Megan Callahan, MS, RD, LD
Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian

October 24, 2020

Happy fall, y’all! October is often associated with pumpkin, and rightfully so as Halloween is the first holiday celebrated this season. From carving pumpkins to ordering this flavor at our favorite coffee shops, we notice the many fall facelifts companies do to their products to welcome this time of the year.

Yet, instead of purchasing the pumpkin-flavored boxes of popular snack foods, why not pick up pumpkin in canned form and whip up something in the kitchen yourself? This orange gourd steps into the spotlight now through Thanksgiving – give your family members a recipe to talk about, and enjoy the benefits that come from this fall favorite, too. Are you getting pump’d?

  1. Protect Your Sight with a Smoothie: Wake those tired eyes with a smoothie that promotes eye health. Simply blend a quarter of a cup of 100% pure pumpkin with fruit such as bananas or pineapple, milk, and a dash of cinnamon for a frozen fall drink you’ll rush out of bed for. The vibrant orange color of pumpkin comes from the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body – which just so happens to be the A+ vitamin for eye health.
  2. A Bowl of Chili to Boost Immunity: There’s nothing better than warming up with a bowl of chili on a crisp, fall day – well, besides adding a can of pumpkin to that very steamy soup. Not only are you adding more fiber to the pot, your family won’t even notice. (Take that, picky kids.) In addition, fall welcomes the start of cold and flu season, so why not protect yourself with the plethora of nutrients that defend us against sick days? You can thank the vitamins C and A found within this great gourd for that.
  3. Eat Mac-n-Cheese and Look Young While You Do It: What’s better than vegetables? Invisible ones that your kids (or spouse) try to avoid. Serve up a dish that’s devoured by all, yet jazz it up with a can of pumpkin. Not only will the orange puree mix in well with the cheese, the beta-carotene found within this canned pick acts as a natural sunblock. Hey there, gourd-geous!
  4. Snack Right and Weigh Less: It’s not about eating less, it’s about eating right when it comes to weight loss strategies. Put energy bites with pumpkin on your snack list this week to keep hunger at bay the fall, flavorful way. Simply add a quarter of a cup of pumpkin puree to your favorite energy bite recipe and enjoy the flavor of the season in a no-bake bite. With an ample amount of fiber found in this canned option, you’ll notice snack attacks are few and far between.
  5. Good to the Last Seed to Protect Against Deficiencies: Sure, you can roast the seeds found in the jack-o’-lantern you carve, or you can reap the nutritional powerhouses of the pumpkin seeds found within the grocery store. A majority of adults are deficient in the nutrient magnesium, yet – lucky for us – pumpkin (seeds) save the day again. Fatigue, muscle spasms and migraines are all common symptoms associated with a magnesium deficiency. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on salads, toss in your energy bites, or enjoy in a trail mix to ensure you are living the fall season to the fullest.

There you have it – five perks of pumpkin and possible ways to include this popular flavor of fall in your dishes. Enjoy it in foods that you create, alongside some of the dishes and drinks you’ve waited all year for. It’s pumpkin-licious season – a good reason to party like it’s fall every day until the real cold comes.

Pumpkin Smoothie
Serves 3

All You Need:
1 (15 oz.) can 100% pumpkin puree
2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
2 tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Fresh blueberries and pumpkin seeds for garnish

All you do:

  1. Add pumpkin, milk, yogurt, agave nectar, pumpkin pie spice, and ice to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Top with pumpkin seeds and fresh blueberries, if desired.

Recipe source: The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.