Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin: Why And How To Incorporate It Into Your Diet

Fall is probably my favorite time of the year.  It is football season, the weather is usually awesome, and I know Thanksgiving will be coming up soon, which means a lot of turkey, and I am a huge turkey fan!!

Another thing I really like about Fall is pumpkin.  Pumpkin is usually a staple in my diet because it not only tastes great, but it is also a nutritional powerhouse.  You can usually buy canned pumpkin year round, but Fall and early Winter is when it is in season.

Pumpkin is very low in calories and provides a hefty dose of vitamin A and potassium.  In fact, just one cup of mashed pumpkin contains 2.5 grams of fiber and 33% more potassium than a medium banana for only 49 calories (Bowden 57)!  In addition to vitamin A and potassium, pumpkin is also a good source of:

-Beta carotene - helps support your eyesight

-Beta cryptoxanthin - shown to reduce the risk of lung and colon cancer

-Alpha carotene - may protect against prostate cancer

-Vitamin K - improves bone health

-Moderate amount of calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorous

So whether you are looking to lose some body fat, gain some lean mass, or just eat for performance and/or health, pumpkin is a great food to have in your diet.   

I am not very creative when it comes to recipes and food prep.  I often just throw a bunch of quality ingredients together.  It is not always sexy, but I usually think it tastes good.  My girlfriend does not always agree though. :)  Therefore, I want to share some recipes I have found from different sources that I have tried.  All of these are delicious and will allow you to enjoy the health benefits of pumpkin.

Jen Comas's Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Mike Roussell's Protein Pumpkin Pudding 

Jonny Bowden's super simple pumpkin snack recipe
Bowden writes, "’s the easiest food in the world to prepare. You can sweeten it with some xylitol (or erythritol), sprinkle it with blood-sugar lowering cinnamon, throw in some nutmeg and some nice healthy almonds, and make it into one of the best-tasting weight loss treats around. It’s filling and delicious."

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal from Gourmet Nutrition
   1/2c milk
   3/4c water
   1/2c oats
   1 pinch cinnamon
   1 pinch nutmeg
   1/4c canned pumpkin
   1/4c sliced almonds
   1/4c water
   splenda (or stevia) to taste
   1 scoop Vanilla protein powder (~25g protein worth)

Prepare the oats with the milk and water.  Once oats are done, add the rest of the ingredients, exluding the protein powder.  In a separate bowl, combine 1/4c of water with the protein powder and mix together thoroughly.  Add this mixture in with the oats.

Makes 1 large or 2 small servings.  A small serving contains 287.5 calories, 11.4g fat, 25.3g carbs, and 21g protein.

Zach Moore's Awesome Pumpkin Shake (super creative name right?) :)
1/2c canned pumpkin
3/4 frozen banana
2tbs nut butter (almond butter and peanut butter work well)
small handful of pecans (adds some crunch)
little bit of cinnamon
3/4c milk (preferably from grass-fed source and/or raw) - can be excluded
2 scoops Vanilla Protein Powder

~700 calories, 35g fat, 50g protein, 45g carbs 

You can cut the ingredients in half if the calorie amount is too large.

So go ahead and try these recipes out and let me know what you think.  If you have any good pumpkin recipes please share them in the comments.

Have a great week everyone!!

The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.  Dr. Jonny Bowden. 2007; 10 Superfoods for Weight Loss (Part One)

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