Linus from Charlie Brown was on to something when he sat around for hours on Halloween waiting for the Great Pumpkin. In fact, his obsession with the pumpkin has made me think that he was quite the trendsetter. Seeing that we are well into my favorite season of Fall, I’ve noticed that everyone has officially gone off their rocker, and pumpkin is cropping up in everything. EVERYTHING. So far I’ve seen the likes of pumpkin spiced lattes (of course), lip gloss, yogurt, Pringles, even hummus.
But, I deplore you to stay away from these pumpkin-themed foods (yes, even the latte). For the most part, the flavor in these products comes from chemicals and artificial flavoring, and are not the real deal.
Enter one of my favorite supermarket buys in the fall and winter months: a can of pumpkin puree. A brand that I trust is Libby’s and the ingredients list reads: PUMPKIN. And that’s it. To compare, the ingredients in Pumpkin Spice flavoring syrup used in Starbucks reads as: “SUGAR, CONDENSED NONFAT MILK, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, ANNATO (FOR COLOR), NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVE),” and can be found here.
Real pumpkin offers so many health benefits, and all of these pumpkin-flavored imitators offer none of them. That’s why I choose to skip the imposters and buy the pumpkin puree, which is versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes. Like applesauce and other fruit purees, pumpkin can substitute butter and oil in baking recipes to provide that wonderful fall flavor while upping the nutrient value. Click here to learn how to substitute butter and oil with pumpkin in your favorite baking recipes.
More importantly, the bright orange color, as seen in the sweet potato, is enough to tell you that the pumpkin is bursting with nutrients. Pumpkins are a great source of potassium and magnesium, which help to lower blood pressure; vitamin C, to boost immunity and to fight those winter colds; and fiber, which not only keeps you super full but also improves GI health, lowers blood cholesterol, and prevents blood sugar spikes. Not to mention there is only 1g of sugar and 0g of fat in a 1/2 cup serving of pumpkin puree, so it’s truly good for your waistline (unlike the Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup mentioned above, which is seriously just pure sugar and empty calories).
My favorite, and probably also the easiest, way to eat pumpkin is in a smoothie. This recipe is great for breakfast, after a workout, or even dessert, and, it’s made even better when topped with this yogurt dip that I’m now obsessed with made by Something Swanky (find her original recipe and post here).
Pumpkin Spiced Cinnamon Shake
Servings: 1, Prep time: 5 minutes, Cook time: 0 minutes.
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 banana, frozen
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 scoop vanilla whey protein
1 T honey
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and mix until silky smooth. Best when eaten with a spoon and/or slurped with a straw (depending on the thickness and your mood on that given day).
Nutrition Information (for shake only, excluding the yogurt dip): Calories: 309, Total Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 45g, Total Carb: 55g, Dietary Fiber: 8g, Protein: 22g. *
*This recipe meets 158% of your Daily Value (DV) of Vitamin A, 19% DV of potassium, 20% DV of Vitamin C, 38% DV of Calcium, and 14% of Iron, woo!
How do you like to cook with pumpkin? Have you seen any other bizarre foods that have been pumpkin spice-ified? Sound off in the comments!