Honey glazed Pumpkin with raisins 蜂蜜南瓜 – authentic Chinese recipe (basic, simple, delicious and an idea to spice up kids’ five-a-day)

I had talked a little about this new food recipe in my previous post: http://obsessivenutritioncompulsive.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/maojia-%e6%af%9b%e5%ae%b6-maos-house-restaurant-what-would-mao-zedong-the-leader-of-the-chinese-cultural-evolution-eat/ regarding how easy it is to prepare and how nutritious and surprisingly addictive it is.

Most importantly, I believe that kids would love this recipe too. And getting kids, or even adult picky-eaters to eat vegetables is a constant battle for our modern society of obesity epidemics!

A sample model for what you can do with this basic recipe.
A sample model for what you can do with this basic recipe.

Right now, there aren’t many genuinely healthy Western recipes for pumpkins out there. The only recipes I’m familiar with are pumpkin soup (which sometimes can contain too excess calories from the cream, and can be troublesome to prepare) and roasted pumpkin (which is so boring it is as unpopular as dell computers sitting next to Macbook air).

This recipe is addictively yummy (and you’re about to find out why), super quick and easy to prepare, and incredibly nutrients packed.

Why is this recipe nutrients packed? That is because there are a whole lot of health foods that you can pack into this recipe and will go very well together (although if you are not of Asian descent, you may not be familiar with some of the tastes and the way some of the ingredients are cooked)

For example, as shown in the picture above – kidney beans (all sorts of beans are used extensively in Asian desserts i.e. mung beans, kidney beans, red adzuki beans, etc.). Other ingredients you can toss in along with the main ones include:

百合 lily bulbs (a Chinese herb which you will probably never find)

Red dates in place of raisins (for more “posh”)

*As shown in this “Braised pumpkin” dish at Mao jia Restaurant http://obsessivenutritioncompulsive.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/maojia-%e6%af%9b%e5%ae%b6-maos-house-restaurant-what-would-mao-zedong-the-leader-of-the-chinese-cultural-evolution-eat/

Braised pumpkin with red dates and 百合
Braised pumpkin with red dates and 百合

Any other beans you like to eat i.e. pinto beans, chickpeas, for flavor and texture.

All sorts of seeds/nuts i.e. flax seeds, almonds, walnuts, etc. for added crunch.

Corn (is pumpkin’s best mate, I tell you, along with kidney beans) or sweet peas.

Grains that actually have great texture and taste like pearl barley or job’s tear.

Cubed/sliced taro.

Not only will these ingredients be great for adding more tastes + textures + nutritional value, they will be the key to beautifying the dish, giving it more colour and according to the very reliable source which is me, kids loves to eat colourful/well-presented food.

For example, my little cousin feigned vomit over leftover whole-wheat pancakes in the fridge, while once glammed up by rearranging into the traditional ‘stack’ and poured on top with custard, chocolate sauce and garnished with colourful, bright red strawberries on top and around the plate, he immediately came running over, and as you know, promptly and very casually dug his index finger in like he owns it..

It’s a no-brainer, really.

 

Honey Pumpkin with raisins 蜂蜜南瓜 Recipe

servings 4

Pumpkin (any kind that you like)               4 cups, peeled and cubed

Raisins or red dates (jujubes)                      3/4 cup *since we are cooking with a steamer, there is no need for soaking.

Honey                                                                2 tbsp or adjust to taste

Salt                                                                     1 and 1/2 tsp

Pumpkin seeds (optional)                             1/4 cup

Method:

Put the peeled and cubed pumpkins and the raisins into a heatproof bowl. Toss this mixture with honey and salt. Steam on high heat until the pumpkin is just cooked, firm and not mushy. About 12-15 minutes.

Take the bowl out and allow to cool slightly before sprinkling pumpkin seeds (sunflower seeds would be a good idea too!) on top and tossing the mixture.

Now it is ready for serving!

Note: I have 2 suggestions you can do with this recipe:

1. If there are too much juice and water in the bowl, they can be used to create a delicious gravy topping by = heating this excess liquid in a pot until simmering, add a bit of healthy oil/butter, then add a bit of cornstarch to thicken this mixture up. Pour over the Honey glazed Pumpkin so the dish finally lives up to its name.

2. Drizzle a bit of oil on top of the finished product. This will 1. make this dish tastier to the pallate, and 2. make phytonutrients/vitamins that air oil-soluble contained within ingredients of this dish more bioavailable to the human system. Suggested oil – olive oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil. Or place a small cube of butter to melt into the middle. The kids will love it!

Where did I get the genius idea of adding pumpkin seeds in as a component of a pumpkin dish? This original secret recipe was born in a Norther Chinese’s university’s kitchen. Apparently de-seeding pumpkin is just too fancy for the food court.

I imagine the contrasting textures of crispy pumpkin seeds and soft, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkins will be more interesting to the taste buds of both the young and the not-so young.

Honey pumpkin at my canteen
Honey pumpkin at my canteen

They made the pumpkin quite mushy, which is alright by me since I have a weird thing for baby food-like food. There is faint honey flavor (they probably use the cheapest honey) which is mildly sugary sweet, and the raisins flavor shines through.

And here is a random snap shot of the other side dishes which I ate that day – a typical Chinese University student’s meal:

pumpkin
From the left: meat-filled pan-fried bun 肉饼, Honey pumpkin 蜂蜜南瓜, stir-fried mixed veggies with soybeans, soysauce tofu 酱豆腐, stir-fried potatoes and chicken, stir-fried soybean sprouts with tofu.

Every single side dish was packed full of flavor and nutrients i.e. soybeans with their amino acids and all sorts of minerals, green veggies filled with iron and antioxidants, beta-carotene brimmed pumpkins and potassium-dense potatoes. Also protein packed chicken and the unknown mixture of meat inside the meat-filled bun… providing some protein but mostly fat and I don’t know what else.

 

So, what are some of the nutrients your kids will be receiving with each serving of this Honey-glazed pumpkin? *calculation through commonsense, and old wive’s tales (just kidding)

Beta-carotene and vitamin A from the pumpkin which is great for your eyes and skin.

Iron found in raisins, this is great for the female blood circulatory systems, and is an essential mineral extremely important in keeping you feeling energized and wired-appearing as it helps carry oxygen to all sorts of your body parts.

Natural source of energy from the honey which as a bonus is filled with anti-bacterial properties (I recommend NZ Manuka honey, ah-hem) and also low GI i.e. longer lasting energy, and also from the fructose in raisins which might not be as long-lasting as honey, but still better than white sugar, and they come along in nutrients-dense packages.

Zinc and to a lesser amount, vitamin E in pumpkin seeds. Zinc can help ladies and males with long hair achieve glossy locks, and is vital in kids’ and teens’ growths. Will also hopefully help solve some brittle nails problem which can be especially frustrating if one enjoys getting expensive manicures.

Vitamin E is probably most essential for ladies in attaining clear skin, such as advertised by Smooth-E baby foam.

Fibre found in pumpkin (an E-normous amount, you can say the entire thing is a ball of fibre filled with orange liquid), and also large amounts found in raisins and pumpkin seeds. Not honey though, that would be weird (i.e. fibre-enriched honey…)

In addition to all these nutrients, if you elect to include some of the suggested ingredients above, you can revamp this dish into a rainbow of colors and a party of nutrients. For example, including kidney beans (as seen in sample picture) can provide an extra dosage of potassium and folate, corn and peas for additional phytonutrients, veggie vitamins and iron, and nuts and seeds as nutrients (and calories) dense side components.
There are an endless array of variations one can create with this simple and healthy pumpkin recipe.

 

In conclusion, I hope you enjoy the benefits of nutritional values packed in this dish, the taste, and the fact that your kids will finally get through a large portion of their 3 a day servings of veggies. I guarantee this.

– Izzy