When most people think “pumpkin”, they think of pumpkin pie or carving one up for Halloween. But that is unfortunate! This food has a lot going for it nutritionally yet is one of the most neglected healthy foods.
6 Healthy Reasons to Eat Pumpkin
Pumpkin is one of the best nutrition bargains around and should be part of any healthy diet. You can start with fresh pumpkin or buy canned. I almost always use fresh vegetables, but in this case I’m sticking to canned. I’ve tried starting from scratch, but decided the slicing, cleaning, baking, and mashing wasn’t a good use of my time.
(If you know a way to make this process easier, please share it!)
Pumpkin is loaded with fiber and contains a mere 50 calories per cup. Here are some of the most notable nutritional qualities of pumpkin:
- Vitamin A — one cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200% of your recommended daily intake
- Beta-carotene — a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent
- Vitamins C and E — antioxidant vitamins that are synergistically helpful for brain function and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Potassium — contains more than bananas and makes a great post-workout food
- Magnesium — largely missing from our diets, aids the body with hundreds of functions
- Pantothenic acid — one of the B vitamins, helps to manage stress
FUN FACT! Since pumpkin contains seeds, it is technically a fruit and not a vegetable.
So Much More than Pie
It seems there isn’t anything you can’t do with this versatile food. You can add it to almost any dish to add fiber, color, flavor, and nutrition. It makes a great low-cal substitute for oil when baking.
Canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie are available year round but at this time of year, you can find pumpkin versions of ice cream, bread mix, ravioli, cream cheese spread, yogurt, butter, soup, pancake mix, cereal bars, and chocolate mousse cake! If you prefer to drink your pumpkin, there is pumpkin ale and pumpkin spice coffee, chai, and rooibos tea.
And the award for Trader Joe’s most creative use of pumpkin would have to go to their pumpkin-flavored dog treats. This isn’t as weird as it sounds. Dogs love pumpkin and many vets recommend it to aid their digestion and help keep their weight down
Raw food enthusiasts have recipes for raw pumpkin soup, raw pumpkin pie, and raw pumpkin smoothies.
Easy Curry Pumpkin Soup Recipe
Keep canned pumpkin in stock and you can whip up this delicious, low-calorie soup in under 20 minutes.
Puree the following in a blender ’til smooth:
- 1/4 cup sauteed onion, finely chopped
- 1 small can of pumpkin puree (15 oz unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 dash cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
Transfer to a pot and heat on low until hot. Just before serving, add 1/2 cup room-temperature milk (or non-dairy milk) and 2 tablespoons sherry (optional). If you slowly add some milk to each individual serving and stir gently, you can easily get an elegant swirl effect.
Sprinkle with scallion or fresh chives for an added touch of color or add pumpkin seeds to keep the theme going.
Out of pumpkin? This recipe works equally well substituting two cups of cooked carrots or butternut squash for the pumpkin.
Don’t let another fall pass you buy without taking advantage of one of this season’s greatest bounties – the amazing, neglected superfood – pumpkin.
Do you suffer from stress, memory loss, brain fog, anxiety, depression, insomnia, indecision, or are easily overwhelmed? These are all signs that your brain isn’t working as well as it should.
Deane Alban passionately believes that “when your brain gets fit, your whole life gets better”. She is the author of Brain Gold: The Anti-Aging Guide for Your Brain and co-founder of BeBrainFit.com, where you can learn how to keep your brain young, healthy, and fully-functioning for life.
Sign up for her newsletter and claim your FREE Special Bonus Report – “Beat Brain Aging: 5 Major Causes, 1 Simple Solution”.