Pumpkins don’t get much culinary love. Like turkey, pumpkin has its one week in the spot light and then is mostly forgotten for the rest of the year. I think it’s time to see beyond jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie, and enjoy pumpkin year-round for its delicate taste, beautiful color and impressive nutrients.
The rich orange color of this humble squash tells the whole story. This color is what imparts the cell protecting antioxidants in the form of beta carotene. Beta carotene converts to Vitamin A in the body, which is a powerful ally for the immune system, protects the eyes and heals the skin. Pumpkin flesh is also high in minerals like iron and the seeds are rich in zinc.
So how should I use it?
I totally cheat and use canned organic pumpkin and have no guilt about it.
Here are just a few ideas of how to get pumpkin into your diet. There are many recipes online so I have included only one, at the end of this post, that I made up this morning. I am pretty excited about it and will be enjoying it all year long.
Pumpkin Ice Cream (get an ice cream maker and make healthy treats in no time!)
Pumpkin Pancakes (mix into batter)
Pumpkin Smoothie - see below!
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
This creamy orange smoothie is a perfect breakfast, snack or even dessert. It’s completely balanced and will give you sustained energy for hours. Most smoothies can not brag about high Vitamin A, healthy fat and protein. This is a real winner! Yields 2.5 cups. Might as well double it and use that whole can of pumpkin. It stores well in fridge for the next day.
5 soaked dates (remove pits and soak for at least 5 minutes in hot water)
1/2 of 15 oz. can organic pumpkin
4 Tbsp canned coconut milk (stir first and store rest for smoothies, oatmeal, soup, curry)
1 cup milk of choice (I use nut or hemp milk)
2 tsp almond butter
1/8 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin spice blend (mine has cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove)
Sliver of fresh peeled ginger root
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp maple syrup (grade B!)
Pinch sea salt
5 ice cubes
Blend well and enjoy!
Optional add ins: at end briefly mix in 1 Tbsp hemp seeds (will add a nutty texture) and/or 1 Tbsp shredded coconut (adds fun coconut-y texture).
Enjoy your orange mustaches!
Erika Siegel ND