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Passion for Pumpkin

May 7th, 2009 No Comments

Passion for Pumpkin — Nutritionista
I’m guessing the only times you ever think about pumpkin is at Thanksgiving (mmm, pie) or Halloween. But really, you should be thinking about pumpkin a lot more often. Canned pumpkin rounds out the New York Times’ list of the 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating for good reason: it’s low-calorie, chock full of vitamins, and can be used in a variety of ways to spice up your menu. 

Pumpkin, like all winter squash, has about 145% of your recommended daily value of vitamin A, over 30% RDV of vitamin C, 25% fiber, and even 15% omega-3 fatty acids. Not bad for one little veggie, right? And since canned, pureed pumpkin is sold inexpensively in most grocery stores, there’s no reason why you can’t eat it year-round. So how can you take advantage of all that the forgotten squash has to offer? To get you started, here are just a few things you can do with canned pumpkin:

  • Add it to quinoa, rice, oatmeal, or millet for breakfast.
  • Put some in your plain or vanilla yogurt with some spices and nuts to create pumpkin pie yogurt.
  • Make pumpkin pancakes/waffles by adding it to batter (whole wheat batter, of course).
  • Deviate from traditional red sauce and make a pumpkin pasta sauce.
  • Stir it into soups, stews, or broths for more complex flavor. I love the idea of pumpkin turkey chili. It lends a creamy flavor to soup without using cream.
  • Use it as a savory spread on sandwiches (it’d be great with almond butter!).
  • Blend it into juices, smoothies, or protein shakes.
  • Eat it plain! I microwave it with some lemon juice, spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, clove, etc.), a few nuts, and a drop of honey. It actually tastes great on its own… like the inside of a pumpkin pie!
  • Scoop some on baked fruit, like apples or pears.

Remember, the key to enjoying healthy food is thinking outside the box and creating delicious flavors without adding lots of calories (I think that’s the easy way out). Foods like pumpkin, that are versatile, cheap, and easily accessible, make it easy to do just that.