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posted: 10/31/2012 12:48 PM

Pumpkin adds color, flavor to chili

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  • Full of pumpkin, this is the perfect chili for cool fall evenings. Plus, this bright orange gourd is packed with disease-fighting nutrients.

      Full of pumpkin, this is the perfect chili for cool fall evenings. Plus, this bright orange gourd is packed with disease-fighting nutrients.
    Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post

 
By Elaine Gordon
Special to The Washington Post

Full of seasonal pumpkin, this is the perfect chili for cool fall evenings. It's slightly spicy, yet smooth and savory. The purée and orange peppers add beautiful color and are a great way to sneak in more vegetables.

Why add pumpkin to your chili?

Pumpkins are more than just for Halloween decorations. They are also edible, delicious and nutritious. When fresh pumpkin is not available, canned pumpkin can be a convenient alternative, saving lots of preparation time. When you see canned pumpkin purée in the grocery store, think beyond the traditional pie and explore more ways of adding this healthful gourd into your diet.

Pumpkin adds a velvety creaminess to chili. Plus, this bright orange gourd happens to be packed with disease-fighting nutrients:

• Calcium, which promotes bone health.

• Potassium, a mineral balancer and fluid regulator that also helps maintain normal blood pressure and might reduce your risk for bone loss.

• Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps block some of the damage caused by free radicals.

• Vitamin A from the carotenoids alpha- and beta-carotene, which could reduce your risk for certain cancers and heart disease. Vitamin A also fights off infections, protects against some of the degenerative aspects of aging and benefits your lungs, skin and eye health. Conveniently, canned pumpkin does keep most of its Vitamin A.

This hearty chili also contains extra heart-healthy fiber from the pumpkin, which aids in digestion and helps keep you feeling fuller longer, making it great for weight management.

Pumpkin really is a nutrition powerhouse -- something to remember when Halloween has come and gone.

• Elaine Gordon, a master of public health professional and a master certified health education specialist, is creator of the healthy recipe site Eating by Elaine.

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