11 interesting facts about pumpkins

It's that time of the year again! Time to start carving pumpkins and dressing up to scare, for it is Halloween.

Halloween is celebrated yearly in the month of October, mainly in western countries.

Kids will dress up and go trick-or-treating around their neighbourhood. During this celebration, pumpkins are not only ideal for decorations, but also in cooking.

Pumpkins are carved and used as lanterns and decorations. Carved pumpkins are called Jack-O'-Lanterns.

Pumpkins are rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, fibre, and low in calories.

Here are 11 facts you didn't know about pumpkins:

1. Pumpkin flowers and seeds are edible. So, instead of throwing away precious seeds, start roasting them and eat.They make a great healthy snack.

2. Pumpkins are 90 per cent water. This explains why pumpkins are low in calories and fat.

3. Back in the day, pumpkins were used as medicine. They were used to remove freckles and cure snake bites.

4. Pumpkins are, actually, a type of squash.

5. Pumpkins belong in the same family (Cucurbita family) as cucumbers, gourds and squashes.

6. There are more than 40 types of pumpkins around the world. They all vary in shape, colour and size. Some pumpkins are not even orange.

7. Pumpkins are fruits, not vegetables.

8. The tradition of pumpkin carving first started in Ireland.

9. There's actually no pumpkin in pumpkin spice. It only contains cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

10. Pumpkins can grow in every continent of the world, except Antarctica.

11. There is a type of pumpkin called "Cinderella" because of how much it resembles the one in the fairytale, Cinderella.

Craving for pumpkins? Here are two pumpkin recipes you can try:

1. Pumpkin treasure chest

Pumpkins are used in various cuisines, even in Chinese dishes such as the Pumpkin Treasure Chest. The pumpkin is served as an edible bowl with sauteed vegetables. This dish is nutritious, packed with flavours and easy to make.

This recipe is from Goo Chui Hoong's Lite Malaysian Favourites cookbook which is available for sale at www.at19culinary.com and major bookstores in Malaysia and Singapore.

Ingredients:

120 g young lotus root peeled and sliced

100 g sugar snap peas

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

100 g enoki mushroom

50 g cashew nuts toasted

1 tbsp cooking oil

2 cloves garlic

1 kg pumpkin small

Cooking method:

To prepare the pumpkin:

1. Cut off the top of the pumpkin. Scrape the seeds and inner membrane.

2. Steam the pumpkin on a steamer rack in a deep stockpot for 15-20 minutes or until cooked. The cooking time may vary depending on the size of the pumpkin.

3. Once cooked, put it aside to cool off.

To prepare the vegetables:

1. Remove the fibrous string that runs the length of the sides of the sugar snap peas.

2. Peel and slice lotus root and carrots into 0.2 mm thick pieces.

3. Cut off the root of the enoki mushroom and separate the bunch of mushrooms into single strands.

To cook the vegetables:

1. Heat the oil in a pan.

2. Add in the garlic and fry till fragrant.

3. Add in the lotus roots, peas, carrots and mushroom and leave to cook in a covered pan for 2 minutes.

4. Stir in the cashew nuts and turn off the heat.

5. Serve the vegetables in the pumpkin bowl.

2. Pumpkin and raisin bread rolls

Baking bread at home is not an impossible task even if you do not have a bread machine. If you love waking up to freshly baked bread, then this is the recipe for you. This bread is low in sugar because it is naturally sweeten by the pumpkin and raisins.

This recipe is from Goo Chui Hoong's Lite Malaysian Favourites cookbook which is available for sale at www.at19culinary.com and major bookstores in Malaysia and Singapore. Photo courtesy of Goo Chui Hoong.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup bread flour

1 cup wholemeal flour

3/4 cup wholegrain oats

150 g pumpkin steamed and mashed

2 tbsp cooking oil

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp instant dried yeast

150-200 ml water lukewarm

1/2 tsp salt

4 tbsp chia seeds

1/4 cup raisins

1 tbsp wholegrain oats

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp almond flakes

Cooking method:

To make the bread dough:

1. Put the flour, oats, pumpkin, oil, sugar, yeast and water into a heavy duty mixer.

2. Using a dough hook, knead the mixture for 5-10 minutes, or until it forms an elastic ball of dough. If you do not have a mixer, you can knead by hand for 10-15 minutes.

3. Add in the salt, chia seed and raisins and continue to knead the dough until they are well mixed.

4. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and leave the dough to proof for at least an hour in a warm place.

To shape the bread rolls:

1. Put the dough on a floured cutting board and divide them into 12 portions.

2. Roll each dough portion into long cylinder rolls and coil them up. Line a baking tray with silicon paper.

3. Arrange the bread rolls on the baking tray.

4. Cover the rolls with a damp kitchen towel and leave them to proof for at least another hour in a warm place.

To bake the bread rolls:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degree C for 10 minutes.

2. Put a tray of water at the bottom rack of the oven.

3. Spray the top of the rolls with some water and sprinkle the top with a mix of oat, chia seeds and almond flakes.

4. Bake the bread on the top rack for 15-20 minutes or until the bread turns golden brown.

5. Take the bread out to cool on a wire rack and serve.

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