash your pumpkin. Cut in half or in quarters and remove the seeds and stringy flesh with a spoon. Place a rack on top of a pan and place the pumpkin pieces facing down on the rack so that excess juices drip onto the pan while baking. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the flesh goes in with ease. Once baked, let cool then scoop out the flesh into a bowl. You can either mash the flesh with a potato masher or place in a blender and turn it into a pumpkin puree. Spread the puree on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet and bake at the lowest possible temperature in your oven until no moisture exists, several hours, and it is easy to crumble.

Or, use a dehydrator at no more than 105 degrees to avoid losing any more nutrients.

Toss your dehydrated pumpkin into a blender or grinder and blend until it is in a powder form. Add to anything you wish to add a nutritional boost to.  

PS. You can even dehydrate the pumpkin peel in the same say and use it as a nutraceutical.

Click here the full study on the health benefits of pumpkin.

(This information is not intended to replace medical advice and treatment from a health care practitioner).

Sari Huhtala is the creator, publisher and editor of Alive and Fit Magazine, which was created in 2007.  She has over 25 years of experience in journalism and over 15 years of experience as a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, and is a holistic chef, offering holistic cooking and edible wilds workshops. She is an organic farmer, wild-crafter and grandmother, who has spent over 20 years navigating a holistic, healthy path for her family. Reach her at friends@thelaughingforest.ca 

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