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Baked Pumpkin Buns with Cinnamon Pumpkin Filling

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Chinese buns (baozi or mantou) typically are small bread or bread roll that can be either sweet or savoury and most common methods of cooking these buns are steamed, baked or even deep fried. The resulting bread dough is usually light and fluffy. There are myriad types of buns with different types of sweet or savoury flavours and fillings according to personal creativity and preferences in taste. These Chinese buns can be stuffed with meat or vegetarian and/or vegan options. They are perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea, snack, dessert or even as a meal by itself. My inspiration for this baked pumpkin buns came from the popular Chinese steamed pumpkin buns (mantou). There is also another popular Chinese restaurant version of deep fried pumpkin buns filled with red bean paste filling. For my gluten free recipe, I have made my own soy free bread dough mix with added mashed pumpkin and these buns are stuffed with cinnamon pumpkin filling, resulting in an aromatic, soft and delicious buns. Most ready made gluten free bread flour mix have soy flour in them. This recipe is also vegan, dairy free, soy free, nut free, egg free, refined sugar free and allergy friendly.

Pumpkins belong to the genre of plants known as Cucurbita with lengthy sprawling stems. These plants also include squashes and marrows. Pumpkins originated from North America. The seeds from similar plants were found in Mexico all the way back in 7000 to 5500 B.C. Pumpkins are very handy food ingredients in many different types of cuisines all around the world. They can be featured in soups, salads, jam or preserves, desserts and even as an alternative to butter or oil in baking. Almost the whole of the pumpkins can be eaten, including the flesh, seeds, flowers and leaves. Pumpkins are also a popular food staple and ornaments during Halloween and Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada.

Pumpkins are bursting with powerful nutritional values, not only rich in dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, it is a fantastic source of protein for vegetarians and vegans and has very low calories. They also comprise beta and alpha carotene which provide them their colour and are an exceptional source of essential minerals and vitamins. Pumpkins are excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C. A good source of vitamin E, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese. They also contain small amounts of other essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid/folate, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B3 (niacin), magnesium, iron and phosphorus. Pumpkin kernels/seeds (also called pepitas seeds) are also robust sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. They are an exceptional source of iron and zinc and also a good source of selenium and vitamin B3 (niacin). In addition, these pumpkin seeds are a superb source of health promoting essential amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan assists in controlling mood with naturally soothing outcomes, promotes sleep and ease anxiety. Health benefits of pumpkin include: help regulate blood pressure; may reduce risks associated with cardiovascular disease; promote healthy eyes and skin; boosts the immune system; reduce risks of colon and prostate cancer; aid in weight loss; lower risks of diabetes and promote better sleep and improve mood.

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