National Pumpkin Day Recipes
Hooray for National Pumpkin Day! As a staple of the fall season, it’s absolutely imperative that we highlight this delicious and healthy autumnal food. Oh yes, we plan on sharing a host of recipes in this post from our network of registered dietitians, but first, let’s take a look at the health benefits of one of fall’s favorite decorative items.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
You may like to carve them, you may like to pick them, you may like to decorate them; but the real fun with pumpkins comes with all that our bodies can gain from this cultivar of winter squash. Most of a pumpkin’s health benefits come from its vitamins and minerals, as well as its low sugar and high fiber content. Here’s a look at the health benefits of pumpkins:
Pumpkin contains beta carotene, which is partially converted into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps our bodies to fight infections. There is research to support that vitamin A is important for strengthening the intestinal lining, which can make it more resistant to infections.
Remember the term beta carotene? In addition to assisting in our immune systems, beta carotene found in pumpkins also functions to keep our vision sharp by helping the retina absorb light. Another point for pumpkin when it comes to eye health? The combination of other vitamins and minerals in pumpkin can help to protect against age-related macular degeneration.
Pumpkins contain antioxidants! Vitamins C & E, as well as beta carotene, are important when it comes to skin health. More specifically, beta carotene may protect the skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. When you consume foods that are rich in beta carotene, you may also notice an improvement in the appearance and texture of your skin. Vitamins C and E are often used as an ingredient in skin care products, but may even help boost skin health when eaten.
Pumpkin is good for the heart! Eating fruits and vegetables supports heart health, and pumpkin fits right into this category. The potassium in pumpkin can help to reduce high blood pressure while the fiber found in pumpkin may help to lower cholesterol levels.
Due to its beta carotene content, pumpkin may help improve metabolic health. What does this mean? We’re referring to how well your blood sugar is managed as well as the distribution of fat on your body. In addition to beta carotene, pumpkin is also rich in fiber. When it comes to metabolic health, fiber can help to dull blood sugar spikes after the consumption of certain foods, like those that contain carbs.
Despite all of the health benefits that pumpkin can offer, it’s important to remember that your overall dietary pattern is what drives the direction of your health.
Now for the Good Stuff: Pumpkin Recipes
We have some delicious pumpkin recipes to share, courtesy of our amazing community of registered dietitians… head’s up – it’s okay to drool…
Recipe #1: Vegan Pumpkin Perfect Bars from Laura Ascenzi, RDN, LDN, CSSD
Quote from Laura: “So quick and easy to make, as well as delicious and filling!”
Follow Laura on Instagram at: @laurascenzi_rdn
- 3 cups oat flour
- 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup pumpkin
- 2/3 cup peanut butter or cashew butter
- 2/3 cup local honey
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
- Mix wet with dry ingredients.
- Press into the pan and top with chocolate chips!
- Freeze or refrigerate for an hour and serve.
Recipe #2: Pumpkin & Cashew Energy Bites from Rachel Artus, Boston Dietitian & Nutrition Coach
Quote from Rachel: “These are packed with healthy plant-based protein, carbs and fats. If you roll these pumpkin bites in cinnamon & sugar, they make for the perfect seasonal snack!”
Follow Rachel on Instagram at: @eats_by_rach
- 1 1/2 cup oats, blended
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, blended (plus extra whole cashews)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds/flax meal
- 2 tablespoon of hemp hearts
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp
- Dash vanilla, hearty pinch Kosher salt
- Grind oats and cashews in a food processor to fine consistency
- Combine oat & cashew blend with all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix with hands or spatula to completion
- Roll out ping pong-sized balls by hand, option to place a whole cashew in the center
- Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, enjoy!
*This is a vegetarian & gluten-free recipe that DOES contain nuts.*
Recipe #3: Thanksgiving Turkey Meatballs from Nutrition in Motion
Quote from NIM: “Helping you to survive the holidays!”
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon of sage
- 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1-2 T of coconut flour, sifted*
- Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, mashed pumpkin and egg. Add the spices and mix until fully incorporated. Slowly add the sifted coconut flour until the mixture is firm yet still moist. Form into golf ball sized balls and set aside.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Place meatballs on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip and bake for 10 more minutes or until cooked through (cook time will depend on the size of your meatballs).
- Serve immediately or allow to cool completely before freezing or refrigerating.
Have a pumpkin recipe you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it! Post it to our social media pages, leave a comment below, or email it to: [email protected] – Happy Pumpkin’ing!