Pumpkin became our obvious choice October’s vegetable of the month.
Mmm, pumpkin spice lattes and breads. Pumpkin waffles from Trader Joes and of course, pie with pumpkin ice cream no less.
That’s all well and good, however, in our quest to get folks eating vegetables in a healthy way, this one is too often simply associated with lists like the one above. In reality, Pumpkins are a great base for healthy eating.
While containing not a lot of calories it’s packed with nutrients. In fact in 1 cup of cooked pumpkin there are only 49 calories but it has 245% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 2 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber.
The high amounts of beta carotene that converts to vitamin A in our bodies when consumed is credited with helping with eye and skin health. Beta carotene is also known to protect the cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Thats just some of the many good reasons to eat pumpkin!
The question is, “How do I eat more pumpkin to get the health benefits without all the not so healthy additions?”
A couple of good ways is to add pureed pumpkin to your morning oatmeal, or you afternoon yogurt. Or as a yummy smoothie. (Recipe below:)
The reality is that pumpkin is extremely bland. It needs some help with flavor, which it turns out tend to also be good for you.
For example the two most commonly used spices are cinnamon and ginger.
- Cinnamon: The health benefits claims of cinnamon are wide raging. This makes sense since it has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries. Many studies have been done that suggest cinnamon may help with cholesterol, diabetes, cancer prevention and to even help with neurological disorders. In addition it is high in antioxidants and helps with fugal infections. (1.)
- Ginger: Ginger is a great addition to any diet. It is helps with nausea and is high in antioxidants. Studies have also shown that it can help with cancer prevention. (2.)
It is very easy to open a can of pumpkin and and add some extra fiber and vitamin A to a recipe. However, if you want to make the real thing. It is super easy to roast a pumpkin.
First pick up a sugar pumpkin or go to your local farmer’s market for a special roasting variety.
Cut the top off and cut the pumpkin in half.
Remove the seeds. (And save them to make some yummy roasted pumpkin seeds. Also highly nutritious.)
Lightly brush the inside of the pumpkin with olive oil.
Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, flesh side down and roast at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes.
Once cool enough to handle, dig out the pulp and place it in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
You may need to scrap the edges a couple of times and if needed add a tiny bit of water.
Store for up to a week in your refrigerator or freeze for several months in the freezer. Since there is such a high concentration of water in pumpkin you may need to mix up the pumpkin in the blender again once it is defrosted.
A great way to use up this great fresh pumpkin puree is in a smoothie. Super simple and very yummy.
Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake
- 1/2 cup of Pumpkin, pureed
- 1/2 cup of milk of choice, (we used Almond milk)
- 1 small banana
- 1-2 T of Almond Butter
- 1/2 t of Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1/4 t Vanilla
- 1-2 T of protein powder
Combine all ingredients in blender and enjoy!
- You can add 1/4-1/2 yogurt to this recipe.
- I like to add a little more fiber by adding about a tablespoon of Psyllium husk. It helps to keep me full longer!
You may notice that our straw looks a little different! In addition to trying to get folks to eat more veggies, I am also trying to use less plastic. The above picture features The LastStraw. It folds down to into a small carrying case that can attach to your keychain. Also includes a straw cleaner. Love this! For those of you in Spokane you can find it at the Kitchen Engine. It works great for those lattes I mentioned earlier 🙂
Check out a couple more of our super healthy recipes: