Pumpkins and More Pumpkins!October 31, 2014
by Stephanie Middleberg, MS, RD, CDN
I’m pretty obsessed with pumpkin (real pumpkin, not pumpkin spice flavoring), which isn’t exactly rare this time of year. But this fall icon is a lot more than a latte flavor and Halloween decor — it’s delicious and nutritious, and it can be added to almost anything (see the included PDF of my favorite pumpkin recipes).
Pumpkin is an excellent source of carotenes, vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber — a magical combo for your skin (natural beta carotene glow), digestion, PMS symptoms, immune system, and eyesight. The real treasure, though, is in the seeds. One ounce (roughly 1/4 cup or 140 seeds) is packed with magnesium (50% of your daily count!), potassium, zinc, and protein.
A cup of cooked pumpkin has over 500mg of potassium (more so than bananas) that help restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a hard workout. Pumpkin seeds are a great, plant-based source of tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in calming the mind. Trytophan (of Turkey infamy) is the precursor to serotonin, which helps with sleep, a good mood and lower anxiety.
Also, and one of my favorites, pumpkin is great to curb a sweet tooth. It’s low in sugar, high in fiber but gives off a slightly sweet taste and creamy texture. I use it in smoothies, muffins, pancakes, energy bites and as sauces. Or I simply bake it and add some spices for a satisfying snack. Lastly, I will blend it with vanilla yogurt and make ice cubes for a satisfying dessert.
See some of my favorite pumpkin recipes from around the web.
Click here to check out some of my favorite pumpkin recipes!
To find out more check out her website at www.middlebergnutrition.com.