By: Kristin M. MacDonald, MS, RD, LDN
Owner, Healthy Appetites Nutrition Counseling, L.L.C.
Each year with the dawn of October there is an increase in pumpkin-flavored everything. From baked goods to Halloween candy, lattes to beer, it is hard to enter the store without noticing pumpkin goodies on the shelves. Often these fall-time treats are not the healthiest options. Many of these foods are loaded with sugar and are far removed from the whole pumpkins we carve into jack-o-lanterns and decoratively place on our doorsteps.
Although I am certainly a fan of this seasonal food, I would encourage you to think about eating pumpkin in a fresher, less processed state. Pumpkin is part of the squash family. It lends itself to both sweet and savory dishes and it pairs nicely with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Read on to learn more about the nutritional benefits of pumpkin and creative ways to prepare and enjoy it this season.
The flesh of a pumpkin and its seeds are both edible. Pumpkin flesh is low in calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium. In fact, one cup of pumpkin has only 83 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and magnesium. Fiber provides satiety and can aid in digestion and weight management. Antioxidants, vitamins A and C, contribute to reduced inflammation and immune support. Magnesium supports heart health. Pumpkin seeds also have nutritional benefits. They are high in protein, fiber, iron, Vitamin K and important minerals, such as copper and zinc.
Both pumpkin flesh and seeds are used as ingredients in baked goods. Enjoy pumpkin seeds roasted, in trail mix and in granola bars. Pumpkin can be enjoyed sautéed with vegetables and beans. It can even be found as filling for ravioli!
Check out this month’s feature food recipe - Pumpkin Banana Pancakes with Maple Yogurt!
These pancakes make for a hearty, satisfying and healthy breakfast. They are low in sugar and help you start your day with protein and fiber, a dynamic duo! Pumpkin pie spice and maple provide the fall flavors we all love. I hope you enjoy!
1 banana, mashed
½ cup pureed pumpkin
1 ½ cups oats, blended into an “oat flour”
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter for cooking
¼ cup plain, low-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1) Combine banana, pumpkin, egg, oats and pumpkin pie spice in a medium mixing bowl to form pancake batter.
2) In a medium sauté pan heat coconut oil or butter over medium heat until melted and pan is coated.
3) Dollop pancake batter into the pan using a spoon and spread the batter out using the back of the spoon.
4) Cook pancakes for about 2 to 3 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
5) Combine yogurt and maple syrup. Drizzle mixture over plated pancakes and serve.
Recipe yields ~ 6 medium pancakes