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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


March 3, 2002 – This week's recipe offers a way to lighten up a Virgin Islands favorite — pumpkin fritters — in honor of March being National Nutrition Month.
Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures, yet maintaining good health is definitely something to be treasured. This year, the Nutrition Month theme is "Start today for a healthy tomorrow." This means that people of all ages benefit from making healthful eating, physical activity and lifestyle choices. Trying new foods and new ways of preparing old favorites can jump-start your plans for health.
The calabaza, or West Indian pumpkin, is round in shape and can range in size from as large as a watermelon to as small as a cantaloupe. Its skin varies from green to pale tan, while its flesh is a brilliant orange. Calabaza is most often found in cut pieces at local supermarkets or roadside stands. When buying these pieces, choose those that look fresh, moist and tightly grained with no signs of soft or wet spots.
Nutritionally, the calabaza excels. One cup cooked and mashed provides an excellent source of vitamin A and fair amounts of potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber, all for only 35 calories.
Tastewise, it is the sweet flavor of the calabaza that makes it excellent for making fritters. Notice that the recipe below calls for skim milk and cooking by skillet in a nonstick coating pan. These changes make fritters virtually fat-free, much different from the traditional variety.
Lightened-up Pumpkin Fritters
1 1/2 cups mashed West Indian pumpkin*
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
Non-stick coating spray
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, vanilla, baking powder, milk and flour; stir until ingredients are just combined. Do not use an electric mixer, and do not over-mix. Spray a nonstick skillet with coating. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto hot skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes on each side, then remove to a serving platter. Stir together 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over cooked fritters.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 140 calories, 0.3 gms fat (2 percent fat calories), 1 mg cholesterol, 128 mg sodium.
* To make mashed pumpkin from fresh: Remove seeds and stringy fibers from center cavity of a cut piece of pumpkin. Slice the piece into quarters. Place quarters in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 25 to 30 minutes until pumpkin flesh is fork tender. Drain water. Scoop out pumpkin flesh from outer shell. Mash flesh with a fork. One quarter of a medium-sized pumpkin yields approximately 1 1/2 cups of mashed pumpkin.

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