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.
Did you ever think about making a soup with pumpkin? At Feed Your Vitality, our Creamy Pumpkin Soup was a hit, even for vegetarians. If you are vegetarian and want to try this easy, healthy anti-inflammatory recipe, simply leave out the shrimp and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
Creamy Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp
- 2 ¼ lbs shrimp
- 2 cups canned pumpkin
- ½ lb carrots, sliced
- 1/3 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
- 1/8 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!
Servings: 12 jumbo muffins
- 7 oz almond flour
- 8 oz pumpkin, canned
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp almond butter
- 1 1/3 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (see recipe below)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 Tbsp Truvia or powdered stevia
- 1/2 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 on 325°F 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
- 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
- Mix all ingredients until well combined.
- Store in an airtight container up to 3 months.
Rejuvenating Pumpkin Mask
Yes, it’s true! Because of it’s diverse nutrient profile, pumpkin is also a hit in skincare. Prevention.com tells us that pumpkin contains vitamins that hydrate, firm and protect the skin; anti-inflammatory compounds that soothe; and enzymes that gently exfoliate. When you’re cooking for the holidays, prep what you need for a mask to. This is good for a week when stored in the refrigerator!
- 2 cups pureed or canned pumpkin
- 4 Tbsp plain, unflavored yogurt
- 1/3 cup finely ground almonds
- 4 Tbsp honey
- 1/4 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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