Pumpkin may be a Fall flavor, but the health benefits are good all year! Whether you want a sweet or savory pumpkin dish, you'll be getting so many great healthy benefits too.
Here are some of the potential health benefits of consuming pumpkin:
EYE HEALTH & IMMUNITY
+ Pumpkin gets its orange coloring from beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is helpful for our eyes and immune system. Incorporating a 1 cup serving of pumpkin puree has 250% of our recommended daily amount of vitamin A.
+ Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, like many fruits. Canned pumpkin puree contains 7 g of fiber per 1 cup serving. Fiber helps the body remove cholesterol, keeping blood sugars from spiking and helping to regulate bowel movements. Additionally, it helps us to feel fuller, for longer. This satiation aspect can decrease overeating and help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
+ If you're someone who strives for heart healthy foods, start adding in pumpkin. Heart healthy typically means low fat, low salt, low sugar, and high fiber. Adding in pumpkin puree, even just a 1/2 cup serving, has almost no fat, practically no salt and no added sugar.
+ Nearly 1/3 of Americans have high blood pressure. Consuming pumpkin can help to decrease high blood pressure, which contains potassium. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure, as well as helps with bone health, and decreases the risk of diabetes. Adding a 1/2 cup serving of pumpkin puree, gives you about 10% of your daily potassium.
LOW IN CALORIES
+ When you think of pumpkin, you may think of desserts first, which often comes with lots of calories. However, it's not the pumpkin giving you those calories, it's coming from the fat and sugar added into the dessert recipes. Because of this, people may think of pumpkin in a negative sense, but in reality pumpkin puree contains only 83 calories and is 90% water.
+ Now that we know pumpkin is lower in calories, you may be questioning the nutritional benefits. In fact, a lot of fruits and vegetables are considered nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense means that while they're low in calories, they're packed with a ton of vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy. In other terms, you may only need a small amount, like 1 cup or 1/2 cup, to gain the health benefits. In contrast, if you eat a plate of french fries, that's a lot of calories but not providing many benefits and also takes awhile for your body to tap into your hungry cues, hence why we can just keep mindlessly eating them.
+ Let's not forget about the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are small but mighty. They're packed with minerals such as magnesium, zinc, as well as fiber. According to the American Heart Association, 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds had almost half of our daily recommended amount of magnesium. Magnesium helps to lower blood pressure and maintain good bone health. Most Americans don't get enough magnesium, but a simple food source to start adding in are pumpkin seeds.
+ Similar to mashed banana, pumpkin can be be a great substitute in baking. You can sub pumpkin puree for oil in a 1:1 ratio. If the recipe calls for 1 cup oil, instead try 1 cup pumpkin puree. Another example, sub pumpkin for butter. The ratio for butter would be 1 cup butter to 3/4 cup pumpkin (multiple the amount of butter in the recipe by three-fourths, or .75).
If you want to make a recipe vegan by skipping the eggs, you can sub 1/4 cup pumpkin puree per egg. The texture may change when you make any of these substitutes, but experiment with it and you may love the results!
+ We've mentioned a lot of sweet recipes, but pumpkin is just as good in a savory setting. You can roast pumpkin in the oven like any other squash, make a delicious soup, make a pasta dish, add it to your smoothies, etc. And don't forget to use the seeds too.
MORE VALUES TO CONSIDER:
+ A serving of pumpkin provides 19% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, an immune booster that helps reduce cell damage from free radicals.
+ Carotenoids combat the effects of free radicals in your body, which may help protect against certain types of cancer.
+ Clinical studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil may be beneficial in the treatment of cardiovascular problems of menopausal women and ailments associated with imbalance of sex hormones.
Now that we know some of the key nutritional elements that come from pumpkin, check out the recipe below.
VEGAN PUMPKIN BREAD RECIPE
You are going to love this delicious vegan pumpkin bread recipe. It's a one-bowl kind of recipe, which who doesn't appreciate that? The spice is perfect and the texture is similar to what you get from Starbucks. I topped mine with butter that melted from it being freshly baked, yum!
1 cup organic pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
1 1/2 cups organic coconut sugar
1 Tbsp dairy free yogurt, plain (at room temp)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pumpkin spice blend
1/4 tsp ground ginger spice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups gluten-free 1:1 baking flour
*optional: 1 scoop or sachet of plain collagen powder
Step 1: Preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Use an 8" or 9" loaf pan and line with parchment paper, set aside.
Step 2: Wet ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpking puree, coconut sugar, dairy-free yogurt, olive oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
Step 3: Spices and such.
Add in the sea salt, pumpkin spice, ginger spice, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
Step 4: Add the flour.
Add in the flour gradually, and whisk until just combined with the wet ingredients. Make sure not to over-mix the batter. If there are clumps, it's okay, just be sure there's no dry mix showing.
Step 5: Time to bake.
Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Place the bread into the oven to bake. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Once timer goes off, remove from oven and use the toothpick method to make sure it comes out clean and is fully cooked through.
Your Vegan Pumpkin Bread will need to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. For storage, wrap the bread in plastic wrap and and leave at room temp for about 2 days or store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Also, you could slice the bread and place into freezer bag, and store in freezer for up to 1 month - to reheat, use tinfoil and heat for 5 minutes at 350 F degrees.
Let me know if you try this recipe and tag me on social media @gigiikent.
Sources & Research: