by Michele Ciancimino
Well, it’s October and that can only mean one thing – it’s time to consume all things pumpkin! I love this time of year and, even though we live in the desert, we can still get into the pumpkin frame-of-mind.
But, here is a caveat: I’m not talking about the pumpkin and whipped cream concoction you get at the fancy local coffee house (aka PSL) or the pumpkin cookies, bars, and pop tarts you see in the stores now. While those may contain a little bit of pumpkin, they typically have so much added sugar, that it negates the health benefits of our beloved pumpkin.
Here are a few benefits of pumpkin:
- Vitamin A- the bright orange color of pumpkin comes from the high beta-carotene content. The body converts this nutrient to Vitamin A which helps protect the skin from UV rays, keeps the skin looking healthy, supports our immune and our eye health. One cup has twice the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin A.
- Vitamin C- Pumpkin is a good source of this antioxidant that supports a healthy immune system, boosts collagen production, and prevents premature aging. One cup contains almost 20% of our daily needs.
- Magnesium and Potassium-The majority of people are deficient in magnesium and it is a mineral needed to turn on the body’s relaxation response (something we all need!) Potassium is needed for muscle contraction, healthy blood pressure, and digestion as well.
The easiest and best way to get your pumpkin is the canned version. Be sure to choose plain pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling as that has lots of added sugar. Use pumpkin in smoothies, add to soups, hummus, or even bake your own bread or muffins.
Here is one way I love to use my canned pumpkin. I use an essential oil blend called On Guard in place of some of the spices to support healthy immunity, but you can leave this out.
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup organic vanilla yogurt
1 frozen banana
1 Tablespoon almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
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