"Winter Hardy Vegetables? Nope, Fruit"
|Yes, we are a hardy bunch!|
So who are the Cucurbitas?
A unique family. The Cucurbita family comes in various shapes, sizes, and rich colors. Squash is mainly identified as a vegetable than a fruit. They are truly a fruit because they contain seeds of the plant. Squash are divided into two categories, summer and winter squashes. An example of summer squashes are zucchini and yellow squash. Summer squash skin and seeds are soft and edible verses winter squash has a thick hard skin and seeds. Gourds have extremely hard shell, inedible to eat, and mainly used as decorations. There are some gourds you are able to consume, such as, pumpkins. Pumpkins are usually recognized as being the pepo.
The Cucurbita family are:
- The squash
- The gourd
- The pumpkin
Therefore, divided into subcategories, such as, Cucurbita Moschata, Cucurbita Maxima, and Cucurbita Pepo.
Cucurbita Maxima - are frost intolerant annual plants. Winter squash - Acorn, Buttercup, Banana, Kabocha, and some Pumpkins.
|Acorn squash (Cucurbita Maxima) and Dumpling squash (Cucurbita Pepo)|
Found at Farmer's Markets
Cucurbita Pepo - Grows as long vines as annual plants. Summer and Winter squash - Zucchini, Marrow, Pumpkin, and Dumpling.
|Spaghetti squash (Cucurbita Pepo) at far left and various species of Pumpkins|
*not sure which kind of squash is in the middle
Found at Farmer's Markets
Cucurbita Moschata - Frost intolerant annual plants originated in Mexico and Central America. Pumpkin and Winter squash - Butternut, Winter Crookneck, and Cushaw.
|Butternut squash (Cucurbita Moschata)|
Found at Farmer's Market
So what are the health benefits of the Cucurbita family?
This family has excellent reasons for you to invite them into your home and bodies!
- An excellent source of Vitamin A.
- Beta carotene.
- Helps fights off cancer causing free radicals.
- Maintains heart, vision, and immune system.
- Controls cholesterol levels.
- Helps build strong bones and teeth.
- Anti-Diabetic and Insulin regulating properties.*
- Vitamin C.
- Fights off cataracts.
- Several B vitamins.
Here are some articles I found that can help give you a more in depth identification of how to recognize the members of the Cucurbita family and how to incorporate the family members in your diet.
In conclusion, we all need to open our minds and bodies to different families of foods to achieve optiumum health. In a world that is now adding toxins into our food supplies we must find alternative ways in finding out what is best for our bodies. Reading and learning is the best thing we can do for ourselves in achieving the knowledge that is out there at our fingertips.