As soon as the leaves start to fall and the temperature drops, everything from donuts and soup to beverages like coffee and beer become infused with pumpkin. Over the past several years, pumpkin-flavored food and beverage items have skyrocketed in popularity. According to GrubHub statistics, almost 30% of pumpkin-affiliated orders occur in October and November.
Aside from feeling festive about fall, there are lots of reasons why you may want to think about adding some pumpkin to your menu all year through. Here are just a few of the many benefits this orange squash has to offer:• A cup of pureed pumpkin has 80 calories, 1g fat, 10g fiber, and 4g protein. No need to go pumpkin picking — just pick up a can of pureed pumpkin in the supermarket. Be sure to check the food label though and skip they type that has added sugar.
• Pumpkins are packed with beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which is immune-boosting and important for eye health. Beta-carotene’s anti-inflammatory effects have even been shown to fight wrinkles. (Don’t pass up that pumpkin skin cream!)
• You’ll consume 50% of your daily value of vitamin K in a cup of pumpkin, an essential fat-soluble vitamin that’s important for proper blood clotting.
• Pumpkin is a potassium powerhouse, important for brain and heart health. A cup provides 100 milligrams more potassium than a banana.
• Save the seeds! Pumpkin seeds provide magnesium, zinc, iron, tryptophan, omega 3s, and vitamin E. Munching on these seeds can help lower your cholesterol, provide antioxidants, have anti-microbial effects, and help make serotonin (your brain’s feel good chemical).
Here are my favorite ways to put a little pumpkin on your plate:
• Mix ¼ cup canned pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves into your morning oatmeal, topped with a dollop of almond butter for a breakfast bursting with fall flavors and packed with fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fat.
• Swap pumpkin for half of the oil or butter in most cookie, brownie, or quick bread recipe. My kids love my pumpkin bread with almonds and dark chocolate chips — this recipe (pictured above) is so easy to make.
• Amplify the fiber and protein in your afternoon smoothie snack by adding pumpkin to the blender. (Swap in 1/4 cup pumpkin puree for the sweet potato in this quick and easy recipe here.)
• Snack on seeds! Full of magnesium, zinc, iron, tryptophan, omega 3s, and vitamin E, munching on pumpkin seeds can help lower your cholesterol, provide antioxidants, have anti-microbial effects, and help make serotonin (your feel good brain chemical).
How do you prefer your pumpkin?
Read more of Bonnie’s Everyday Health Nutrition Intuition blog here.