As soon as the leaves change color and the sun begins to rise later and set sooner, it feels like Fall.
There is a noticeable crisp in the air and the addition of extra layers is a prominent part of our daily wardrobe. Holiday decorations become a staple of every store and among the pictures of witches and ghosts are bright, orange symbols of this Autumn season – pumpkins!
A lot of people think that the only reason they should buy pumpkins is to carve jack-o-lanterns, otherwise they purchase them in the form of pies, cookies, ice cream or coffee drinks. What most peopledon’t realize, however, is how beneficial these big balls of Fall are for their bodies.
Pumpkin is a vegetable carbohydrate. Can you believe it? Even though we normally see it edible in the form of treats, it is in the same family as squash and cucumber and is made up of some major vitamins and minerals. It contains Vitamin A, C, K & E and minerals like potassium. It even contains Calcium and Protein! It also has antioxidants which we know help clean out our system and strengthen our immune system – which is something we all need to do more of as soon as it starts getting cold outside. They can really be any color, depending on where they were cultivated – but we all know that orange is the traditional and most-widely identifiable one.
So how can you access all of these natural benefits? It’s all on the inside!
A pumpkin is made up of a tough outer shell, much like a butternut squash has a gourd-like skin. Every part of the inside can be eaten, including the seeds. (The stringy stuff that comes out too couldbe eaten but it doesn’t really taste like much!) The seeds (also called pepitas – yep, that’s what that word on the menu means) can be roasted and our proven to have major health benefits to us as well. After roasting, they taste delicious on salads, as part of your own granola mix or just as a nutritious alternative to nuts. The possibilities are endless for the rest of the ‘guts’ on the inside. You can make your very own pumpkin puree and add it to your almond-flour pancakes for a holiday treat. The puree is also delicious in protein shakes for a little extra carbohydrate boost pre or post workout. My favorite way to eat pumpkin is in a butternut-pumpkin soup. This is the perfect combination to fight away any cold – it’s Mom’s famous ‘Chicken Noodle Soup’ cure but with a modern (and much healthier) twist! Of course you can also make your own version of pumpkin pie that will taste so much fresher than anything you could buy at the grocery store. The possibilities are really endless.
The biggest thing we can learn from the ‘Pros’ of pumpkins is that we can really utilize them in our diets year round. They last for about 6 months in the whole form and up to a year or more in a can. Because of the proven diseases and illnesses that it can help prevent, we can all benefit from spending a little more time with ‘The Great Pumpkin’.
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