Every October, foodies around the web go a little pumpkin crazy, posting recipe after recipe and incorporating it into every meal possible. I've unabashedly had three cans of Libby's hoarded since last spring just in case I got a spontaneous craving. Generally though, I'll have gotten my fill by the time the weather gets warmer and I can usually handle the wait until fall rolls around again.
Thankfully, pumpkin is incredibly healthy. You could always buy a whole pumpkin and bake it, but I find it far easier to buy in cans. You just have to be sure to buy the 100% Pure Pumpkin as opposed to the "Pumpkin Pie Mix" that has added sugars. The 100% Pure Pumpkin is just pumpkin that has been cooked and pureed, and has only 80 calories per cup.
Pumpkin is a complex carbohydrate that can help control blood sugar levels. It has about 380 percent of our daily need for vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene which helps prevent cell damage and is great for eye health. Pumpkin also has vitamin C to help grow and repair tissue, iron for the development of red blood cells, and potassium to avoid muscle ache and fatigue.
Pumpkin pretty much rocks, and it's definitely not just for pie on Thanksgiving. I find it's easiest to incorporate into my breakfast. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
Combine one container of plain Greek yogurt with two tablespoons of canned pumpkin, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, and a bit of sweetener like honey, stevia, or maple syrup. I use a few drops of NuNaturals vanilla stevia. Top with apples, bananas, chia seeds, oats, granola, almond butter...the options are endless!
Prepare one serving of oatmeal as you normally would on the stovetop or in the microwave, and add 1/3 cup of canned pumpkin when it's almost finished cooking. Add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, and a bit of sweetener like honey, stevia, or maple syrup. This is especially delicious with melted almond butter and some crunchy granola on top.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Combine one cup of milk (whichever type you prefer), ½ cup of canned pumpkin, ½ scoop of vanilla protein powder, and ½ frozen banana in a blender. Add one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, a splash of vanilla extract, and a little bit of stevia, honey, or maple syrup. Blend and add ice until desired consistency is reached.
Clare Brady is a Healthy Living Blogger currently living in Dallas, Texas but originally from St. Louis, Missouri. On her blog, Fitting It All In, Clare shares her experiences with living a healthy lifestyle while balancing a busy schedule. Currently she is working full-time as advertising account executive, seeing clients as a Certified Holistic Health Coach, exercising often, cooking as much as possible, and making sure to spend time with friends. You can find Clare on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.