Pumpkin Shrimp Recipe

Recipe contributed by Luciana Mitzkun Weston,
Alexander Gardens Community Services Director

“Camarão na moranga” is a typical dish of the Brazilian south coast, delicious and impressive for special occasions. The recipe was created in 1945 in Ubatuba, a town along the northern coast of state of São Paulo. 
Pumpkin is a Central American vegetable very common in Brazil. It is versatile and is used to make a infinite number of sweet and savory recipes.


  • 5lbs flat pumpkin (sweet pumpkin)
  • For the prawns in cream sauce:
    • 2 lbs medium prawns
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 garlic clove chopped
    • 1 small onion chopped
    • 2 cups tomato sauce
    • salt and ground pepper or chilli pepper
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 2 cups cheese cream
  • Garnish:
    • large sized prawns
    • salt
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1 shot cognac

Preparation method

Preparation of the pumpkin: 
1. Wash the pumpkin and cut the “lid” to make the pumpkin into a “bowl”. 
2. Scrape the inside with a spoon to remove seeds. 
3. Bake the pumpkin at 250° for about 1 hour, until the pulp is soft.

Preparation of the prawns in cream sauce: 
1. Sauté the onion and the garlic finely chopped in oil and butter.  
2. Add the tomato sauce, the bay leaf, salt, black pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the peeled prawns and cook a few minutes. 
4. Dissolve the flour in a little of coconut milk or whipping (heavy) cream. 
5. Add the whipping (heavy) cream, the coconut milk and flour dissolved to the mixture, a little at a time, and stir frequently until the cream is thickened. 
6. Season with salt and black pepper; remove and discard the bay leaf. 

To assemble the dish:  
1. Fill the baked pumpkin with the prawns in cream sauce and the cheese cubes. 
2. Bake the filled pumpkin at 350° until the cheese has melted. It takes about 15 minutes.
3. Decorate the filled pumpkin with prawns sautéed with olive oil and garlic and flambéed with cognac. 
4. Pumpkin is not only a bowl but is part of the dish so, serve the pulp of the pumpkin with the prawns in cream sauce. Serve with white rice. 

Yield: 4 – 6 servings.

5 Reasons Seniors Should Join a Book Club in When Living in Assisted Living

Senior Reading

The Book Club at Alexander Gardens Assisted Living is one of the many life-enriching activities offered to our residents. We understand leading a full and meaningful life is important at any age but when seniors move to an assisted living community a good life enrichment program will improve the quality of their lives. Staying active in an Assisted Living community is vital in reducing depression and isolation.

Book clubs are important in assisted living because research shows reading helps long term memory, focus and concentration. In her article, Being a Lifelong Bookworm May Keep You Sharp in Old Age, by Marina KorenSMITHSONIANMAG.COM, JULY 3, 2013, she talks about giving our brains a workout. Reading and retaining words requires more mental energy than, watching TV or playing Solitary on an IPad.
According to Koren, “In particular, people who participated in mentally stimulating activities over their lifetimes, both in young, middle and old age, had a slower rate of decline in memory and other mental capacities than those who did not.” No matter your age it’s important to read and these are some of the reasons seniors should join a book club.
1.    Socialization, in addition to giving your brain a workout, a book club can be social. It brings together residents in a group environment to share their ideas about the book they are reading. They may have so much fun and meet someone new.
2.    Expanding resident’ horizons beyond the walls in assisted living. Reading brings the outside world to the resident’s world without leaving the building. Books offer a glimpse into the lives of other people, different cultures, and current events.
3.    Practicing effective communication skills in a book club helps residents clarify what they have read in the book. Residents will question each other about ideas and opinions. In addition, they will provide feedback to each other when discussing characters and plot.
4.    Setting goals for reading is a good thing for residents. Sometimes residents get over whelmed if they feel pressure to join an activity or group especially if they were not social when living in their home. But reading is an individual activity and can be done at one’s own pace. Whether the resident chooses to join the conversation or sit and listen it’s up to them, but both are better than staying in their room.
5. Getting out of their comfort zone. Sometimes residents get comfortable and won’t try new things. When they commit to joining a book club they may have to read books that they ordinarily would not read. And they may have to discuss topics they are not exposed to on a regular basis.
Improving long-term memory in seniors through the book club is just as important as exercising. The mental challenge of reading and retaining information helps delay the onset of dementia. A science advisor Dr. Zaven Khachaturian, to the Alzheimer’s Association published an article in USA TODAY, states, “ brain-challenging activities build a reserve of neuronal connections, making it take longer for the Alzheimer’s process to destroy enough neurons for symptoms to emerge.” As the residents read and discuss the material in the book they are retaining the information and helping the brain stay young.
Reading no matter what your age is good for your brain. It helps improve concentration, focus and thinking skills. Coupled with a book club makes reading a positive and rewarding experience for seniors living in assisted living.
If you are looking for a book for your book club try reading, Happy for No Reason, by New York bestselling author, Marci Shimoff. Why not start your year off right and learn how to reset your happiness button. Take the Happiness Quiz from Happy for No Reason Questionnaire. According to Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim, and end of human existence.” Make 2020 the year of the book and join the club.