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Pink pumpkins raise awareness at healthcare chef’s demo

The Porcelain Doll pumpkin, bred to help battle breast cancer, will headline at healthcare chef’s farmers’ market class this fall.

Billed as the world’s first pink pumpkin, the Porcelain Doll hybrid variety of pumpkin is tied to a cause: the battle with breast cancer. Pumpkin growers agree to donate a percentage of the price of every pink pumpkin they sell to the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation, which has been helping to fund breast cancer research projects since 2012.

Nazim Khan, executive chef at Bryan Health in Lincoln, Neb., found out about the pink pumpkin project through an employee from the hospital’s radiology department. 

Since Khan tends to see life from a chef’s standpoint, his first thought was: “What a neat idea…how can we cook with these pumpkins and raise awareness at the same time?”

The local farmers’ market will be the perfect platform, and Khan has been working with the radiology and oncology departments on doing chef’s demos at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in downtown Lincoln. There, the pink pumpkins will make an appropriate statement. 

“Bryan Health employs about 4,600 people in this town, and we always want to give back to the community,” Khan says. “The radiology and oncology departments are dealing with all these cancers. How do you tackle that and figure it out? Staying healthy and eating healthy is an educational piece.”

The hospital team will partner with a local high school’s garden classroom program to obtain the seeds and grow the pumpkins.

Come fall, Khan plans to create at least a couple of dishes with the pumpkins, and each recipe will come with recipe cards for the audience to take home.

“I know I can take pumpkins anywhere from savory to sweet,” Khan says. “One of the things I really want to do is roast pumpkin cubes with curry powder, cool them down and make a quinoa salad with some baby arugula and feta cheese, and I’d also like to do a bisque.”

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