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Food

Cucurbita Maxima: Our Common Pumpkin Teaches Us Maximization of Utility

Undoubtedly, the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve holidays contain many exaggerated elements. But as is usually the case with many celebrations, year by year, their true meaning – their roots – are become disconnected from the festivities. The real point of these special feasts was the giving and sharing with people who are in need. And we have lost those connections. But this year is different, so it would be good to celebrate differently, with more quality of actions and less quantity of possessions. In this time of quarantines, have you given thought to what do you really need for a celebration? Do you really need all that stuff in your house? All these clothes in your wardrobe? Do you need more ‘new stuff’ to buy online? This Years’ celebration will be just good food and good company. With just a simple dinner –unfortunately largely without parents and grandparents – comprised of two to three dishes and with as little food waste as possible. Share your food and unwanted belongings with people in need in your community. This year you must learn how to appreciate everything and waste nothing: moments, hugs, food, money. All these things will be precious in 2021.

Pumpkin is one special example of maximization of use and minimization of waste! The nutritional value of pumpkin is well-known: lots of vitamins with a huge percentage of vitamin A (for heart, lungs, kidneys), but also a good amount of vitamin C (for the immune system), calcium (for the bones), iron (for the blood), and magnesium. A good amount of vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ or the ‘happiness’ vitamin, helps the immune system and with depression.

The hidden secret of pumpkins is in the delicious flowers (lovely when stuffed with rice or feta) and the leaves which contain up to 5% protein! Also, pumpkins have a pharmaceutical power. Seeds are diuretic, tonic, and vermifuge. It also helps in prostate discomfort and relieves the bladder. The fruit pulp can be used as a soothing poultice on burns, inflammations, and boils.

Pumpkin has a delicious flavor like sweet potato. The seeds but also the flesh of the pumpkin can be dried, grounded, and used as a fine flour. You can use it like other cereals in bread, cakes, and other items to enhance the flavor of the recipe. My favorite pumpkin herbal soup is 1 medium pumpkin, 2 potatoes, 3-4 carrots, 1 onion, celery, garlic, turmeric, sumac, oregano, majoran, dried chilly pepper, and of course 4-5 tsp of extra virgin oil (after cooking). Just boil them with water and put everything in a blender, just like a hot smoothie. Serve hot in a bowl and add a spoon of Greek yogurt on the top with some Cretan dakos croutons! Thank nature for this little delicious miracle, the roof over your head and your good health!

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira is an Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication.

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