Even if the leaves aren’t changing where you are and the air isn’t cooling yet, there is most definitely pumpkin everything, everywhere… Pumpkin bars and pancakes and pies. Pumpkin spice this and pumpkin spice that. In the western world, I’m pretty sure that means fall is officially here.
Let’s start with the benefit of pumpkin. It come from the squash family. The benefit of its bright orange hue is that it is loaded with the antioxidant beta carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. This power vitamin is known for boosting immunity and is good for eye health. Pumpkin is also great for heart health with potassium, vitamin C and fiber. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of cooked, boiled or drained pumpkin contains:
- 1.76 g of protein
- 0.17 g of fat
- 12.01 g of carbohydrates
- 2.7 g of fiber
- 49 calories
- 0 g of cholesterol
- >200% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A
- 90% of the RDA of vitamin C
- 10% or more of the RDA of vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese
- 5% of thiamine, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium and phosphorus
If you know me, you know that I promote real food in its whole form as much as possible. I also understand that we all live rich and full lives so I try to provide realistic ways to implement this whole real food into our lifestyle. It can be labor and time intensive to make pumpkin from scratch (although doable and fun if you have the time and energy). The good news is, you can still get that power punch from a can of organic pumpkin, but be sure to read the label and see that the ingredient list is only pumpkin. No added anything. Below, I am going to give you 7 healthy ways to eat pumpkin during pumpkin season, but before I do, I want to be sure and talk about how this healthy food can take a turn for the worst in our modern food world. This doesn’t mean never have these things again every in your life. This means be aware of what you’re consuming and make conscious, intuitive decisions for what’s best for you.
- Please try to avoid or limit coffee shop pumpkin lattes as they are loaded with CRAP! Below are some screen shots of a 16oz Starbuck Pumpkin Spice Latte. EEK!
- Please try to avoid or limit canned pumpkin pie mix. That is usually loaded with additives and sugars. When making pumpkin pie, use the recipe below (or one that you love and know to have real ingredients).
- Please try to avoid or limit pumpkin pastries, breads, pies that aren’t made a natural baker or in your own home where you can control the ingredients. Too much sugar and poor oils can make a “healthier treat” turn into a health bomb.
I don’t like to label food “good” or bad”, but I do like us to be aware of what we are eating. So, now that we’ve talked about some things to be aware of and try to avoid… here are 7 recipes/ways that pumpkin season can fill your body and soul with goodness (even the healthier indulgences).
Note: I have zero affiliation with any of these people/blogs, but their recipes are delicious (or look delicious for those I haven’t tried yet).
- Just roast it. Slice the pumpkin into wedges and discard pulp (set seeds aside to roast if you wish). Put on baking sheet and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle on sea salt, garlic, pepper and rosemary (or get creative with your spices). Roast for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie (because this time of year wouldn’t be complete without it).
- Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coconut Latte… because they are so good, but not-so-good for you at Starbucks. 1 cup of coffee, 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk, 2-3 Tbsp pumpkin puree, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp pure maple syrup or monk fruit if you are trying to stay low carb (optional). Put all ingredients in sauce pan (except coffee). Heat, regularly stirring until it comes to a slight boil. Pour into mug with coffee (drink as is or use a frother to froth it up a bit).
- Pumpkin Apple Butter to spread on the things you spread butter on
- Simply stirring some pumpkin puree into your raw, plain yogurt or Kiefer. Top with some nuts and berries and you have a healthy, tasty little treat.
- Add pumpkin to soups, stews and sauces to give them a warm, savory hit. I will let my stir fry’s simmer in pumpkin. Add it to my beef stews. Add it to my chili. Add in any spices that sound good to you and mmmm good.
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. I like to use as much of the food as possible and roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious!
So, just because our world promotes this time of year as sugar loaded, calorie dense, nutrient deficient pumpkin season with its lattes and baked goods, you now have the knowledge and the tools to use this incredible food for health benefits instead. Enjoy!