While pumpkin is a quintessential representation of fall, this orange gourd has many more uses (and benefits!) beyond the notorious jack-o’-lantern.
Health Perks of Pumpkin
Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that protects against oxidative stress and has strong anti-aging benefits. Beta carotene, along with the high vitamin A, C and K content, also enhances immune function.
Beyond its micronutrients, pumpkin can support healthy weight management. It’s high in fiber and low in fat — helping ward off winter weight gain. One cup of pumpkin contains only 80 calories.
Here are five new ways to use the surprisingly versatile pumpkin this fall season:
1) As a smoothie boost.
Add pumpkin as a boost to your favorite breakfast smoothie.
Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie
— 2 cups unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
— 3/4 cup pumpkin purée
— 1 scoop of Vega One Vanilla Chai
— 1/2 cup ice
— 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1. Add all ingredients into a blender, and blend well.
2) In a sweet treat.
Because pumpkin is high in fiber and low in fat, it adds a healthy twist to decadent desserts.
Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse
— 2 cups pumpkin purée
— 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
— 1/3 cup maple syrup
— 1/2 cup coconut butter (make sure it’s heated to point of being liquid)
— 1/2 tsp cinnamon
— 1/2 tsp vanilla
Add all ingredients to a bowl, and mix well with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
3) In your lunch box.
I love this salad because it contains cranberries, pumpkin and pecans — my favorite fall foods.
Roasted Pumpkin Quinoa Salad
— 2 small pumpkins
— 2 tbsp coconut oil
— 1/4 cup onion, diced
— Sea salt and pepper to taste
— 2 cups cooked quinoa
— 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
— 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
— 1/4 cup dried cranberries
— 1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
— 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
— 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
— 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
— 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
— 1 tbsp lemon juice
— 2 tsp maple syrup
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, then place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet greased with 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Roast until soft (about 30 minutes).
2. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until golden, about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in cooked quinoa, and add spinach. Remove from heat and cover, just until the spinach wilts, a minute or two.
4. Add remaining ingredients to the skillet, and stir to blend.
5. Remove pumpkin from the oven. Scoop out part of the flesh from two of the halves. Chop, then stir into the quinoa blend. Enjoy!
4) In your morning oats.
There’s nothing like the combination of oatmeal and pumpkin to make me feel cozy. Forget your pumpkin flavored latte, and use this breakfast to wake you up in the morning.
Pumpkin Pie Vegan Oatmeal
— 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
— 2 tbsp pumpkin purée
— 1 tbsp brown sugar
— 1/4 cup water
— 2 tbsp almond milk
— 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
— Pinch of salt
— Dash of cinnamon, cloves and allspice
— Dried cranberries (optional)
— Chopped pecans (optional)
1. Cook oatmeal your favorite way — on the stove top or in the microwave.
2. Instead of water, add almond milk.
3. Cook until consistency is right, then add in spices and pumpkin.
4. Top with pecans and dried cranberries, if desired.
5) As your beauty routine.
Revitalize your skin with this face mask. Both pumpkin and raw cane sugar contain alpha hydroxyl acids — you’ll slough off dead skin cells and encourage the growth of new healthy cells for a fall glow. I also add pumpkin seed butter because it’s high in fats for moisture and in zinc to combat acne.
Anti-Aging Pumpkin Face Mask
— 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
— 1 banana
— 1/4 cup raw cane sugar
— 2 tbsp pumpkin seed butter
Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend. Massage onto face. Let sit for 10 minutes and wash off.
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