There is probably a lot you don’t know about this “fruit,” including the health benefits of pumpkin. Although pumpkin is nutritionally more similar to vegetables than fruit, pumpkin is scientifically considered a fruit because it contains seeds. This fruit is native to North America and is a type of winter squash that is popular around Halloween and Thanksgiving. How many of you love when the pumpkin spice latte is available at your local coffee shop?
Let’s talk for a minute about the health benefits of pumpkin.
- Because pumpkin is about 90% water, it is relatively low in calories. Besides containing less than 50 calories per cup, pumpkin is rich in fiber which will help keep you feeling fuller longer.
- It is packed with vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of beta-carotene (note it’s brilliant orange coloring), which your body converts to vitamin A. High vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin in pumpkin may protect your eyes against sight loss. As crazy as it sounds, this also allows pumpkin to act as a natural sunblock and helps keep your skin strong and healthy.
- Pumpkin has high antioxidant content which reduces risk of chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer. It is also high in vitamins A and C which help aid the immune system.
- This fruit is delicious, versatile and easy to add to your diet. We have seen it as a popular ingredient in coffee flavorings, pies, cakes, soups and roasted vegetables. The seeds are also edible and may improve bladder and heart health.
Did you know that processing can change pumpkin’s health benefits? This is a great article that we found. It’s worth the read if you like to cook with pumpkin.
How Processing Changes Pumpkin’s Health Benefits
Here’s a case where canned may be better than fresh
Read in Consumer Reports: https://apple.news/ADHozCdM3Q7GJa5tX6ostWA
Pumpkin can be found in many varieties. You can buy a whole pumpkin, find it pre-cut or canned.
- Whole pumpkins have a very tough skin so you may need a few muscles to slice into it. Once you cut it, scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts, then slice the pumpkin into wedges for easiest handling. Just add salt and pepper and roast the pumpkin for a delicious side dish.
- When buying canned pumpkin, be sure to read the labels carefully. Not all canned pumpkin will be 100% pumpkin. Watch this closely and specifically avoid added ingredients such as sugar.
Here are a few anti-inflammatory recipes you will love that include pumpkin:
Creamy Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp
- 2 ¼ lbs shrimp
- 2 cups canned pumpkin
- ½ lb carrots sliced
- ⅓ lb yellow onion diced
- ½ lb zucchini diced
- 20 oz coconut milk
- 26 oz chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 ½ Tbsp garlic minced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp ground sage
- 1 ½ Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp cayenne powder or to taste
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon or to taste
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- Refrigerate coconut milk one day prior to preparation so the coconut cream is solid on top.
- Peel, devein and remove tails from shrimp.
- In a soup pot, add carrots, onions and all seasoning to chicken broth and allow to cook on medium heat until onions are translucent and carrots are soft.
- Slowly stir in pumpkin until mixed through.
- Add coconut milk and allow to simmer for 35-40 minutes, adding zucchini into the pot in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- While soup is simmering, sauté shrimp until pink and cooked through.
- Divide soup evenly into 6 soup bowls. Top each bowl with 6 oz shrimp and serve hot!
- 7 oz almond flour
- 8 oz pumpkin canned
- 4 eggs
- ¼ Tbsp coconut oil
- ½ Tbsp vanilla
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ¼ Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp almond butter
- 1 ⅓ Tbsp pumpkin pie spice see recipe below
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 Tbsp Truvia or powdered stevia
- ½ cup coconut palm sugar
- Preheat oven to 325°F and line jumbo muffin tin with liners.
- Break up the coconut palm sugar using a food processor if necessary.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, almond butter, honey and vanilla. Mix well, approximately 2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, be sure to sift cream of tartar and baking soda.
- Pour batter ¾ full into each muffin cup.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pans and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- This recipe is for jumbo muffins. If you make this in regular size muffin tins you will likely have leftover batter. Line a second tin with muffin liners and enjoy additional muffins.
- Muffins freeze well so feel free to make multiple batches and freeze what you don’t eat right away. Pop them out of the freezer and microwave about 30-45 seconds for a quick breakfast or snack on the run.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
- ¼ cup ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cardamom optional
- Mix all ingredients until well combined.
- Store in an airtight container up to 3 months.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 Tbsp powdered stevia
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- pinch salt
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients until well combined.
- Add in almond milk, pumpkin and vinegar. Mix batter with a hand mixer on low, until smooth.
- In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Spoon batter into the pan, about 2 Tbsp per pancake, and cook until browned and cooked through, flipping with a spatula. Continue until all batter is used.
- Serve with pure maple syrup or fresh fruit and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- If you do not want to use all of the batter at one time, refrigerate it for later use. Or, mix up a double batch and refrigerate the batter to make additional pancakes throughout the week. Want to cook all of the pancakes at once? They freeze well too!
Rejuvenating Pumpkin Mask
- 2 cups pureed or canned pumpkin
- 4 Tbsp plain unflavored yogurt
- ⅓ cup finely ground almonds
- 4 Tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp olive oil
- In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients until full incorporated.
- Apply to cleansed skin and let sit 5-10 minutes while you enjoy a bath or shower (the enzymes are most active when moist).
- Remove with a clean microfiber cloth and follow up with your favorite moisturizer.
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