Autumn has arrived and with it, an abundance of pumpkins and squash. Not only are these fruits a beautiful reminder of fall and great for decorating, they are also good for your health. Although not all pumpkins and gourds are made for eating, many are and they can make a great addition to your autumn diet. A healthy diet is an important part of maintaining good health, which is why Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina encourages members to be proactive and eat right. This fall, you can make pumpkins a part of your preventive care maintenance by incorporating them into some of your recipes.
Especially good in soups and stews, pumpkins and squash are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, especially Vitamins A, C and E. They are also rich in dietary fiber and boast an abundance of carotenes, while still being low in calories. They have zero saturated fat and no cholesterol and are a great part of a low-cholesterol diet in need of some hearty, robust flavors.
Here is a basic guide to some popular pumpkins and squash:
Field Pumpkin: This is your basic jack-o-lantern pumpkin and although great for Halloween and fall decorating, it’s not really for eating. As anyone who’s ever carved a pumpkin knows, this one has very stringy flesh which isn’t very appetizing. The seeds, however, are excellent for roasting and are a great source of fiber and protein.
Spaghetti Squash: One of my favorites, the flesh of this squash separates into strands so that it can be served like pasta. With the look and feel of angel-hair, this squash is a healthy, low-calorie, gluten-free substitute for regular spaghetti. Served with the right sauce, you will hardly know the difference and my kids will gobble this up as easily as any pasta noodles I could serve.
Acorn Squash: More like a regular yellow squash, the acorn squash has a fibrous, rather bland tasting flesh so it will require lots of seasoning. This one is great for stews or soups as it soaks up flavors and you can eat the skin, making it an easy addition. Just cut the squash into bite-size squares and add to your favorite recipes.
Butternut Squash: This one is sure to please even the pickiest eaters. It’s full of sweet, earthy flavors and is delicious with butter or brown sugar. You can remove the skin with a vegetable peeler or cut the squash in half and bake it with the skin still on. Just scoop out the flesh and eat it like a baked potato!
Cheese Pumpkin: A shorter, rounder version of the field pumpkin, this one gets its name because it looks like a wheel of cheese. It’s especially sweet and perfect for pumpkin pie. Because of its shape, the cheese pumpkin also makes a great centerpiece for your fall table.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina supports preventive care, which is why it is always covered at 100%. In addition to regular check-ups, however, maintaining a healthy diet can make a world of difference to your overall health and well-being. This fall, add some pumpkin and squash to your diet and enjoy what autumn has to offer!
Before starting any diet or weight loss program, always consult your doctor first and get his/her clearance for physical activity and find out if there are any issues that would affect you beginning a new nutrition or fitness program.
For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents. Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.