Kabocha, a Japanese variety of pumpkin, is one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables around.
They start to taste great in the fall, and keep on getting sweeter through the winter months.
In Japan, we have long believed that eating a sweet stew of adzuki and pumpkin helps prevent the common cold.
Pumpkins were originally introduced to Japan from Portugal, and nowadays they are available in many varieties, each with its own distinctive texture (although you’ll have trouble finding the variety used to make jack-o-lanterns in Japanese supermarkets).
A versatile ingredient, they work great in the main dish, as a side, or even in desserts. They are easy to grow at home, and store well so we can enjoy them all year round.
In fact, about 70 years ago, when Japan was suffering food shortages, kabocha stood in for rice as our staple food.
Full of beta-carotine - the nutritional hero
Rich in beta-carotine, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, and more, pumpkins are a nutritional powerhouse! Potassium is particularly valuable for lowering blood pressure, and the mineral calcium is essential for building bone and other tissues.
But the true nutritional hero in pumpkin is beta-carotine, a powerful antioxidant that boosts immune function.
Cooking beta-carotine with oil transforms it into vitamin A, making it easier for the body to absorb, which is why I have included oil in all the recipes given here.