Ok, so maybe pumpkin pie for dinner isn’t the greatest idea, but September does mark the beginning of fall and the start of pumpkin season. I’ve always loved pumpkin and pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, but last fall I began experimenting with canned pumpkin in other ways. I even drove my roommates a little crazy with all my pumpkin experiments like pumpkin whoopie pies and peanut butter pumpkin blondies. Pumpkin not only makes tasty snacks, breakfasts, and desserts, but it has numerous healthy qualities.
Pumpkin gets its orange color from carotenoids. Carotenoids are a source of vitamin A and are antioxidants that protect cells from damage and enhance your immune system. Pumpkins are very high in vitamin A, one half cup of canned pumpkin provides 380% of the daily value of vitamin A. Pumpkin also has antioxidants leutin and zeaxanthin which neutralize free radicals that cause eye damage.
Pumpkin also has vitamin C and zinc, for a healthy immune system. Pumpkin is a good source of iron, a mineral our body needs for transporting oxygen through our blood. (info from www.whfoods.com)
1/2 cup of canned pumpkin clocks in at only 50 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein.
How to add more pumpkin to your diet
Unfortunately pumpkin spice coffee and pumpkin donuts from DD won’t get you many of the health benefits of pumpkin. However, if you like pumpkin it can easily be incorporated into almost any meal.
I like to mix about 1/4cup of canned pumpkin with 3/4cup of plain or vanilla yogurt, plus a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkles some cereal or granola on top and it’s like a pumpkin pie mousse for breakfast. You can also use pumpkin yogurt to top pancakes, waffles or french toast. You could also mix a few tablespoons of pumpkin into oatmeal for a tasty fall treat.
Pumpkin can by roasted and sauteed to use as a side dish to any meal. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe for pumpkin-apple soup.
Pumpkin, in canned or fresh pureed form, can be used as a fat substitute in baking. Just replace any amount of fat (butter, oil, shortening) with equal parts of pumpkin. It will give recipes a distinct pumpkin flavor. Here are some links to various pumpkin recipes:
A few pumpkin tips
When buying canned pumpkin make sure to get pure canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling is sweetened and has lots of other added ingredients.
If you’re ordering pumpkin spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts note that it is sweetened syrup they add to your coffee. There is 160 calories in a medium pumpkin spice coffee with 3 pumps of syrup. You can ask for 1 or 1 and 1/2 pumps to save calories and sugar, but still get the pumpkin-y flavor.
Happy Pumpkin Season!
P.S. Expect more frequent updates by the end of the month. I am in the midst of studying for the GRE’s and therefore don’t have as much time as I’d like to focus on the blog, but I’m doing as much as I can to update a few times a week. I hope to have daily posts by October. Stay tuned!!