Why Pumpkin Is a Fall Superfood Favorite
Nothing says Fall better than a beautiful orange pumpkin. But pumpkins aren’t just for decoration or making Jack-O-Lanterns, they are extremely healthy for you and Fall’s superfood!
Pumpkin is packed full of:
- Beta-carotene – Prevents aging and infections, and plays a role in cancer prevention. Plus, food sources of beta-carotene seem to help more than supplements – even more reason to enjoy some pumpkin in one of the recipes below.
- Vitamin C – Promotes collagen production, boosts immunity and fights free radicals. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains nearly 20% of the daily recommended allowance of collagen.
- Potassium – Prevents onset of cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
- Vitamin A – A fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for vision. It is also needed for a healthy immune system and assists with the proper functioning of your heart, lungs and kidneys. Just one spoonful of pumpkin puree can provide over a third of most people’s daily vitamin A requirements.
- Fiber – Great for constipation or indigestion, as well as regulating cholesterol and blood sugar levels. A 1-cup serving contains 7 grams of fiber.
Pumpkin makes a great “diet food” to help you get rid of those extra few pounds because it is fat-free and very low in calories. One cup of pumpkin has only 50 calories! Yet, this humble, backyard fruit is still packed with an abundance of disease-fighting nutrients.
Crunchy and delicious pumpkin seeds are really good for you too. They are very high in essential minerals such as zinc and magnesium. Pumpkin seeds are highly recommended to arrest prostate enlargement because of their high zinc content. Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid is important in production of serotonin, one of the major players when it comes to our mood. A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds may help your outlook stay bright.
Pumpkins Are the Perfect Healthy Fall Treat
Not only is pumpkin good for you, it’s delicious! I admit, I have a weakness for anything pumpkin. From soup, to pie, to lattes…if it’s got pumpkin in it, I’m sure to love it. I’m not a huge carrot fan, so I get most of my beta-carotene from pumpkin.
Beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant that converts into vitamin A. Most people know that vitamin A is really important for our eyes and vision. However, vitamin A is also very important for building our immune system. It has an important role in the production of white blood cells and helps regenerate the intestine mucosal barrier that keeps infection out of the body. With flu season right around the corner, getting enough vitamin A is really important for its immune-boosting properties.
One of the pitfalls of eating pumpkin is that most foods made with pumpkin are also packed with sugar and refined flour. I am going to share with you my 3 favorite healthy pumpkin recipes. Each delicious pumpkin recipe is free from white sugar and white flour.
The first recipe for pumpkin muffins uses a process called soaking. Whenever I make something with wheat flour, I like to use soaked recipes. Soaking essentially “predigests” your flour making it easier for you to digest. It also ferments out the phytic acid, which can upset your digestion and block your body from absorbing important minerals and nutrients.
Soaked Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin
- 3/4 cup water + 2 Tbsp organic buttermilk or plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup melted organic butter or coconut oil
- 1 cup sucanat or natural granular alternative
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
- Optional: You can also add in raisins, nuts, cranberries or whatever sounds good!
- Cool butter slightly.
- Mix together flour, pumpkin, water, buttermilk/yogurt and butter. Cover with a plate or towel. Allow this mixture to rest (soak) at room temperature overnight.
- When ready to bake, add remaining ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Pour into muffin cups and bake 45 minutes at 325 degrees F.
- Muffins will be more moist than usual when checking doneness with a toothpick. Do not overbake!
- Remove from oven and allow muffins to rest in pan for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and allow to cool on wire racks.
Delicious Pumpkin Soup
Whether you’re getting ready for trick-or-treating or you’re simply enjoying a late fall evening, this easy pumpkin soup is sure to tempt all ages. Pumpkin is such a beloved superfood that there are some who even follow a pumpkin diet! This recipe is dairy free and instead uses coconut milk. Coconut milk is a great dairy alternative and contains fatty acids that are very good for you. These fatty acids promote normal brain development and contribute to healthy bones. These fatty acids also have important anti-carcinogenic and anti-pathogenic properties and are less likely to cause weight gain than polyunsaturated oils.
- 2 ½ cups fresh pumpkin
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 1 can whole-fat coconut milk
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 green chili, halved and seeds removed (optional)
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- Fried bacon crumbled or toasted salted pumpkin seeds
- Cut the pumpkin into a few big pieces and boil it in water for around 5 minutes or until it becomes soft. Cool completely or until comfortable to the touch. Cut off the skin and put pumpkin flesh into a blender/food processor.
- Meanwhile, roast the whole garlic cloves for about 10 minutes at 400 F in the oven.
- Heat up some coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the onions till they brown slightly and get nicely caramelized.
- Add peeled roasted garlic cloves and the onion into the blender along with the pumpkin flesh and blend it for a moment till you get a smooth paste. You can add a drop of water if needed.
- In a soup pot, mix together 2/3 of coconut milk and about 2 cups of chicken/vegetable stock. Add the pumpkin puree and green chili halves and bring mixture to a boil. Let it simmer for a little bit, see if you need to add more water. Season it with salt and pepper to your liking and just before it is done, mix in the rest of fresh coconut milk.
- Just before serving, garnish with fried bacon pieces or roasted pumpkin seeds (optional).
Healthy Pumpkin Spice Creamer
This last recipe is the newest in my pumpkin collection. I absolutely love pumpkin flavor in my coffee! I’m not even a big coffee drinker, but if it has pumpkin in it, I love it! Coffee shops use a sugar-based syrup for their pumpkin spice lattes, but there is nothing nutritious about it! It doesn’t even contain real pumpkin! The store-bought creamers are packed full of sugars, bad fats, fake ingredients and can contain up to 50 grams of sugar! Leave that all behind, save a few bucks, and have some fun being your own barista this fall with our recipe below.
This delicious recipe calls for real pumpkin. The recipe is also made with healthy fats in the diary-free version with coconut milk and the antioxidants of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (spice found in pumpkin spice) and tastes like the real thing. If you’re a flavor genius, play with ingredients like vanilla bean, cloves, and cinnamon sticks to make it your own. Give our Pumpkin Spice Latte a try—you’ll love it!
- 2 cups whole-fat coconut milk
- 3 Tbsp canned pumpkin
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 Tbsp maple syrup
- Whisk everything except the vanilla over medium heat in a saucepan.
- When steam begins to form, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Strain through a mesh sieve (optional).
- Store in a glass container in the refrigerator.
Remember, adding more pumpkin to your diet will help boost your immune system and increase your regularity! I’ve also found that pumpkin foods always seem to put me in a cheery state of mind.
I don’t know about you, but eating pumpkin always gets me in the mood for the holidays. There is nothing quite like the aroma of pumpkin spices to get you excited about the coming holiday season!
Not only is fall’s signature squash versatile, it also packs some powerful healthy perks — like keeping heart health, vision and waistlines in check, as long as you take it easy on the pie, that is. Skip the sugar-laden pumpkin pies and pumpkin breads and try these nutrient–packed and delicious pumpkin recipes instead! With so many health benefits, you won’t regret taking advantage of this fall’s superfood: pumpkin!
Delicious food that is good for you? I’m not complaining and I’m sure you won’t either.
There’s no reason to stop with just three pumpkin nutritionally loaded recipes. Try gingerbread snaps with pumpkin butter and dark chocolate with pumpkin seeds with a buzzy secret ingredient.