Awesome Health Benefits of Pumpkin (Plus a Recipe)
The fall season is rapidly approaching which means you’re about to start seeing pumpkin flavored everything all over the place. Besides being tasty pumpkins also have a ton of health benefits, so their addition to your diet should be a welcome one. Here’s why.
Pumpkin only has 49 calories and three grams of fiber, which means it can fill you up on few calories and help stabilize the blood sugar. Getting plenty of fiber in your meals can keep you from snacking between them. Pumpkins can also help your body recover faster after a workout, thanks to their potassium levels that out beat a banana. If you’re trying to manage your weight though, try to get your pumpkin in the form of an oven roasted side dish, as opposed to the pie variety.
Don’t forget the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body create serotonin, which can help keep you mood up. To eat the seeds, scrape them out of a pumpkin and bake them on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, until they dry out. You can also buy them at the store, but they’re easy to make and an incredibly cheap snack to have on hand.
Like carrots, pumpkins are a great source of vitamin A. They are high in carotenoids which converts to vitamin A in the body. One serving will give you 200 percent of your daily recommended value. To get more pumpkin in your diet, try making pumpkin oatmeal bars for breakfast on the go. Here’s a recipe:
3 cups oats (use gluten free if you prefer that route)
2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 agave syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/3 cup chocolate chips, plus more if you want to sprinkle on top. (These are optional if you don’t want the added sugar.)
1. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and spray down a 8×11 inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
2. Next turn your oatmeal into oat flour by pureeing it in the blender for a couple minutes. (Food processors also work great, of course.) Just make sure everything gets blended.
3. Take a medium sized bowl and put just 2 1/2 cups of the oat flour into it. Then add the baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt, and whisk it together.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin, applesauce, agave syrup, vanilla, and coconut oil, and whisk it until it gets creamy. Next add in the flour slowly and keep mixing until it’s all combined.
5. Then evenly fold in the chocolate chips, and then pour the batter into the pan. Add more chocolate chips on top if you want. Bake for somewhere between 15-25 minutes until it’s cooked through, then remove from the heat, let cool, and slice into bars. Store them in an airtight container for ready snacks on the go.
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About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.