Bet it sounds familiar to you: You're standing in front of the vegetable shelf, wanting to buy a pumpkin - and don't have an overview. Which one tastes best? What can I use to make a creamy soup? And which one is the one that you don't have to peel at all?
Every year during pumpkin season we have to quickly remind ourselves which pumpkin we were so excited about last year. And then we can start: Creamy pumpkin soups, stews or curries are on the menu. And on Halloween pumpkins are carved like crazy.
The possibilities are endless. But before you know it, the delicious vegetables are gone again - and it's a shame to keep having to wait for October, isn't it?
This is exactly why we have integrated juicy Hokkaido pumpkin into our lentils à la Provence. In this way, you not only have access to valuable vitamins, fiber and minerals during the pumpkin season, but around the clock. And so that you can reach for Hokkaido the next time you go shopping, we will explain to you today what exactly makes it so desirable...
What actually is Hokkaido?
There are a total of 800 different types of pumpkins in the world. It's no wonder that one can sometimes lose the overview...
Among other things, the Hokkaido is characterized by its mild-sweet, nutty taste, which harmonises perfectly with the intense spices. Equally characteristic is its bright orange shell and light weight (approx. 0.5kg - 2kg).
Although it has only been sold in Germany since the 1990s, the history of Hokkaido goes back quite a bit: it was already being cultivated in Japan at the end of the 19th century - mind you on the Hokkaido island of the same name. In 1878, American agricultural consultants had brought the first pumpkin from America to Japan. However, the pumpkin of that time had nothing in common with today's Hokkaido, as it was hard and tasteless. Little by little it became the Hokkaido we know today: intense, soft, nutty. The Japanese name for the pumpkin is "Kuri aji", which translates to "chestnut flavor".
The Hokkaido pumpkin is a relative of melons and cucumbers and is counted among the berries. Unlike most pumpkin varieties, you can even eat the skin with it. Don't feel like peeling? No problem!
In addition, babies and toddlers like it because of its sweet taste, it is easy to puree and is perfect for creamy soups or risottos.
And it's not just its consistency and taste that inspire - the nutritional values are also impressive.
How healthy is Hokkaido?
Are you still looking for a reason to try a pumpkin dish? May we present:
Most squash are low in calories and carbohydrates, making them perfect for a low-carb diet. So there are only about 65 calories and about 5 g of carbohydrates per 100 g in Hokkaido. The protein content is 1.7 g / 100 g, the fat content is 0.5 g / 100 g.*
In contrast to other pumpkin varieties, the Hokkaido also contains relatively little water. Nevertheless, it has a slightly draining effect, as its minerals stimulate our kidney and bladder activity. Another advantage of the high potassium content (490 mg / 100 g): it ensures that our nerve impulses are transmitted, can lower blood pressure and even prevent the risk of stroke.
As if that weren't enough, when you eat 100 g Hokkaido you can also expect a full load of vitamin C: With 30 mg / 100 g you cover about a third of your daily vitamin C requirement - and automatically ensure that you build up your connective tissue , Bone and tooth structure supported. The vitamin is also an antioxidant that binds harmful substances in the body and renders them harmless.
Just as useful for us: The 0.58 mg / 100 g of beta-carotene. This is a precursor of vitamin A, which also acts as an antioxidant in the body and captures free radicals. Beta-carotene can also double or even triple our iron absorption and is responsible for Hokkaido's bright orange color. If necessary, it is converted into vitamin A. This in turn supports our protein and fat metabolism, the hormone balance, the nervous system and the immune system.
When it comes to dietary fiber, the Hokkaido can't keep up with our legumes, but it takes a top spot among the pumpkins: 2.3g/100g dietary fiber. Since it also contains little sugar and no acid, it is extremely easy to digest and very digestible even for people with a sensitive stomach.
Digression: Which pumpkin varieties are there?
- Butternut Squash: It is pear-shaped, tastes slightly buttery and nutty, and is light yellow in color. Like the Hokkaido, it also contains many healthy minerals (e.g. potassium, magnesium), but only around 40 calories per 100 g. Because of its elongated shape, you can also fill it with other vegetables. How about stuffed butternut from the oven, for example? If you prefer to puree it, make sure that the skin doesn't get quite as soft as with Hokkaido. It can be eaten, but pieces of shell in butternut soup are unfortunately not uncommon.
- Nutmeg pumpkin: It tastes intensely of nutmeg and can serve as the basis for many different dishes. You can recognize it by its ribbed skin, which can be either dark green, orange or light brown depending on the degree of ripeness. It usually tastes best when it is not quite ripe and the skin is still green. It also does not skimp on minerals and contains, among other things, potassium, calcium and zinc as well as various vitamins.
- Spaghetti squash: Even if the name suggests otherwise - no, the spaghetti squash does not come from Italy, but also from Japan. Since its pulp breaks down into fine, spaghetti-like threads when it is cooked, it is more similar to the popular pasta, but with only 25 calories per 100 g. In general, spaghetti squash mainly contains water, but its magnesium content is also impressive: 11 mg per 100 g. Due to its potassium, it also stimulates kidney and bladder function and can gently drain the body.
How to cook Hokkaido
If you don't eat Hokkaido (for once...) in our lentils à la Provence, you can easily prepare it yourself: wash it thoroughly and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
- Boil: Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the pieces. Let the whole thing simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the Hokkaido has softened. So it's great as a side dish. Would you rather have soup? Then simply puree it, add some (vegan) cream and season properly.
- in the oven: Drizzle some olive oil and spices over the Hokkaido wedges. Then put them in the oven and let it bake for about 25 minutes at 200 degrees.
Incidentally, pumpkins that have not yet been prepared can be stored for up to eight weeks! Prerequisite: The stalk must still be intact and firmly anchored in the pulp. So you can still enjoy the winter vegetables even after the pumpkin season is over. However, if you have already cut the Hokkaido, it will keep in the fridge for a maximum of four days.
Another tip: save the hokkaido kernels, soak them in water overnight and wash them again. Then you can mix them in a bowl with olive oil and salt, put them in the oven for 25 minutes and voilà - your delicious and incredibly healthy snack is ready! Pumpkin seeds are not only a good source of protein (35 g protein / 100 g, source: farewell to vegan clichés, p. 36), they also provide you with iron (12.5 mg / 100 g) and magnesium (262 mg / 100 g) .
That just calls for a Hokkaido the next time you go shopping, doesn't it? Unless you happen to have a serving of Lentils à la Provence at home that not only contains Hokkaido... but also a full load of protein and fibre! Soft Hokkaido meets lentils, potatoes and French spices… Is this that “La Belle Vie” everyone is talking about?