By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
Fall is my favorite season, especially living in New England with sunny days, cool, brisk autumn nights, vibrant foliage, apple and pumpkin picking, warm cider, hayrides and cozying up around the fireplace and of course delicious, versatile comforting produce. Butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, roasted herbed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, onions, garlic, and countless varieties of apples just to name a few!
Here are my boys picking fresh pumpkins!
Since pumpkin-flavored everything is all the rage this time of year, let’s look at the beautiful vegetable and why it got its fame.
Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, an important antioxidant linked to lower rates of certain cancers including breast cancer and lung cancer. Studies suggest a reduced risk of developing estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in women who consumed more carotene rich foods and a carotenoid-rich diet may reduce the risk of recurrence of breast cancer. Other studies suggest carotene-rich foods may protect against many other types of cancer (prostate, esophagus, head and neck, stomach, colon, ovary, kidney, bladder, pancreas, cervix, and skin), as well as heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.
Pumpkin is also high in fiber which is important for healthy digestion, hunger and weight control, healthy heart and cancer prevention.
Since sugar pumpkins are the best for cooking, I’m sharing a step-by-step guide on how to cook and use pumpkin in recipes. Check it out here and start cooking your pumpkin!
Once your pumpkin is cooked, here are the many ways I love to enjoy it.
My Top 9 Favorite Ways to Enjoy October Pumpkins.
1. Roast Seeds. Scoop from pumpkin and rinse, removing stringy flesh. Lay flat to dry. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet covered in parchment paper with dry pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and add spices or simply sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Try cumin for a kick. Serve plain or on top of oatmeal, salads, chili, etc.
2. Make Pumpkin Apple Muffins
Add roasted pumpkin to your favorite muffin recipe. Mix with or use to replace banana or zucchini. For a gluten free, vegan version, combine GF flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract, flax seed, water, oil, baked apples with cinnamon & honey (or applesauce), roasted pumpkin, almond or coconut milk then bake on 350 for about 18 minutes.
3. Make Pumpkin Waffles
Add roasted pumpkin to your favorite waffle recipe.
4. Impress Your Guests with Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes
Mix half baked potato with half roasted pumpkin when making mashed potatoes.
5. Blend Your Roasted Pumpkin
The Pumpkin Apple Smoothie is a favorite! Blend roasted pumpkin with apples, spices, pears, and more for a delicious fall smoothie.
6. Add Raw Pumpkin to Your Juice
In the Fall Harvest Cinnamon Juice you use raw pumpkin for a naturally sweet juice and a high yield. Wash well and leave rind on when juicing. Cut carefully to fit into juicer chute.
7. Warm Up to Pumpkin Soup
Combine roasted pumpkin with onions, garlic, apple, a touch of curry for a warm, filling yet light meal on a cool autumn evening or Sunday afternoon.
8. Full Up on Pumpkin Chili
Add roasted pumpkin and cinnamon to your favorite spicy chili. Hot, sweet and unexpectedly delicious!
9. Sweeten Your Season with Pumpkin Date Bars
Try using pumpkin, instead of the date filling to this Raw Date Square Crumble.
How do you use your pumpkin?!