5 ways to get more pumpkin in your diet

The pumpkin is such a humble vegetable, though from a botanical standpoint, it is considered a fruit because it contains the seeds of the plant. But whether you consider it fruit or vegetable, the pumpkin is a winter squash, whose seasonal name comes from its great storing properties – the pumpkin, under the right conditions, can be stored all winter.

Pumpkins taste amazing, they are loaded with vitamins A, C, and E, they have tons of iron, calcium, and B-complex vitamins, their seeds are packed with protein and magnesium, and our gardens are full of them. The season is filled with giant pumpkins, ornamental pumpkins, pumpkin pies, soups, side-dishes, seeds, muffins, and of course, pumpkin spice lattes.

You might want to limit your pumpkin latte intake, though, as each one brings with a sweet 380 calories (with a hefty 47% saturated fat) per 16 ounce serving. Pumpkin flesh on the other hand has only 26 calories per 100 grams, and no saturated fats or cholesterol!

Here are five great ways to get more of this seasonal nutritional powerhouse in your diet:

  1. Savory Pumpkin Hummus – Very simple and delicious. Use your favorite hummus recipe (tahini, garbonzo beans, lemon, olive oil, etc) add pumpkin puree (you can used canned, organic is best), and cumin, cayenne, and toasted pumpkin seeds! (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/savory-pumpkin-hummus/)
  2. Sambal Roasted Pumpkin – Take 1 sugar pie pumpkin (cleaned and sliced into wedges), brush with this combo: softened unsalted butter, sambal or other chile garlic paste, sea salt. Roast! (http://www.sfgate.com/recipes/article/From-simple-to-spicy-recipes-for-fall-s-glut-5815065.php)
  3. Garam Masala Pumpkin Butter – Combine pumpkin puree with brown sugar and garam masala to tastes. Heavenly on toast!
  4. Pasta Al Forno with Pumpkin and Pancetta – Who knew such delights dwelled in such a simple squash! Pumpkin, pancetta, pasta, gorgonzola…You might want to follow the recipe for this one: http://food52.com/recipes/7637-pasta-al-forno-with-pumpkin-and-pancetta.
  5. Pumpkin Pie Green Smoothie – Looks ugly, tastes wonderful! Combine 2 bananas, 1 handful fresh spinach, 1/2 cup milk of your choice (this one is great with almond milk), ice cubes, vanilla, 1/2 cup pumpkin purree, cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice). Blend and enjoy!

Pumpkin puree is a very versatile and super healthy substance! Add it to your favorite muffin or pancake recipes, use it to thicken soups and stews, mix it into veggie burgers or meat loaf. So go crazy with pumpkin! Tis the season!