As the weather cools and dried leaves scatter the ground, the crisp fall air brings with it the soaring popularity of pumpkins. Coffee shops advertise pumpkin spice lattes, and grocery stores stock up on pumpkin pie supplies, but while these artificial pumpkin tasting goodies may sound great, they aren’t exactly advertised as healthy treats. Many people don’t even consider pumpkin healthy at all, due to these sugar-laden fall desserts. However, not only is this orange winter squash delicious, it possesses some serious health benefits that you have probably never even heard of.
Contrary to popular belief, pumpkin is a fruit, not a vegetable, due to the presence of seeds. However, it does possess many of the same qualities of vegetables and is often referred to as such.
Instead of only buying a pumpkin to carve this Halloween, try whipping up some new and delicious pumpkin dishes to incorporate this nutrient power-house into your diet.
Pumpkins are high in antioxidants
Pumpkins can help neutralize dangerous free radicals because of their high antioxidant content. Free radicals have been linked to an increase in chronic disease and permanent cell damage. The antioxidants present in pumpkin have been shown to reduce the risk of developing certain skin and eye conditions and protect from the dangers of the sun.
Pumpkins are loaded with vitamins
Vitamins A, C, and E are just a few of the beneficial vitamins in pumpkin. These vitamins have been proven to increase white blood cell production, encouraging faster cell growth, boost the immune system, help fight infection, and keep your whole body healthy. These vitamins are especially crucial as cold and flu season rolls around, and you’re not spending as much time breathing in the fresh outdoor air.
Pumpkins may help with weight loss
Due to their high nutrient content and low-calorie qualities, pumpkins are an excellent choice for those wishing to shed a few pounds before the holidays. It fills you up without encouraging weight gain and is a popular substitution for foods like rice and potatoes because you can eat more of it without ramifications. Pumpkin may also help keep you full for longer because it is an excellent source of fiber, leading to less unhealthy snacking and overeating.
Pumpkins encourage healthy skin
Vitamin C is a major component in assisting the body’s production of collagen, which is an incredibly important protein for skin health and elasticity. Pumpkin is high in vitamin C and can help restore and maintain your skin’s youthful glow.
Sweet and savory pumpkin soup
There is nothing like a warm bowl of soup to take away the chill of a brisk fall day. Try whipping up a batch of this soup using either canned or fresh pumpkin. If you do plant to use canned pumpkin, be sure to purchase cans labeled 100% pumpkin with no added ingredients.
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 4lb pumpkin
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Pinch of cayenne pepper for added spice, optional
- Pinch of black pepper
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp honey
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Half pumpkin and scoop out seeds.
- Cut the halves again to make quarters.
- Rub one tbsp olive oil into the pumpkin flesh and place, cut side down onto the baking sheet.
- Place in oven for 35 minutes or until pumpkin is soft. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Heat remaining olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add in salt, onion, and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. About 10 minutes.
- While cooking, carefully peel the skin off cooked pumpkin and discard.
- Add in pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in honey and coconut milk.
- Blend with an immersion or stand blender. You may have to work in batches if using a stand blender.
- Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 days.