Pumpkin is very low in carbs and can be used to replace some of the flour and starch in traditional recipes because it is so high in fiber. It is also a terrific sub for potatoes and yams in our Fall and Winter menus. I have missed being able to make some of my favorite pumpkin recipes while recovering from vitamin A toxicity. See my post about the “Scariest Vegetable,”* but I found a solution: white pumpkin varieties contain little or no vitamin A. However, some of the white ones at the supermarket may be orange inside and you won’t know for sure until you cut into them.
Last year, I found one called Blanco at a local produce market that was totally white and made a wonderful white pumpkin pie with it. link! (Any white winter squash would work as well—there is even a variety of acorn squash called “mashed potato!”) This year, we grew our own Blanco pumpkins, as well as two kinds of white tomatoes. Alas, our weather did not cooperate; we were late getting the seedlings in the ground because it was too cold, but we also had some record-breaking heat: It was 111 degrees F, recorded in late June on our back deck, northeast of Seattle!
Our electricity had been out for two days when I started this post and I could only use my computer thanks to our propane-powered generator. We had what the news reports called a “Bomb Cyclone.” “Heat Dome” and “Bomb Cyclone” have recently been added to my weather vocabulary. A heat dome incinerated the entire town of Lytton in British Colombia on June 29th. The temperature reached an astonishing 121 degrees! In CANADA! Climate Change deniers take note. An entire Canadian town is up in flames after temperatures soared to a record-breaking 121 degrees Fahrenheit (yahoo.com)
As you can see in the picture below, even planting the Blanco variety did not guarantee truly white pumpkins. (One yellow, one white growing on the SAME VINE!) We did get a few pumpkins to ripen, six total, counting the yellow one.
And all my white tomatoes turned out to be yellow. It clearly has something to do with weather.**(See Notes.) Dean enjoyed them.
See below for a sampling of my best pumpkin recipes that I’ll be making with my new white pumpkins. (Any pumpkin or winter squash should work as well for those who have no issues with vitamin A and no autoimmune conditions.) I hope to have enough to puree and freeze or can some for later. My fingers are crossed that they are not orange inside; otherwise, I’ll be serving up some yummy pumpkin dishes to other family members and guests, but none for me.
PUMPKIN SPICE BISCUITS
Click for recipe for Pumpkin Spice Biscuits.
PUMPKIN TAMALES AND PUMPKIN PANCAKES
Click for Recipe for Low Carb Pumpkin Tamales and Pumpkin Tamale Pancakes.
Updated Nutrition Facts for plain pumpkin tamales:
Calories: 100.7; Fat: 8g; Protein: 1.3g; Total Carb: 6.5g; Fiber: 1g; Net Carb: 5.5g; Vitamin A retinol activity equivalent (RAE): 206 mcgs. If made with white pumpkin and coconut oil instead of butter and orange pumpkin, the RAE will be close to ZERO.
Variation: DESSERT PUMPKIN TAMALES
Make Pumpkin Tamale dough, but omit the chilies, and add alternative sweetener equal to ½ cup of sugar. Fill tamales with 2 teaspoons of sugar-free jam, drained low-carb cranberry sauce, or low-carb mincemeat. Make as directed in tamale recipe. Serve hot.
WHITE PUMPKIN PIE
Click for recipe for White Pumpkin Pie and How to Prepare Pumpkin Puree.
PUMPKIN PIE and HOW TO PREPARE PUMPKIN PUREE
Click for recipe for Pumpkin Pie.
GINGER PUMPKIN PUREE
This delightful side dish can be made with items from the pantry or freezer whenever you need a quick side. It is especially nice as an accompaniment for ham, turkey, or pork. You can make it with any winter squash or pumpkin. I used white pumpkin.
16 ounces (2 cups) cooked, pureed pumpkin or 1 can or white pumpkin puree for low-A
6 ounces coconut milk or 1 small can
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
Sugar substitute equal to ¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon black strap molasses or use a brown sugar substitute, such as Lakanto Golden as the ¼ cup of sweetener above
2½ teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
Dash of black pepper or to taste
1 egg, beaten with a fork, optional for thicker consistency. (Omit for dairy-free and low-vitamin A version.)
Garnish with a pat of butter, optional (Omit for dairy-free and low vitamin A version.)
Mix pumpkin with coconut milk, butter, sweeteners, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in beaten egg, if using.
Place in a medium saucepan and set over low heat. Cook, stirring, until heated through and thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve hot as a side dish.
Makes 5 servings of a little over ½ cup.
Calories: 149; Protein: 1.3g; Fat: 11.8g; Carbs: 10.2g: Fiber: 2.8g; Net Carbs: 7.4g; Vitamin A RAE (retinol activity equivalent): 1,000.3 mcgs with orange pumpkin but without optional egg and butter. It will be close to zero with white pumpkin.
FAUX CANDIED YAMS (Candied Pumpkin)
My family always looked forward to having candied yams, made by my mother’s recipe, for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I switched to a sugar-free version and made them with white sweet potatoes, but they still had too much sugar. You can hardly tell the difference if you use pumpkin instead, but there is a big difference in the nutrition.
1 fresh pie pumpkin (about 1½ pounds)
4 tablespoons butter (½ stick), ghee, or coconut oil
2 slices lemon with peel (about ¼ of a small lemon)
Granular sugar substitute equal to ½ cup of sugar
½ teaspoon ground Ceylon (True) cinnamon
A pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar-free simple syrup or use ¼ cup of water and increase the sweetener to ¾ cup
Cut the pumpkin in half, scrape out the seeds and fibers, and cut it into pieces. (A serrated grapefruit spoon makes a handy tool for removing the seeds and strings of pumpkin or squash.)
Pare the pieces with a vegetable peeler and cut into ½-inch by 3-inch slices, similar in size to fat french fries.
Melt the butter in a skillet and add the pumpkin. Squeeze the lemon slices over the pumpkin, and then drop them into the pan. Mix the sweetener with the cinnamon and salt and sprinkle over the pumpkin. Add the syrup or water. Cook, stirring and basting with the pan liquid, over medium heat until the pumpkin is tender and starting to brown and caramelize. Add more water if necessary. It will take about 20 to 25 minutes.
Makes about 8 servings.
Calories: 88.3; Fat: 5.9g; Carbs: 9.2g; Fiber: 2.1g; Net Carbs: 7.1g, Protein: 1.4g; Vitamin A retinol activity equivalent (RAE) 577.4 mgs; If using white pumpkin and coconut oil instead of butter, the RAE will be close to zero.
Spoon it up from a big glass bowl or mound it into pretty stemmed glasses for a festive dessert.
1 teaspoon of gelatin
2 tablespoons of water
1 cup of heavy cream, Greek yogurt, or non-dairy yogurt
Powdered or liquid sweetener equal to 3 tablespoons of sugar, or to taste if using yogurt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
¼ cup pumpkin puree or white pumpkin puree for low A
½ teaspoon of Ceylon (True) cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of ginger
⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg
A dash of powdered cloves
Soften gelatin in water for a few minutes then heat just until melted. Let it cool until it is warm but still liquid.
Beat the cream, if using, with the sweetener and vanilla on high speed until it starts to thicken, then switch to low; whip just until it forms soft peaks. Use yogurt without beating for non-dairy and low-vitamin A. Add the softened gelatin and whisk in. (The gelatin needs to be slightly warm or the cold cream will solidify it before it is blended.) Add pumpkin puree and spices and gently fold in. Chill.
Top with sugar-free Whipped Cream or Coconut Whipped Cream and chopped pecans, if desired.
Makes about 2 cups or 4 Servings
Calories: 211; Fat :21.5g; Carbs: 3.3g; Fiber: 0.6g; Net Carbs: 2.7g; Protein: 2.3g; Vitamin A (RAE): 244.6 mcgs
If using white pumpkin and non-dairy yogurt, the vitamin A retinol activity equivalent RAE will be close to zero.
For recipes for Faux French Fries and Faux Potato Chips made from pumpkin, click here.
*1. Vitamin A toxicity:
According to this government study, “Emerging evidence suggests that sub-toxicity without clinical signs of toxicity may be a growing concern, because intake from preformed sources of vitamin A often exceeds the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for adults, especially in developed countries. Osteoporosis and hip fracture are associated with preformed vitamin A intakes that are only twice the current RDA…” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16469975
One 3-ounce serving of beef liver contains 21,915 IUs (international units) of vitamin A or 438 times the RDA. The RDA for vitamin A is 700 IUs for women, 900 for men. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3470/2
**2. How to keep vegetables white
Growers protect cauliflower, asparagus, and endive from sunlight when they want to keep them snow white. Next time, I will try shielding my pumpkins and tomatoes to see if it prevents them from turning yellow. (It would be hard to cover individual cherry tomatoes, so maybe the beefsteak variety would be a better bet.)
3. Pumpkin Spice
“Pumpkin Spice” refers to the spices traditionally used with pumpkin: cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, and sometimes allspice. Many things billed as Pumpkin Spice don’t contain pumpkin at all. (Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte, launched in 2004, didn’t contain pumpkin until 2015.) You could indulge in many items labeled as “pumpkin spice,” like lattes, popcorn, apple cider, Hershey’s kisses, M&M’s candy, potato chips, and even Bud’s Light beer, without getting an overload of vitamin A. As long as you use Ceylon cinnamon or a water extract of cassia cinnamon, you won’t need to fret about coumarin toxicity either.
If you do go overboard on vitamin A or cassia, perhaps a few weeks of avoidance after the holidays would be a good practice to give your liver time to recover; many drinkers swear off alcohol for the month of January for the same reason. Of course, if you are already toxic, as one-third of us are according to this study, total abstinence is the fastest way to recover.
The term “Dry January” was registered as a trademark by the charity Alcohol Concern in mid-2014; Nicole Brodeur, of The Seattle Times, popularized the term when she wrote a column about trying it in 2015. Let it pour: Dry January hit a nerve | The Seattle Times Drs. Mary Dan and Michael Eades have written that they observe the practice every year.
4. Masa Harina
Masa harina is flour made from white or yellow corn that has been treated with lye to separate the tough hulls and the germ from the kernels, a process called nixtamalization, the source of the word “tamale.” The corn is puffed similar to popcorn, which increases the volume and lowers the carbs. It does not contain vitamin A, even when it is made from yellow corn, unless it has been fortified.
I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. If you believe you have a health problem, consult a medical practitioner.
I am not an affiliate of any company and do not receive a commission on product sales.
© Judy Barnes Baker, 2021