Chances are if someone mentions pumpkins, your first thought will be pie at Thanksgiving or carving jack-o-lanterns. But pumpkins are also a wonderful, nutrient-dense ingredient that can be added to soups, salads, casseroles, breads and more — and fall is the best time of year to enjoy this seasonal treat!
Pumpkins belong to the cucumber family and are related to cantaloupes. They come in large and small varieties, as well as different colors and shapes. Pumpkins pack a significant nutritional punch by providing a healthy dose of vitamin C, potassium, copper and manganese. The bright orange color of most pumpkins is caused by high levels of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a plant carotenoid that converts to vitamin A in the body.Carotenoids act as an antioxidant in the body by tackling harmful free radicals and stimulate the immune system to work properly. Pumpkins also provide vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, B6, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. All combined, these vitamins and minerals have a dramatic effect on your health. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more potassium than a banana!
The seeds from pumpkins are also a concentrated source of minerals, vitamins, protein and fiber. Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan, which relaxes the body, calms nerves and improves sleep. Roasted pumpkin seeds are an easy, transportable snack. To roast pumpkin seeds, wash them thoroughly in cold water after extracting them from the pumpkin. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adding a sprinkle of natural salt helps bring out their nutty flavor.
When buying pumpkins to cook with, be sure to find one that is fully ripe. You can check this by tapping on the outside. Your tap should produce a dense, hollow “thump.” Pass on pumpkins that have cuts, wrinkled surface skin, or blemishes. Store your pumpkin in a cool, dry place and it should be good for several weeks.
Here are two simple recipes to help you get your pumpkin fix this fall.
Pumpkin and Cauliflower Soup with Ginger
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (10 ounce) cans vegetable or chicken broth
1 (27 ounce) can pumpkin purée
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 head cauliflower
1. Sauté onion, celery, and carrot in large pot on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the ginger and garlic to the pot and stir until fragrant. Add the vegetable broth, pumpkin purée, water, thyme, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower (can use your hands to break it down into smaller florets).
3. With a lid slightly ajar, simmer the soup on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until vegetable have softened.
4. Purée the soup using a blender.
5. The soup will be thick, you can add water to thin it out and enjoy!
Healthy Pumpkin Muffins with Crumb Topping
Recipe c/o 40aprons.com
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ tsp baking soda
3 large eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin (plain)
½ cup butter or coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp coconut oil at room temperature
4 Tbsp almond flour
4 Tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 Line a muffin tin with parchment paper liners and set aside.
2. Combine the crumb mixture ingredients in a bowl with a fork until combined (it should look like crumbs) then chill while you prepare muffin batter.
3.In a large bowl, combine flours, tapioca, salt, coconut sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda and whisk until well combined and no lumps remain. Add in remaining muffin ingredients, and mix with a spatula until well combined.
4. Spoon into prepared muffin tin until almost entirely full, rounding at the top. I use a disher for this purpose. Top each muffin with the crumb mixture, about a teaspoon over each muffin.
5. Bake at 325 F in the middle rack for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean AND the surface of the muffin springs back when touched. Remove and let cool slightly, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.