Without a doubt, pumpkin is an all time seasonal favorite. We are, of course, talking about the real deal, not the artificial pumpkin spice that’s added to so many things.
Pumpkin is a highly nutrient-dense food, rich in both minerals and vitamins, but low in calories. It offers a wide arrange of health benefits, boosting it’s popularity in the last few years. Even Starbucks embraced it with their Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
What health benefits does this orange winter squash offer? For starters, pumpkins are one of the best known sources of beta-carotene (this powerful anti-oxidant gives fruits and veggies their vibrant orange color) which the body converts into Vitamin A. Food rich in beta-carotene offer protection against heart disease and asthma as well as reducing the risk of developing certain types of cancers.
With fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, pumpkins support heart health. Potassium also offers protection against loss of muscle mass while preserving bone mineral density and is associated with a reduced risk of stroke. Pumpkins are also a fantastic source of fiber which promotes regular bowl movements and smooths digestion.
And, let’s not forget the pumpkin pulp and seeds. High in vitamin C and beta-carotene, they offer a boost to the immune system. Beta-carotene, once converted to vitamin A, triggers a boost in the creation of white blood cells – our warriors against infection.
You can even use pumpkin puree in place of oil or butter in baking recipes. How about that for versatility!
Next time you think pumpkins…replace “carve it” with “cook it and eat it.” You’re body will thank you for it!
Here’s a great healthy pumpkin recipe the whole family will love!
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- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup dates, soaked for 30 minutes then drained
- ¼ cup coconut oil, warmed untilmelted
- 1 tablespoon cocoa or cacaopowder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1½ cups cashews
- ½ cup pumpkin puree or raw pumpkin blended until smooth in a high speed blender
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- Place almonds into a food processor and process until broken down and crumbly.
- Add dates, cocoa powder, coconut oil and vanilla essence and process until well combined.
- Press this mixture evenly onto the bottom of the pan or dish.
- Place cashews into food processor and process until broken down and crumbly.
- Add pumpkin puree, honey and spices and process until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Pour over the base spreading it evenly.
- Place in freezer for a couple of hours to firm up.
- Cut into squares before serving.