Fall is almost here. That means cooler temperatures (we hope), football, foliage, and pumpkin-spice everything. It’s the official color and fruit (yes, you heard that right) of the season, pumpkins are used in multiple ways: jack-o-lanterns, pie, or beloved lattes. If we take a deeper look at this good gourd, we’ll discover the incredible health benefits that pumpkin offers.
There’s no denying, pumpkins are a nutrition powerhouse. What makes it so special? Pumpkins contain a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber – all in a mere 30 calories per cup. Specifically, they provide potassium, riboflavin, copper, manganese, vitamin C, and almost twice the daily value of vitamin A. The bright orange color signifies the presence of the powerful phytonutrient beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that has been shown to prevent cancer, heart disease and help with eyesight, too.
But, we aren’t stopping there. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a powerhouse in their own right! As a yummy, portable snack, they give us a hefty dose of fiber, protein, zinc, iron, and phytonutrients. All these wonderful nutrients have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, signs of aging, and macular degeneration. Talk about nutrition bang for your buck! Sprinkle on your salad, add to a homemade trail mix, or keep a container in your car for on-the-go snacking.
Nutrition aside, pumpkin has a unique ability to make any autumn meal, side dish, or dessert instantly seem more festive. Add canned pumpkin to smoothies, soups and stews, baked goods, or even in a silky dessert dip. This versatile ingredient yields endless possibilities, so get ready to make it your new pantry staple. Here are some fun, festive recipes that incorporate pumpkin:
Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal – Start your day off right with a hearty bowl of piping hot oatmeal. Feel free to mix flavors if you please, just don’t miss out on the yummy pumpkin addition to enhance the texture and nutrient profile. It will remind you of grandma’s pumpkin pie and keep you full until lunchtime.
Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – When you need a satisfying crunch, go for this delicious recipe. Roast with extra virgin olive oil and your favorite spices for a filling snack. Take with you on the go or offer as a savory appetizer when hosting. Your guests will love it!
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili – This veggie packed chili will become a family favorite in no time. The pumpkin puree adds a velvety texture and richness that will make you go back for seconds – trust me on this one!
Regardless of the season, my colleagues and I are always looking for fun, easy and healthy recipes to provide our patients, so click here to find more.