Think pumpkins are just things to carve and plop a candle into? Think again! The orange Halloween treat is actually a nutritionally-packed winter squash that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Pumpkin meat is packed with carotenoids—antioxidants that give them their orange hue and work to fight against free radicals in your body, helping to prevent wrinkles, heart disease, and cancer. Pumpkins also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health. Last but not least, pumpkins are chock full of iron, potassium (electrolytes), zinc, and fiber.
This all adds up to an often underappreciated squash that’s antioxidant-rich, promotes a healthy intestinal track, and helps boost our energy levels.
Most days I find myself too impatient or short on time to carve up a whole pumpkin, so I reach for organic canned pumpkin. Unlike many canned vegetables, canned pumpkin still retains almost as much nutrients as the fresh flesh. I’ve found it adds great flavor to lots of things. You can add a couple of large dollops to yogurt or oatmeal, combining it well and topping with a touch of maple syrup, chopped pecans, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. You can also think about mixing some into pureed soups, or adding it to various batters (healthy muffins, cookies, or pumpkin breads).
Here’s a new recipe I’ve been working on this fall: Pumpkin Pie Smoothies! This smoothie tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass, but without unhealthy sugars or fillers. Additionally, it contains a big, filling protein boost from the canned pumpkin, hemp seeds, and almond butter. It’s sweet without being cloying, and the spices bring the delicious flavor of autumn to your morning.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Makes 2 smoothies
1 can organic pumpkin (you can consider freezing the canned pumpkin into ice cube trays)
1 cup water
3 ounces of coconut milk
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and/or cloves)
1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 tsp of vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1 banana (I like to use a frozen one)
1-2 tsp maple syrup (this is optional, if you want your smoothie a little sweeter)
6 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons almond butter
Blend with ice. Enjoy!