Fall is For Pumpkin and Spice

by karen on September 20, 2019

I love living here in Northern Nevada, where the full range of seasons means weather changes that ease the transition from summer to winter. Fall signals the coming of wonderful holidays and the seasonal foods that go with them. Hooray for fall and all things pumpkin!

Though fall technically comes to us on Monday, September 23rd, I couldn’t wait to enjoy some pumpkin and spice, so I made an easy pumpkin spice yogurt: Greek yogurt, plain canned pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, along with some sweetener to pull it all together.

For me, those delicious flavors conjure up images of leaves turning color; sitting outdoors on a sunny afternoon, the radiant heat cutting through the chill; and the anticipation of Halloween and Thanksgiving soon to come. Pumpkin and the spices that go with fall have many health benefits that make them the perfect fit for satisfying our taste buds while keeping us healthy. Find a dozen ideas that incorporate pumpkin, as well as an easy recipe, below!

Power Up with Pumpkin

Pumpkin is packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that make it a top pick for nutrient density. It has 2 ½ times the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin A, which is good for vision and our immune system. Make it a point to include healthy pumpkin dishes in your diet this fall and you’ll increase your chances of not getting colds and other viruses that start making the rounds.

Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C and potassium, and is a good source of copper, manganese, vitamin B2, vitamin E, and iron. The antioxidants in pumpkin make it a food that neutralizes free radicals, stopping them from causing cell damage that leads to premature aging, cancer, heart disease, and most other chronic illnesses.

Pair all those nutrients with the fact that pumpkin is low calorie (30 calories per cup), and high in fiber (3 grams per cup), and you can see why pumpkin makes the superfoods list. It’s also a great choice for weight management as a low cal, low carb (12 grams per cup), high nutrient swap for white rice and pasta which have minimal nutrients (240 calories,48 grams carb, and <1 gram fiber per cup). And the fiber bonus helps keep us full longer and better able to make healthy food choices during the day.

Spice It Up

I’m sure you agree that the spices we gravitate toward in the fall are simply delicious and add tremendously to the warm, rich, sweet, savory, and delightful aspects of the foods and beverages we put them in. They’re great for their health attributes as well and have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal properties.

Just like pumpkin, fall spices including cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg and ginger contain powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols. Cinnamon also acts as a natural preservative, can reduce the risk of diabetes, lower cholesterol, and regulate blood pressure. Clove can kill off bacteria, may promote bone health, and protects against cancer. Ginger can help prevent and treat colds, and its anti-inflammatory mechanisms can help with muscle and joint pain. It’s no wonder these spices have been prized the world over for millennia.

Easy Pumpkin Add-Ins

Whether you start from scratch or open a can of pumpkin puree, make it a part of your routine to add this glorious, nutritious food to your diet throughout the season. Remember to add a hefty dose of the spices, as well, for a true pumpkin spice treat.

  • Stir into oatmeal. Make it savory or sweet.
  • Make soup. Blend into any creamy vegetable soup for an added layer of fall.
  • Add it to chili. You’ll add a sweet, earthy undertone.
  • Put it in spaghetti sauce. The tomato/pumpkin flavor is delicious over ravioli.
  • Spread it on your bagel. Add a little maple syrup and you’ve got a great, low-cal spread.
  • Stir it into applesauce. Pumpkin applesauce…yum.
  • Make compound butter. Mix a little pumpkin puree into softened butter along with a bit of brown sugar and your choice of fall spices. Spread on your favorite bread item.
  • Blend into mashed potatoes. Pumpkin adds a sweet, nutty flavor.
  • Add to pancake and waffle batter. Reduce the liquid and add a bit more flour to compensate for the high water content of pumpkin, but you’ll have a delicious pancake or waffle with more nutrients and fiber.
  • Make smoothies. Add to your favorite recipes for a wonderful seasonal smoothie.
  • Stir into your next curry. A great thickener.
  • Top shepherd’s pie. Season pumpkin puree with salt and pepper and top your pie with this instead of mashed potatoes.

Healthy Pumpkin FroYo

Serves 8. Prep 40 min. Ready in 2.5 hrs.

Ingredients
1 – 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 ½ cups non-fat plain Greek-style yogurt
½ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground clove

Directions

  1.  In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients until smooth, refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, and freeze in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Nutrition – 95 calories, 20 gm carbohydrate, 2 gm fiber, 4 gm protein, 0 gm fat

Karen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website atwww.NutritionConnectionNV.com

To find a nutrition expert in your area, go to the academy website – Find an Expert https://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert

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