Whether you’re looking for an autumn treat or a year-round meal, you can find a pumpkin-based recipe that’s both healthy and satisfying.
Pumpkin is loaded with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fiber and even protein. Here’s a look at just a few of the ways you can happily fit more pumpkin into your diet.
Pumpkin pie protein shake
For a shake, you’ll want to start with a liquid base; around one cup or eight ounces of something like skim milk, unsweetened almond milk, soy milk or some other alternative. Depending on your preferences, you can add a scoop or two of your favorite vanilla whey protein isolate powder and a tablespoon of one-hundred-percent pure pumpkin. If you have some boiled or roasted pumpkin left over from last night, you can simply scoop from your leftovers or you can always open up a can of pure pumpkin when fresh options are unavailable.
For added flavor, you can add in a teaspoon of your favorite spice like cinnamon. If you’re watching your calories but craving pumpkin pie, feel free to throw in a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into your shake. For a deliciously-icy treat, you may want to throw in anywhere between five and ten ice cubes.
In a blending machine, add your milk, protein powder, pumpkin and desired spices. Mix the concoction together and then toss in some ice cubes to reach your ideal consistency. As needed, take a large plastic spoon and scrape down the sides of the blender and reposition the ice to free a stuck blade. Pour your shake into a large glass and drink right away for best results. As the shake starts to sit, the ice chunks will begin to melt and water down your otherwise-flavorful drink.
If you want to increase the nutritional content of your healthy shake, feel free to toss in compatible veggies like carrots or spinach. When you’re not in need of a serious protein boost, you can also leave out the protein powder and consider adding something like a vanilla greek yogurt, which still provides some protein in a low-calorie way along with valuable probiotics.
Pumpkin bread mini-loaves
Use one cup of whole wheat flour, half a cup of white unbleached flour, two teaspoons of baking soda, half a teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of cinnamon and one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Concerning wet ingredients, you’ll want sixteen ounces of pure pumpkin, two eggs, one-fourth a cup of applesauce, one tablespoon of olive oil, half a cup of honey and a tablespoon of vanilla.
Mix your dry ingredients into a small bowl and set that to the side. In another bowl, mix your wet ingredients together. You can simply stir the ingredients by hand or use an electric mixer, as desired. Once your wet mixture is well combined, add in half of your dry ingredients and then stir before mixing in the second half of your flour-based powders. Continue to stir until everything is well mixed.
Preheat your oven to three-hundred-fifty degrees fahrenheit and either line your mini-loaf pans with parchment paper or grease them using a nonfat cooking spray. If you do not have enough mini loaves for the batter, you can always use a muffin pan or another baking dish you have on hand. Pour your batter into the lined or greased pans and place them in the oven once it has been heated. Depending on the size of the pans you actually use, the mini-loaves or muffins may take anywhere from twenty-five to thirty-five minutes to bake.
To test when your baked goods are done, insert a toothpick into the center of one of the loaves. If the toothpick comes out clean, the bread is done. If dough clings to the toothpick, on the other hand, go ahead and leave your pans in the oven for a few more minutes before testing again with a new toothpick.
For a nice protein crunch, you can add in half a cup of walnuts or pecans. You can also throw in some raisins, chia seeds or another mix-in that you love. If you like your bread sweet and can afford the extra calories, you can increase the honey portion to a full cup. If you need a gluten-free option, you can omit the wheat and white flour and use a cup and a half of your favorite flour blend.
Personally, I love the combination of white rice flour and tapioca flour so I’d put in one and a sixth of a cup of white rice flour as well as one third a cup of tapioca flour. If you don’t have any applesauce on hand, you can alternatively increase the olive oil portion to a fourth of a cup. As desired, you can also adjust the spices according to your tastes, leaving out the pumpkin pie spice if that flavor isn’t your favorite and tossing in whatever does suit your personal palette.
Roasted pumpkin and spinach salad
When you have a fresh pumpkin on hand, take advantage of the opportunity by fixing a dish that highlights how great the orange squash tastes even without mixing it into a batter. Gather your salad favorites including spinach, kale or mixed salad greens to go along with bell peppers, mushrooms and peas. Even healthy salads can still feature a good fat so don’t forget a relevant addition of some avocado, feta cheese or sliced almonds.
Cut a pumpkin in half and take out the seeds and stringy innards. Cut the pumpkin into wedges and lay them on a parchment-lined baking pan. As desired, you can drizzle your wedges with a little bit of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper before you place them in the oven. Bake the pumpkin in the oven on four-hundred degrees fahrenheit for around twenty-five minutes or until the wedges have the texture of your choice as evidenced by piercing the pumpkin flesh with a fork.
Let the pumpkin cool before putting together all of your salad ingredients so that your green base isn’t heated from the combination. When you’re ready to pile up all your fixings, you can consider adding a little bit of lemon juice or vinegar as a healthy dressing.
If you have more calories to spare, you can obviously add in some grilled chicken or a few slices of turkey to your salad dish. Another lean protein that would suit the pumpkin-spinach combo is salmon. Additionally, if you want a tastier dressing, you can consider making your own vinaigrette using honey, mustard and olive oil. With your personal preferences in mind, customize your salad to satisfy your own tastebuds.