Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that has a host of health benefits. It’s high in vitamin A which helps protect eyesight and bolsters the immune system and it’s high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. If you think of pumpkin solely as a pie ingredient, read on for three versatile and healthy ways to use pumpkin from local foodie, Kayla Hanson.
It’s happening…pumpkin spice time!
Labor Day has come and gone, and we’ve experienced a day or two with – dare I say – a hint of chill in the air. Whether or not you partake, it’s tough to avoid the inevitable pumpkin spice overload that dominates this season. Consuming pumpkin spice may lead to an obsession with oversized scarves, scented candles, and cozy breakfast recipes. You’ve been warned. So before you spiral, let’s spend a minute with the O.G. of fall: pumpkin. As a food, it may not be as “basic” as you think!
Pumpkin is a type of winter squash
While commonly thought of as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. And beyond it’s delicious taste and smell, pumpkin can provide us with some good health benefits. Noted.
Favorite pumpkin facts:
- They are high in a number of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A. There is quite a bit of beta-carotene in pumpkin, which converts to vitamin A in our bodies. Beta-carotene helps protect our eyesight and immune system. Sound familiar? Carrots have a high beta-carotene profile, too.
- Pumpkins contain heart healthy fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Having all three of these in our diet can help to manage blood pressure and keep our heart valves pumping smoothly.
- They are incredibly versatile. 100% pumpkin puree or sliced and cut pumpkin can be used in all sorts of recipes. Just make sure to check the ingredients for pure pumpkin. The seeds are edible (and delicious), too!
Like any hype or seasonal craze, it’s important to be mindful of both the quantity and quality of what we’re consuming. It’s tempting to order a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks every morning, but I’ve found that I feel better saving that sugary drink for a “treat” and getting creative with other sweet and savory pumpkin recipes this time of year.
Kayla Hansmann of @cincyfitfoodie (a Quidwell favorite!) is one creative cat when it comes to healthy seasonal recipes. She’s been a go-to for me when I get bored with my standard meal prep and want to mix things up without breaking the bank!
Read on for some exclusive @cincyfitfoodie pumpkin-related recipes that will have you feeling good AND festive:
PUMPKIN PEANUT BUTTER EGG TOAST
This can be done sweet or savory and I think a few eyes may raise with the thought of this combo, but trust me! Take 1-2 eggs (scrambled or hard boiled), 1 tbsp peanut butter or peanut butter powder, 1 tbsp pumpkin puree, pinch of pumpkin pie spice <– mash together. Top over slice of bread (I love @daveskillerbread seeds and grains) + sprinkle with @traderjoes pumpkin spice pumpkin seeds. You can also totally omit the eggs and go all “sweet” with yogurt + pumpkin + peanut butter but I swear the eggs taste creamier and have a nice hint of fall!
PUMPKIN CHILI (MADE EASY)!
Take any of your favorite chicken or bean chili recipes and throw in a little pumpkin and cloves/nutmeg to add a creamy consistency and fall aroma.
CHICKEN CHICKPEA PUMPKIN SALAD
Maybe another slightly “weird” combo, but I’ve used the bottom of the pumpkin puree jar (avoiding waste!) to mix into a chicken chickpea salad. Take 1 tbsp pumpkin puree, 2 tbsp greek yogurt or mayo, 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice, with your 3-4 oz serving of roasted chopped chicken breast & a few mashed chickpeas. You have a perfect wrap center, salad, bowl or toast topper!
And finally – the easiest of all – throw a little pumpkin puree or cinnamon/spice blend into your pancake batter, waffle mix, or overnight oat morning breakfast routine.
Thanks to Kayla and these pumpkin nutrition tidbits, I’m feeling good heading into sweater weather. Cheers to fall, y’all!
To read more from Maggie you can check out her Instagram here.
With a background in education and event planning, Maggie Hauser obtained her health coaching certification in 2018 while living abroad in Germany. She has worked one-on-one with (virtual) clients as well as piloted a meal preparation service for families. In addition to nutrition and hormone health, Maggie is passionate about reading, fitness and travel. Her greatest adventure yet is that of becoming a first-time mom!