THE BENEFITS OF EATING PUMPKINS THIS FALL B Y B R I T T I N I E W I C K
Fall fruits and vegetables offer a range of intense flavors and substantial textures. A trip to the grocery store or farmers' market will have you relishing the many deli- cious and colorful produce options. Specific crops and harvest dates of fall produce will depend, of course, on your region's climate. One food that is usually in season during autumn is pumpkins. We don’t necessarily think of pumpkins as “health food” because most pumpkin treats have a lot of sugar added to them. We typically think of sugary treats, like pumpkin pie and sweet, pumpkin lattes (which I’ll provide a solu- tion at the end!). Pumpkin itself is actually a superfood!! Pumpkins are high in nutrients. In fact, one cup of canned pumpkin provides 20% of the daily recommended amount of fiber! Pumpkins are low in calories. One cup of mashed, cooked pumpkin is approximately 49 calories. They are also low in fat while being packed with vitamins and minerals. This means that it is a great food choice when striving towards weight loss goals with a healthy diet! Pumpkins are high in vitamin A, C, K, and E, beta-caro- tene, and antioxidants - all of which boost your immune system. They also provide potassium and magnesium, and a healthy intake of potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber can increase your heart health. As a bonus, the nutrients found in pumpkins are great for your skin and your eyesight! If you choose to cook an actual pumpkin, look for smaller pumpkins as they tend to have tastier flesh. Pumpkins have tough skin, so it requires some effort to
slice. Once it’s cut, scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts, then slice the pumpkin into wedges. You can grill or saute a few slices in olive oil to create a delicious side dish. You can also add fresh pumpkin puree to hummus for a healthy treat. If you go with canned pumpkin, look for 100% pure pumpkin with no added ingredients. The seeds are also edible, packed with nutrients, and offer many other benefits. For instance, pumpkin seeds may improve bladder and heart health. Now, if you’re like me, I wait all year for the opportu- nity to throw on my favorite sweatshirt, black leggings, a cute pair of boots, and grab a pumpkin spice latte. Guess you can say that I’d be considered “basic,” but I love it!! Like so many things, all of the cream and sugar in those delicious lattes add up. So, what is the solution? A healthier, homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte!!! Here is an easy and delicious recipe (that can save you a few dollars and calories.) 1. Brew coffee or espresso. 2. Mix½ cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and 3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 30-45 seconds. 3. Remove from heat and add ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, and a teaspoon of vanilla. 4. Blend for 30 seconds in a blender to froth the milk. 5. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, add the frothed mixture, sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top, and ENJOY!!!
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