5 Great Ways to Enjoy Pumpkin this Season
October is all about pumpkin and nothing is better than that. First of all, have you ever noticed that every pumpkin you see has a personality? A lover of giving veggies center stage, I sprinkle the tiny pumpkins on my table as centerpieces with gourds. When we hack up the medium sized ones to make jack-o-lanterns and toast the seeds, we actually name them (last year was Ricardo!). Of course, the giant pumpkins in the stores and lobbies are mind-blowingly amazing. I can’t decide if I want to climb them or pet them.
Special as they are, just like you and me, it isn’t what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what the inside has to offer that counts.
Pumpkin is bursting with fiber, vitamins A and C, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Sweet and delicious do not describe the flavor as well as the word ‘comfort.’ Here are 5 fabulous ways to enjoy pumpkin this season – why not? — year round.
- Pumpkin in the morning. What’s your go-to? Yogurt? Make a pumpkin yogurt parfait by mixing a tablespoon of canned pumpkin into your yogurt with a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and layer a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Is toast your thing? Spread a teaspoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of pumpkin on a slice of Ezekiel toast and grind a little cinnamon on top with a tablespoon of chopped pecans. If oatmeal gets you going in the morning, add a tablespoon of canned pumpkin, a tablespoon of walnuts and a drizzle of honey to get your day off to a healthy start. You can also add a spoonful or two to your favorite pancake recipe. Don’t forget to make a double batch. They’ll go like hotcakes!
Note: canned pumpkin is a super nutritious, hassle free way to enjoy the best that pumpkin has to offer. Don’t mix up straight up pumpkin with canned pumpkin pie, which has added sugar and spices. Remember to transfer unused contents into an airtight glass, silicone or plastic container and store it in your refrigerator.
- What are you snackin’ on, pumpkin? In the office, we’re always looking for nut free alternatives for our clients, and individually portioned, seasoned pumpkin seeds fit the bill beautifully. They’re full of fiber, zinc and vitamin E and fabulously satisfying as a snack that everyone can enjoy. By the way, don’t just limit yourself to salt on your homemade toasted pumpkin seeds, try cinnamon, pumpkin pie seasoning, cocoa powder or even cayenne!
- Fantastic fall on your lunch plate. You may already love pumpkin soup, but have you tried roasted pumpkin on your salad? You should already have a salad road map: a large bed of greens (go for 2 cups) all the veggies you can pile on, a serving of lean protein and a serving of fat. You can take this roadmap and steer it towards fall with a bed of arugula, roasted pumpkin, and those toasty pumpkin seeds. Add some turkey breast or grilled chicken from last night’s dinner for a lunch you can’t wait to enjoy.
Note: If carving up a pumpkin is more of a workout than you have time for, go ahead and buy it pre-cut. It’s a good idea to roast a big portion. You’ll be able to enjoy it on your salad or in your side dishes all week. It has unlimited potential!
- Healthy sweet indulgence. Technically my amazing pumpkin muffin recipe can fall into the breakfast category, but they’re so healthy, decadent and satisfying that I recommend them when the 3PM itch for something sweet starts nagging you. These will go so quickly, and freeze so beautifully that you may as well make a double batch. Let everyone else have the pumpkin cheesecake and 500 calorie pumpkin barista sensation. You’re satisfied and energized with this sweet treat.
- Move over French Fries, pumpkin fries rule dinner. Swapping your usual root veggie option for pumpkin works almost every time (think roasted, baked and boiled) but nothing is more genius than swapping the spuds for the classic fry. Baked and seasoned pumpkin fries are similar to sweet potato fries and you can sweeten or savory them with a shake of seasoning. I recommend using coconut oil on the bottom of the pan and a silpat to make for easy cleaning. Keep your portion in check because it’s easy to overdo it, but even if you happen to overindulge, ditch the guilt. These frites are nothing but healthful!