By Janet Lee, Guest Blogger
It’s not Fall, Thanksgiving, or the holiday season without pumpkins! Pumpkins are healthy, tasty, and not to mention incredibly rich in vital antioxidants and vitamins!
The pumpkin, a plant that is actually a fast-growing vine, grows by creeping along the ground, similar to other vegetables and fruits such as cucumber, squash or cantaloupes. It is one of the most popular field crops cultivated around the world, including the USA at the commercial scale for its fruit and seeds.
Pumpkins, in general, are orange or yellow color. However, some varieties can be dark to pale green, brown, white, red and gray. Their color is largely influenced by yellow-orange pigments in their skin and pulp. Its thick rind is smooth with light, vertical ribs.
In structure, pumpkins are usually golden-yellow to orange in color, depending upon the poly-phenolic pigments in it. They have a hollow center, with numerous small, off-white colored seeds interspersed in a net like structure. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein, minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Benefits of Pumpkin
There are many benefits to this superfood. Pumpkins are a fruit that’s low in calories and rich in dietary fibers, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. With 7,384 milligrams per 100 grams, it is one of the fruits in the Cucurbitaceae family featuring the highest levels of vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. Vitamin A is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protect against lung and oral cavity cancers. The pumpkin is also a good source of B-complex vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin and pantothenic acid, and it is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. For instance, 100 grams of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 grams of protein, 110% RDA of iron, 4987 milligrams of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), and zinc (71%) but pumpkin seeds do not contain cholesterol. Further, the seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to GABA in the brain.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Yield: 1 serving
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ½ frozen banana
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (adjust according to your tastes)
- 1 cup non-dairy milk alternative (almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Add all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
- Coconut Sweet Potato Soup Yields: 2-3 servings
- 3 cups Coconut milk (meat + water of a Young Thai coconut)
- 1 ½ Sweet potatoes, small – medium
- 1 Tablespoon Coconut oil
- Pinch Cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin
- 1 slice Onion
- 6-8 each Sun-dried tomatoes, soaked
- 1 teaspoon Sea salt
- 1 each Garlic clove
Blend all ingredients in a blender until creamy. Spicy option: add in 2-3 shakes of curry powder.
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About the Author, Janet Lee
Janet Lee is a Raw Food Chef, Holistic Nutritionist, Life Coach and Health Educator. She is the owner of “A Healthy Journey: Where Small Steps Create Lasting Rewards.”
Janet is SWIHA nutrition instructor and enjoys sharing her passion for food with the Raw Food Cuisine class. She is also the instructor for Nutritional Assessment and Coaching. She is also an avid cyclist and hiker and enjoys the outdoors year round.
Visit her website: Livahealthyjourney