By Garrett Serd, M.S., RD, ACSM-CPT
The sight of pumpkins often serves a reminder that the holiday season is fast approaching. For many of us, the fall season means enjoying pumpkin in all its forms –pumpkin pie, to pumpkin-spice lattes and fresh pumpkin cookies.
Even the spices that are typically used with pumpkins can benefit your health. Cinnamon can help lower blood pressure and reduce the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells. The main components in ginger may inhibit the growth of human colorectal cells. Nutmeg can help prevent Alzheimer’s and also act as an anti-inflammatory. Even Allspice contains two antioxidants, Vitamins A & C.
But pumpkins don’t have to be relegated to the dessert table or the Starbucks drive through. In fact, here are some ways to enjoy this seasonal favorite without worrying about your waistline:
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds make a great snack that is healthy, filling and high in fiber. For roasting, first separate out the pumpkin seeds and place them in a colander. Next, rinse them under running water and allow them to simmer in salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Finally, add oil and seasoning and roast them at 400° for 5 to 20 minutes, or until browned.
Competing with Starbucks is a losing game, but you can come out on top in terms of sugar content. Add a natural sweetener (e.g. stevia or honey) and combine it with brewed coffee, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spices.
Pumpkin Bowl Chili or Stew
Add a bit of sweetness to a spicy chili or stew by serving it inside a small, roasted pumpkin. To roast your whole pumpkin, cut off the top, scoop out the insides and place in a pan with a half-inch of water and bake at 375° for about 30-minutes or until soft.
Bring a new level of nutrients and flavor to your traditional pancake recipe by adding pumpkin puree. Along with the puree, add vanilla and pumpkin pie spices to make a delicious and nutritious breakfast.
Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake
Check out the recipe below for a pumpkin-pie approach to your shake that is filled with muscle-building protein and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
- 1-2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
- ½ cup pumpkin (fresh or canned, fresh has more nutrients)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or nutmeg)
- ¼ tsp of ginger spice
- 1 ripe banana
- Few cubes of ice (or you can use a frozen banana in its place)
- Blend and Enjoy