Come fall, everyone is all about the pumpkin, or rather pumpkin spice. People profess their love for the fall flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, usually by indulging in a fall-themed food like pumpkin spice lattes and desserts. But getting that fall-flavored fix can quickly add up to many extra calories. For example, a grande pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream from Starbucks is 380 calories. One pumpkin donut from Dunkin’ Donuts is 340 calories. While the occasional treat is ok, these “pumpkin” flavored treats can’t hold a candle to the real gorgeous gourd. There’s a better, healthier way to get your fall pumpkin fix.
The pumpkin is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere, pumpkins have been grown in the United States for 5,000 years. A member of the gourd family, this fruit (because it contains seeds) is chock full of vitamins and minerals. According to NutritionalValue.org, just 100 grams of pumpkin gives 170% of vitamin A (Beta Carotene) plus vitamin C, potassium and fiber all for 26 calories.
Healthy Pumpkin Recipes
There are plenty of ways to enjoy pumpkin that don’t include whipped cream and pastry. Here are some healthier alternatives.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds are a perfect snack. They contain lots of heart-healthy oils, magnesium, potassium and calcium. There are pretty easy to make too. Once you remove the seeds from your pumpkin, place them in a colander and rinse to remove any clinging pumpkin meat. Boil the seeds in salted water for 10 minutes, then dry and spread the seeds out on a sheet pan. Toss the seeds with vegetable oil, salt and any spices you like (chili powder is awesome) and toast at 400 degrees until browned (anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes).
Roasted Pumpkin: Roasted pumpkin is an excellent base for pureed pumpkin used in breads, muffins and smoothies or it’s great on its own as a side dish. To roast pumpkin, cut a small pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet, cut side down, in a 400-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until tender.
Pumpkin Soup: Use your homemade roasted pumpkin or use canned for a quick weeknight dinner. Simmer pumpkin puree, chicken stock, salt, chopped onion, thyme and garlic for 30 minutes. Puree the soup using a food processor or blender, return to pot and simmer another 30 minutes. Add heavy cream and serve.
Pumpkin Smoothie: Get the flavor of pumpkin pie or pumpkin latte without the excess sugar and cream. Blend pumpkin puree with Greek yogurt and a little milk to create a base to which you can then add more flavor and textures. Additional fruit, like bananas or berries, can be added and a touch of sweetener, like maple syrup. Don’t forget the pumpkin pie spice.
Add these recipes to your favorites for a healthy way to enjoy pumpkin all year long!