Pumpkiny Pompoen

Squash. Even the name sounds discouraging.  Growing up, I remember my sister begging not to have to eat her portion of it. She especially hated the Surinamese kind – “pompoen”, a squash variety with a hard green and peach striped outside and an orange, pumpkin-like inside. Here in Suriname, it’s known as “pompoen” (not to be confused with the delicious dish called “pom”). Unlike my sister, I always loved it. Knowing that it’s one of the healthiest vegetables to eat, cheap, and readily available at local veggie stands in Suriname, I’ve become an even bigger fan. I’ve provided two of my favorite ways to prepare this healthy vegetable, my most recent being to serve it in chocolate cake.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C. These nutrients reduce age-related macula degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, fight harmful free radicals, encourage alkaline balance, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones.” (Disabled-World.com)

Chocolate Cake with Pompoen

• ½ a raw pompoen cut into approximately 1 inch blocks
• 1 box of chocolate cake mix
• Eggs (depends on what the cake box calls for)
• About 2 cups of boiling water (add more if needed to prevent the pompoen from burning)

Bring water to boil in a medium pot. Add the pompoen blocks and continue boiling, stirring occasionally until they are cooked and resemble a soft orange mush. Let the mixture cool and mix it in a blender to eliminate chunks. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box and replace the oil and water the cake mix calls for with equal measurements of the pompoen mixture. You and your guests shouldn’t even taste the difference! But let them know that your cake is low fat and healthy, except for the sugar, anyway.

Pompoen with Shrimp and Roti

1/3 pack of large frozen or fresh peeled and deveined shrimp (you can purchase these at Tulip or G-Sale Supermarket as well as other store locations)
Sunflower or olive oil
½ a raw pompoen cut into approximately 1 inch blocks
Diced onions
Diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. curry powder or tumeric powder
½ a cup of water
1 habanero pepper (not cut)
1 boullion block and/or salt
Some fresh cilantro, basil, or parsley for topping
Roti(s) – you can purchase these ready made at Fernandes Bakerij or frozen at well-assorted supermarkets

Sautee the onions, garlic, and tomatoes with the oil in a large pan. Add the curry powder, pompoen, and boullion block and/or salt. Cover the pan and let the vegetables sauté until they are cooked but still retain their shape (not mushy). Add the shrimp and pepper. Be careful not to let the pepper “pop” or release its seeds; your dish will be extra spicy.  Cover the pan again and allow the shrimp to cook thoroughly. Top with fresh basil, cilantro, or parsley per your taste. Serve hot and enjoy with warmed roti(s).

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