Pumpkin Spice season is FINALLY here! We have all waited so long for this day to come around again. MMMmmm…..I can smell it. That spicy aroma of comfort in a mug.
These days pumpkins come in every color to complement every home decor palette. Orange, green, yellow, gray, white, purple, black - you name it…..
BUT, what’s most important about this fruit (yes - it’s a fruit due to it’s a flowering plant with seeds) is not it’s color - it is what’s INSIDE the pumpkin that counts!! Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds have SO many health benefits!!
AND Pumpkin is delicious and easy to add to your diet.
It can be added to both sweet and savory dishes like custards, breads and pies OR roasted vegetables, soups and pasta dishes.
Pumpkins have a very tough skin, so it requires some effort to slice - but SO worth the effort!! Once you cut it, scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts, then slice the pumpkin into wedges.
There are apparently over 30 varieties of pumpkins and some are easier to work with than others and some have meatier insides. The Jack O Lanterns that we use for carving are thinner skinned to make carving easier, but the insides are stringier and not as meaty. They can still be used to cook with - and those stringing insides (the guts) can be used for broth and mulled wine.
AND of course the seeds are still yummy! The seeds are edible and packed with nutrients and offer many health benefits. Roasted with some sea salt, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom - whatever spice you desire - they are delicious and nutritious!!
Pumpkin is also available pre-cut or canned, giving you flexibility with your recipes and preparation. When buying canned, be sure to read labels carefully, as not all products will be 100% pumpkin and you may want to avoid added ingredients, particularly sugar.
The easiest way to eat pumpkin is to season it with salt and pepper and roast it in the oven. Many people also enjoy making it into pumpkin soup, especially during winter.
Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, pumpkin is incredibly healthy. What’s more, its low calorie content makes it a weight-loss-friendly food. Its nutrients and antioxidants may boost your immune system, protect your eyesight, lower your risk of certain cancers and promote heart and skin health. In addition, pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF PUMPKIN:
• High Antioxidant Content May Reduce Your Risk of Chronic Diseases. Pumpkin is high in vitamins A and C, which can help boost your immune system. Its supply of vitamin E, iron and folate may strengthen your immunity as well.
• Pumpkin is also one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds linked to lower risks of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Additionally, it contains good amounts of vitamins C and E, which function as antioxidants and may prevent free radicals from damaging your eye cells.
• Pumpkin is packed with nutrients and yet has under 50 calories per cup (245 grams). This makes it a nutrient-dense food. It’s also a good source of fiber, which may suppress your appetite.
• Pumpkin contains carotenoids, which function as antioxidants. These compounds are linked to lower risks of stomach, throat, pancreas and breast cancer.
• Pumpkin is a good source of potassium, vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, which have been linked to heart health benefits.
• Pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, which acts as a natural sunblock. It also contains vitamins C and E, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help keep your skin strong and healthy.
• Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium. Healthy magnesium levels are important for your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, as well as heart and bone health.
One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains (*)
Fat: 0.2 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
Potassium: 16% of the RDI
Copper: 11% of the RDI
Manganese: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
Iron: 8% of the RDI
Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.
PUMPKINS are not just for decoration anymore…...SO - this year if you have a few extra pumpkins make a yummy pumpkin dish or two OR after Halloween instead of throwing your pumpkins to the curb, roast the pumpkin seeds!! It’s so easy to incorporate pumpkin into your diet to reap its health benefits.
AND for you PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE LOVERS out there, we’ve shared a healthier version you can make at home - which contains a third of the sugar!
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
• 8 ounces (1 cup) of your favorite hot coffee
• 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree - pure organic pumpkin with no other ingredients
• 2 teaspoons maple syrup - natural, organic
• 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice - or to taste
• 4 ounces of Almond or Coconut Milk
• Pour the coffee into a 12-ounce mug, then add the pumpkin puree. Stir until it's dissolved and totally mixed in. Add the maple syrup and the pumpkin spice and stir. Pour the milk into a small, heatproof mug or bowl and heat in the microwave until steaming (or, heat it in a small pan on the stove).
If you're feeling fancy, you can use a milk frother to make a perfect latte. Pour the milk into the coffee and serve with a little more pumpkin spice sprinkled on top!
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