Friday, November 23, 2012

Pumpkin Super vitamin A source

Made up of 85% carbs, 8 % protein 3% fat pumpkin is a forgotten about vegetable that kids will continually  turn their nose up at. But did you know that it keeps for up to 6 months, when whole and is really quite good for you. Not only is pumpkin loaded with a whopping  245 % of  the average person’s daily needs of Vitamin A, as well as antioxidant carotenoids, like alpha and beta-carotenes, it’s a fantastic source of vitamins C, (19% of daily needs) K, and E. Furthermore, it has lots of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and iron, riboflavin and fibre.
This is the perfect time of year to be eating a little more pumpkin.
To read more nutritional information here:

Pumpkin seeds (Pepitas)
Pumpkin seeds, called pepitas, are loaded with minerals, and seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Claims have been made that they also help protect against prostate cancer and osteoporosis. A quarter cup has about 1.5 grams of fibre.
Choose a pumpkin that feels heavy for its size and tap on it with your knuckles. It should sound woody. Stay away from the larger pumpkin, smaller and denser is better, in this case.
Pumpkins can keep for up to six months  in a cool, dry place. It may even help to put newspapers underneath to absorb any dampness. Once the pumpkin is cut it will only keep for a few days, but may keep for longer if you remove the seeds and stringy centre and leave open. ie: Do not wrap in glad wrap. Cooked, it’s fine in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
Basic Easy Cooking Techniques  from

For pumpkin puree: Remember, you heard it here first: You don’t need to cut the pumpkin open before you roast it. I’m not kidding. Just jab it with a knife once or twice to vent the steam, put the whole darned thing on a baking sheet, and pop it in the oven at 350 F for an hour or so, until you can easily stick a knife into it. (Once I had to leave in the middle of this, so I turned off the oven after 20 minutes, and when I came back several hours later it was perfectly cooked.) Cool, then scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff with a spoon, or pull it out with tongs. It is SO MUCH EASIER than when it is raw.
If you want chunks, you’ll have to cut into it raw (though I have wondered if “par-roasting” would work to make the skin easier to hack into). Or find a store where you can buy it already in chunks. Or beg the produce guy at your local market to do it. Explain that people (such as you) would gladly pay more if someone else had done the wrestling.
For the seeds, let them dry on paper towels, then oil and salt them (and any other seasonings you want) and slow roast them in a 250 F oven until they smell good – about 45 to 60 minutes. Stir them every 15 minutes or so.
Pumpkin plants The plant is a fast-growing vine, in my yard, self sows from the compost bin, creeping along the ground surface. It is one of the most popular field crops cultivated around the world, including the USA at the commercial-scale for its fruit, and seeds.
Pumpkins are readily available in the market year around. Buy well-grown whole pumpkin instead of sections. Look for mature product that features fine woody note on tapping, heavy in hand and dry, stout stem. Avoid the one with wrinkled surface, cuts and bruises.
Once at home, fully ripen pumpkin can be stored for many weeks at cool, well-ventilated place at room temperature. However, cut sections should be placed inside the refrigerator where it can keep well for a few days.
Ways to Eat Pumpkin
Pumpkin can be used in any squash recipe, but it has a depth of flavor that many other winter squashes don’t. Of course, we have to have pumpkin pie, and my low-carb pumpkin pie never fails to get raves.
Other than using it in the Roast Vegetable frittata and pie, you can use it in sweet recipes.
My favourites include: Pumpkin Scones and if you are in USA: Pumpkin Choc-chip muffins (pictured above)

I cup of mashed pumpkin
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon sugar
Beat these together, then add:
1 egg
pinch of salt
2 cups self-raising flour
Add enough milk, if needed to make a scone dough.
Roll out to 3/4 ” or 3 cm thick
Brush tops of scones with milk.
Bake in Hot Oven 250 degrees for 10 minutes

That is it. Hope you all ponder over this ....

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Is Christmas too Commercialized? Low cost gifts and Activities

Decorations are in the shops from August in some places, carols are playing over the speakers in shopping centres, and xmas comes earlier and becomes more commercialised every year.

Even kids are organized early these days. This appeared on my bedroom wall, posted by my daughter, several weeks ago. Just in case I was unsure of what exactly to buy for her for Xmas.  There is such expectations around gift giving now. Mind you, can't really blame the kid for trying, even if the follow through does not reach such dizzying heights.
Humbling was the child from one family, who when asked what they got from Santa, was overheard to say, ," ...A new lunchbox for school"  and did this pull at my heart strings?  Oh yes, indeed. Makes me think of some possible options for non material gifts, and low cost or free activities, that one can request and give for Christmas such as the ideas outlined below:
( These could be written on pretty gift cards, placed in a "surprize bag" and pulled out by each child/ adult as a kind of lucky dip)
* A warm and cosy evening/day spent doing whatever each child wishes, one on one, without disturbances from computer, phone, mobile phone or Ipod, Ipad etc etc.  It might be a board game, cocoa and a chat, playing games, like hide n seek, or pictionary/ monopoly.
* A walk or play on the beach, perhaps with the promise of ice cream afterwards.
* Rainforest hike
* If the kids are into books, a trip to the library.
* Building a cubby house, go cart, or raft together. This can be as complex or as simple as you like: the full wooden hammer and nails bit, or a large cardboard box.
* Sewing or embroidering a calico bag
* Making a card or memory album for Grandma
* Comstructing a year in my family chronicle to give out to family members at Xmas with recipes, funny stories, and photos.
* Making the Christmas cake/ lolly or cookie jars to give to others.
* Setting out tea light candles on your street and letterbox dropping others to do the same. We do this and call it 'Santa's highway'.
* A puppet show and stage presentation to family members
* A talent quest for family members with a Christmas theme (Prizes for everyone)
* Swimming or running races
* Trampoline competitions
* A Christmas themed movie or powerpoint presentation for Grandparents and/or extended family
There are plenty more ideas available on the net or in books, so these are just a few that came to me, off the top of my head. Believe me, this kind of experience stays in a child's memory for much longer than the short lived joy of getting a toy that will be forgotten in a few months time.
Feel free to add your own. Christmas need not be super expensive. Be creative and have fun, and still be giving a priceless gift that has the bonus of being environmentally friendly.
These activities will surely be Something kids will ponder about when they themselves, become parents.