Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin!! Danielle Sikorski, registered dietitian



Pumpkin is Actually Full of Nutrients! 

One of my favorite things about fall is the abundance of pumpkin! Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Butter…the list goes on. I bet that so many of you jump on the pumpkin bandwagon without realizing the nutritional benefits that you’re getting from the squash and even its seeds! Granted, if it’s combined with excessive amounts of butter, sugar, and flour the benefits dwindle in comparison to the gut-bomb you’re packing in ;)

So…what’s so great about pumpkin?

The flesh is packed with beta-carotene, the powerful antioxidant that is responsible for giving orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color and which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Consuming beta-carotene has been shown to aid in immunity, cancer prevention, heart health, blood pressure and vision!  

According to the USDA National Nutrient database, one cup of pumpkin, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt contains 49 calories, 1.76 grams of protein, 0.17 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol  and 12 grams of carbohydrate (including 2.7 grams of fiber and 5.1 grams of sugar).

Consuming one cup of cooked, canned pumpkin would provide well over 100% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 20% of the daily value for vitamin C, 10% or more for vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese at least 5% for thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Pumpkin 1


Instead of tossing the seeds or the pumpkin flesh after carving…eat them!

Using fresh pumpkin and preparing it yourself will give you the most health benefits, but if you’re limited on time, canned pumpkin is a healthy option as well. Be sure to steer clear of canned pumpkin pie mix, which is usually right next to the canned pumpkin in grocery stores and in a similar can but has added sugars, syrups, etc. Canned pumpkin should have only one ingredient: pumpkin.

The seeds of a pumpkin are loaded with phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc and iron. After pumpkin carving, season the seeds with a little paprika, sea salt and cayenne pepper. Then place them on a baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes (or until desired texture is reached). Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of healthy fats, protein and fiber. A 1/4th cup serving provides 9 grams of protein! Instead of nuts, use these in trail mix or throw them in salads for a nice crunch!

Let THIS Holiday Season be different. Rather than allowing sugar to take center stage, I challenge you to embrace the goodness of Pumpkin in its natural form. Sure, add some things to spruce it up, but only to highlight its natural flavors.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread from amyshealthybaking.com

I can’t give pumpkin recipes without providing the classic pumpkin bread option. With the suggested alternatives, this can be made gluten and dairy free! Instead of large amounts of oil or butter, this recipe uses pureed pumpkin and yogurt to yield a nice, moist loaf. Leftovers will stay fresh if stored in an airtight container (or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap) and refrigerated for at least 5 days.

Yields: 1 loaf

  • 2 cups (240g) whole wheat or gluten-free* flour (measured correctly)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp (14g) coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (244g) pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup (60g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt (or plain Coconut Milk Yogurt)
  • ⅓ cup (80mL) pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup (60mL) nonfat milk (or non-dairy milk)
  • 3 tbsp (42g) miniature chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat a 9×5” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg whites, and vanilla. Stir in the pumpkin purée and Greek yogurt, mixing until no large lumps remain. Stir in the maple syrup. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Fold in 2 ½ tablespoons of chocolate chips.
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, and gently press the remaining chocolate chips into the top of the batter. Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully transferring onto a wire rack.

Notes: For the gluten-free flour, use as follows: 1 cup (120g) millet flour, ½ cup (60g) tapioca flour, ½ cup (60g) brown rice flour, and 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum.

Any milk may be substituted for the nonfat milk.

Honey or agave may be substituted for the pure maple syrup. Alternatively, the same amount of brown sugar plus an additional 3 tablespoons of milk may be substituted for the pure maple syrup, but the loaf would no longer be clean eating friendly.

Roasted Pumpkin Seed Hummus from Tieghan at Havebakedharvest.com

Hummus is a great healthy snack when paired with fresh cut veggies. Instead of traditional garbanzo beans and tahini, this recipe utilizes pumpkin seeds and Cannellini beans! Give this a try as an alternative to the standard hummus. It’s a great way to switch up the nutrients your body gets and to add a bit of excitement to your afternoon snack!

Prep Time : 10  Cook Time:  20 min Total Time : 25 min

serving size: 2-4 As An Appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 4 gloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini/great northern beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pita breadNaan bread or fresh veggies, for serving

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheet or line with aluminum foil.

Right on the pan add the the pumpkin seeds (pepitas), 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, salt and pepper. Toss well with your hands. Add the garlic cloves to one side of the pan (leave them in their skin). Roast for about 15-25 minutes or until seeds are cooked and begin to lightly brown. Remove the pan every 10 minutes to stir the seeds and check for doneness. Remove from the oven, let cool 5 minutes and then peel the skin away from the garlic. If the the garlic is not tender and fragrant when the seeds are done roasting, wrap them in foil and continue to roast until soft and roasted.

Add the pumpkin seeds to a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms, scrap down the sides as needed. This took about 5 minutes. Once the pumpkin seeds form a paste, add the beans and garlic. Pulse and blend until combined and the beans begin to puree, about 2-3 minutes. With the processor still going, stream in olive oil, blending continuously for a few minutes (and scraping down the sides if needed) until as smooth as desired. Add the remaining, 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder and smoked paprika. Blend until combined add some salt + pepper and taste, adding more if desired. Add hummus to a bowl and drizzle with extra olive oil. Start dippin!

Roasted Garlic Sage Pesto Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Fried Pumpkin Seeds also from halfbakedharvest.com
This recipe is a bit more consuming but it you’re willing to take the time, it can serve as an excellent first course to any Holiday meal! This gives you the nutrient benefits from the flesh of the pumpkin AND the seeds!Cook Time:  1 HR  Total Time : 1 HR 15 min Servings: 4

Ingredients:

    • 1 large sugar or pie pumpkin, cut in half and seeds removed and reserved (plus 4 small ones if you are making the pumpkin bowls)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • salt and pepper
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 small shallots, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup coconut milk + 1 cup water (or 2 cups water)
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more or less to your liking)
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
    • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Sage Pesto
  • 1 head garlic (or you may sub 1 clove raw garlic)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (if you do not like blue cheese sub feta or parmesan)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Fried Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • reserved pumpkin seeds from above
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • lots of salt to your tasting

Order Ingredients

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut your pumpkin in half or into fourths and reserve the pumpkin seeds for later. Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and rub the pumpkin with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chop off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal cloves. Peel any excess paper/skin off from the bulb of garlic. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil on top the garlic cloves and cover with foil. Roast both the pumpkin and garlic together on the same baking sheet for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender and the garlic golden brown and soft. Remove from the oven and allow everything to cool five minutes. Squeeze garlic out of the paper skin into a small bowl and mash well with a fork, set aside.

Grab the pumpkin and add it to a food processor (or mash extremely well) and puree with 1 cup of the chicken broth, puree until completely smooth.

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the butter and shallots. Saute the the shallots until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook another 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin puree, remaining chicken, coconut milk, water, cayenne, nutmeg, maple syrup and crushed red pepper. Bring the soup to a low simmer and simmer 15-20 minutes.

While the soup cooks make the pesto. Add the roasted garlic, parsley, sage and pistachios to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and then stream in the olive oil. Add the cheese and pulse a few more time until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

To fry the pumpkin seeds. Add the reserved pumpkin seeds to a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon coconut milk and 1 tablespoon flour. In a small bowl combine the chipotle chili powder, pepper and brown sugar. Place a skillet on the stove top and set to medium heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the pumpkin seeds into the pan, but be careful! Stir the pumpkin seeds around in the skillet with a spoon or spatula continuously until they expand and start to brown. Once the seeds are browned remove from the skillet and place on a paper towel to drain. Toss with the chili powder and a good pinch of salt. Taste and season accordingly.

To assemble the soup, ladle the soup into bowls (or your roasted pumpkins) and top each bowl with a dollop of pesto, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and if desired drizzle with coconut milk. Start slurpin!

To make the roasted pumpkin soup bowls. Remove the tops of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Rub the insides of the pumpkins with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes or just until soft to touch but not falling in.

3-Ingredient Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes with Caramel Sauce from Paleogrubs.com

Pancakes?! Yes, please!! This paleo-friendly recipe satisfied that craving for a hearty, comforting breakfast, but without the sugar/carb crash. This recipe uses fiber-filled pumpkin puree and gluten-free, protein-rich almond flour to keep you satisfied through the morning. Feel free to add some turkey sausage or a few scrambled eggs for extra protein.

Serves 1

Prep Time 5 min Cook Time 15 min Total Time 20 min

For the pancakes

  1. ½ cup well drained pumpkin puree
  2. 1 egg
  3. 2 tbsp almond flour
  4. ¼ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

For the caramel sauce

  1. 1 ½ tbsp honey
  2. 1 tsp coconut oil
  3. 1/8 cup coconut milk
  4. ½ tbsp chopped walnuts

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl beat the egg. Add in pumpkin puree and mix well. Add in the almond flour and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease the skillet with a small amount (about 1/4 tsp) of coconut oil. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the batter onto skillet fro each pancakes. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and sides of the pancake firm up, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip the pancakes with a spatula, and cook the underside, for another 45 seconds. Transfer the pancakes to a warm platter and set aside.
  3. To make the caramel, in a small cat iron or heavy bottom skillet place all the ingredients except walnuts. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and let the mixture boil slowly for the next 3-4 minutes or until caramel has reduced and thickened. Add in the walnuts and mix well.
  4. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the pancakes and serve.

Notes:

  1. If you are making a bigger batch of caramel, cooking time will be longer.

Be mindful as you navigate the grocery stores and/or local coffee shops, as pumpkin is likely to be present in a not-so-healthy manner. Instead, utilize these recipes or toss some pureed pumpkin into your oatmeal or smoothie for seasonal-flavor that will also boost your health.

Resources:

  1. http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/roasted-pumpkin-seed-hummus/#comment-27103
  2. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279610.php
  3. http://paleogrubs.com/3-ingredient-pumpkin-pancakes-recipe?awt_l=IJ9O.&awt_m=3fIqnpF1WrcmO.x
  4. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=82

 

Danielle Sikorski

About Danielle Sikorski

Danielle is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Personal Trainer residing in Anchorage, Alaska. She received her B.S. in Nutrition, Dietetics and Foods Science from California State University at Northridge. As an athlete, Danielle was initially drawn to Nutrition because she desired to learn how to best fuel her body for optimal performance. However, after becoming a Dietitian, her focus has broadened. After a Lyme and autoimmune disease diagnosis, she has learned the role that food can play in healing the body. She now works with clients with a variety of goals ranging from sports performance, Food Intolerance, Autoimmue, to Weight loss. ******In her spare time she loves running to clear her mind and also enjoys cooking with her husband. ---------------EDUCATION & CERTIFICATIONS: • B.S. in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science • Internship at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, NV specializing in Medical Nutrition Therapy in the ICU, Pediatric ICU, Cancer Center, Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Education • Internship at W.I.C. specializing in pre and post-natal Nutrition • RD, RDN by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
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