Pumpkin-flavored everything takes over shelves and coffee drink menus each fall, but for good reason: Pumpkin is not just delicious, its health benefits are many.
By Lynice Anderson, RD, CDE, LD, Renown director of cardiac research
From coffee drinks to muffins and cream cheese to marshmallows, it is easy to see why pumpkin has become so popular. Full of nutrition and with an amazing flexibility as an ingredient, pumpkin simply works. The culinary possibilities are endless and go beyond the traditional pumpkin pie for dessert.
Pumpkin’s Health Benefits
The bright orange color is your first clue that pumpkin is full of vitamins and antioxidants. Remember, pumpkin is a squash that is both healthy and delicious. One cup of cooked pumpkin has only 49 calories, is loaded with beta carotene (an antioxidant) and potassium and provides three grams of fiber.
If you use canned pumpkin, there are a few options on the shelf. Canned pumpkin is just plain pumpkin. This can be a great addition to soups, stews, smoothies and even spaghetti sauce. Pumpkin pie mix is also available but contains more calories and the spices that make pumpkin pie so tasty.
You can start your day with light and fluffy pumpkin pancakes or delicious pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin can be used in both recipes to replace some of the oil needed for moisture and tenderness. When replacing liquid vegetable oil with canned pumpkin, make sure the recipe will work with the color and flavor that pumpkin will add. You will use the same amount of pumpkin as the oil you are omitting.
The Endless Possibilities of Pumpkin
You can use cooked and cubed pumpkin like you would any other squash in a variety of recipes. Roasted pumpkin can be scooped out of the pumpkin halves and used just like the canned version.
Learn more about eating well with Renown’s Health Improvement Programs.