It’s always a bummer to retire our jorts, gazpacho, and summer tomatoes… But now, we’re in prime-time pumpkin season. Thanks to some marketing genius, “pumpkin-spice anything*” is given all the credit.
I want to give a little more glory to the source: the actual pumpkin.
The health benefits of the pumpkin are plentiful, yet often overlooked because that pumpkin-spiced latte is so distracting and so damn tasty. (Heads up: It’s not really that good for you.)
Here are the pumpkin-perks we can get excited about:
- Fiber = Full – Mashed pumpkin (the flesh) is high in fiber, but low in calories. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds before holiday season, don’t wait until Thanksgiving to fill up on pumpkin. Fiber helps you feel fuller longer and helps controls blood sugar levels. (Spikes in blood sugar level lead to wild cravings.)
- Immunity Booster – It is high in vitamin C and beta-carotene, much like it’s other orange friend – the orange. (Orange slices aren’t as fulfilling as a dinner side dish, though).
- Eye Health – Remember that vitamin C and beta-carotene I was just bragging about? Pumpkin also contains vitamin E. This trio helps prevent age-related macular degeneration. Eye like this.
- Sleep Enhancement – Pumpkin seeds contain a rich amount of tryptophan. You probably recognize the name of this amino acid as the culprit for sleepiness after turkey dinner. (It might be the turkey, it might be the fact that you just ate your weight in food. Think about it.) Your body converts tryptophan into serotonin, which is then converted into melatonin – the “sleep hormone”. If you’re popping a melatonin supplement each day, try popping some pumpkin seeds (pepitas!) into your mouth a few hours before bedtime instead.
Incorporating fresh pumpkin into your diet will serve up the most potent health benefits. If this sounds like too much work, remind yourself of every single time you’ve carved out a jack-o-lantern and then let it rot on your front porch…
If you’re tight on time and energy, canned pumpkin is a fine second choice. (PS – If you buy it canned, it should only read this single word in the ingredients list: pumpkin.)
I am relatively new to cooking with pumpkin, so I don’t have my own recipes crafted just yet. Here are some of my recent faves that have brought my tastebuds, my appetite, and my eyeballs much joy:
- How To Make Pumpkin Puree
- Pumpkin Chia Oatmeal
- Classic Pumpkin Oatmeal
- Pumpkin Muffins
- Roasted Pumpkin With Shallots + Sage
- Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- Pumpkin Vegetarian Chili
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – add your favorite spices
I know you’re out there carving this week.. don’t let those guts and seeds go to waste. Want to learn about more seasonal superfoods? Share a recipe? Contact me here!
*Pumpkin-spice doesn’t actually contain any element of pumpkin. Truth.