Embrace the pumpkin this pumpkin season
It’s the pumpkin-spiced everything season, and there’s some beneficial health value in getting more involved with this unassuming fruit this year in greater ways than just carving one up for Hallowe’en…
Five Health Benefits of Pumpkin include:
- Immune System
One cup of cooked pumpkin has 245% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. It’s also a great source of beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A.
Vitamin A is important for strengthening your immune system. Research has also found those will low levels of vitamin A tend to have weaker immune systems. Check out this 2015 study for more (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26121194). Further, it’s also a good source of vitamin C, which, among other things, is an important vitamin for increasing your white blood cell production—another key to a strong immune system.
- Heart Health
If you don’t like bananas, pumpkin is another great source of potassium, which is helpful for the heart. Specifically, those with higher potassium intake have lower blood pressure and are at a reduced risk of having as stroke (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27792643), two risk factors in developing heart disease.
- Eye Health
If you have never heard of lutein or zeaxanthin, I admit I hadn’t either. They are two compounds linked to lowering the risk of age-related eye problems, eyesight loss and cataracts. And they are found in high levels in pumpkin.
- Weight Loss?
Pumpkin has fewer than 50 calories per cup, as 94 percent of it is just water. Check out its full nutrient profile here (https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2601/2).
This means you can consume more pumpkin than other carbs, such as potatoes, yet feel satiated. On top of this, it has lots of fibre, so some consider is a great food for weight loss.
- Skin Health
It’s also high in carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, which is believed to act as a natural sunblock. Sounds kind of strange, but essentially when you eat it, the carotenoids get transported to various organs, including the skin. When in the skin, they help protect against UV rays from the sun. Don’t believe me? Read more in this study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23053552).
If nothing else, it’s high in vitamin C, a vitamin that promotes healthy skin, as your body needs it to make collagen, a protein that keeps the skin (and bones) strong and healthy.
On top of this, it’s incredibly culinarily versatile and can be substituted in many delicious dishes—both savoury and sweet—for less healthy products like wheat flour and potatoes!
Note: If you buy canned pumpkin, make sure there’s no added sugar!
Here are some recipe ideas:
Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes!
Pancake Mix ingredients:
- 4 Eggs
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 4 Tbsp. coconut flour
- 2 Tbsp. butter, ghee or coconut oil
- 1 Tsp. Vanilla
- 1/2 Tsp baking soda
- Optional: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Proceed as always with pancake making!
Pumpkin Soup topped with Roasted Pumpkin seeds that only takes 30 minutes
- 4 cups pumpkin
- 1 onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- Salt, pepper, cinnamon to taste
- Optional: 1 sweet potato
- Butter for frying the onion
- 1 Cup coconut milk, coconut cream or heavy cream
Sautee the onion and garlic in butter (or ghee) until soft. Add chicken broth, water and bring to a boil. Add pumpkin and sweet potato. Cook until soft. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Put back in the pot and add salt, pepper, cinnamon and coconut milk or heavy cream.
Top with roasted pumpkin seeds!
Healthy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup coconut flour
- 2 tsp.pumpkin pie spice (or make it yourself with 1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 5 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (or use a banana as a sweetener)
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
- Mix dry ingredients
- In a separate bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin, butter or coconut oil and honey/maple syrup
- Put wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until smooth
- Spoon into a muffin tin
- Bake at 350 to 375 F for 20-25 minutes
What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin? Add your recipe to comments.