‘Tis the season, pumpkin season that is. Fall is marked by the return of pumpkin everything! You have pumpkin spice this and pumpkin spice that. That is great news because pumpkin is really good for you. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and manganese. There is only one problem; most of the stuff on the grocery store shelves doesn’t even have pumpkin in it! Well, you are in luck because I have two amazing recipes that I am going to share with you. Not only do these recipes have pumpkin in them, but they are actually very healthy for you and super tasty!
So what is all this healthy stuff found in pumpkin and what does it do for us anyway? Well, let me break it down for you. Let’s start with dietary fiber. If your diet does not have enough fiber in it, it increases your risk of having a stroke, obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure. Fiber helps promote good digestion and gastrointestinal health. A diet rich in fiber also seems to help people eat less too, which helps support weight loss! Including pumpkin in your diet (whether it is fresh or canned) can help you reach your required daily intake of fiber.
Vitamin A promotes healthy vision and a healthy immune system. Pumpkin is one of the best sources of alpha-carotene, which is a carotenoid that converts to retinol, which is a form of vitamin A. Vitamin C found in pumpkin not only strengthens the immune system, but also promotes cardiovascular health.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of Vitamin K. Vitamin K helps stimulate blood clot formation after tissues are damaged. Vitamin K also helps your skin heal after injury, and contributes to bone growth and maintenance.
Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of iron. Iron is an essential mineral used to transport oxygen to all parts of the body. A minor iron deficiency can cause fatigue and weakness (anemia), and a major deficiency can cause organ failure.
So far I have mentioned nutrients that we hear on a regular basis. The last one I am going to mention is manganese. Manganese is not a nutrient we hear about very often. Manganese is important for a multitude of reasons. Manganese supports healthy nerves, and protects cells from free radical damage. Manganese is also important in synthesizing fatty acids and cholesterol. It also helps keep bones strong and healthy. Manganese is also essential for keeping blood sugar levels and thyroid functions normal. So, even though we may not hear about manganese too often (some people may have never heard of it before), it does not mean that it is not important.
Now that you know just how good pumpkin is for you, let me share my two favorite pumpkin recipes. Nothing tastes better on a cool night than a delicious bowl of chili. This, however, is not your average chili recipe though. Not only does it taste amazing, but as I have mentioned, it is good for you too. I like to call it Pumped Turkey Chili since it has pumpkin and turkey in it. This chili is super simple and quick to prepare. This recipe is sure to be a hit with your family and friends just as it has been with mine.
Pumped Turkey Chili:
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes
- 1 small can diced green chili peppers
- 1 (15 oz can) pure pumpkin
- 1 can low sodium black beans (rinsed and drained)
- salt and pepper to taste
Nutrition Information for 1 Cup of Pumped Turkey Chili:
- 265 calories
- 4.5 grams of fat
- 30 grams of carbohydrates
- 8.5 grams of sugar
- 26 grams of protein
- 10 grams of fiber.
Directions: In a large saucepan, cook chopped onion until it gets a little soft. Add extra lean ground turkey to the onions. Cook and drain the turkey onion mixture. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes uncovered. Taste it to make sure it is seasoned to your liking. I always add a little extra chili powder to mine because I like mine to have a little kick to it. This recipe makes six 1 cup servings. Note: Make sure that you are using pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
This next recipe has become my favorite night time snack or dessert this fall. It is a delicious pumpkin spice protein shake. I can’t tell you how many times a day I pass someone sucking down a delicious looking pumpkin spice frappuccino, and find myself craving one. I simply remind myself how bad it would be for me to give in to this craving. Have you ever looked up the nutrition facts for a pumpkin spice frappuccino? In one grande (16 oz) pumpkin spice frappuccino there is a whopping 450 calories, 15 grams of fat (9 of which are saturated fat grams), 74 grams of carbohydrates, 72 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein! Not to mention there is not even actual pumpkin in this concoction. Well, be prepared to be amazed because not only is my recipe a fraction of the calories, but it is packed with protein and it has actual pumpkin in it, not pumpkin syrup!
Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake:
- 8 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon stevia to taste
- 1/2 cup pure pumpkin (make sure that it is pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 scoop vanilla graham cracker protein powder (I use Image Sports weight loss whey)
Nutrition Information for 1 Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake:
- 199 calories
- 5 grams of fat
- 14 grams of carbohydrates
- 5 grams of sugar
- 24 grams of protein
Directions: In a blender combine all ingredients. Pour, and enjoy.
I hope you enjoy these healthy pumpkin recipes as much as I do. Stay tuned for my healthy, protein packed sweet potato casserole recipe coming up soon!