Fall is a time for increased activities, increased social gatherings, increased expectations, and, for some, increased health challenges. One flavorful way to BOOST your immune system is with the amazing healthy benefits of pumpkin. This post is jam (or custard?) packed with nutrition information, recipes, gift ideas, and more. Read on!
Pumpkin. There’s no food on the planet that is so singularly connected to a season. The minute the calendar flips from September 30th to October 1st, we see a plethora of pumpkin-flavored foods on menus, pumpkin recipe blog posts, and pumpkin goodies on magazine covers. Read on to explore how pumpkin can support your fibromyalgia health and healing goals.
At this festive time of year, we love the flavor and just as importantly, we love how the flavor makes us feel. Our sense of taste often triggers our memories. Add a bit of cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice and we remember visits to grandma’s house, and more.
Unfortunately, many (if not most), of the featured pumpkin-flavored foods we see on store shelves and restaurant menus are loaded with sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial ingredients – none of which are good for the fibromyalgia body.
Are we doomed to sacrifice our health goals
just to enjoy a tasty seasonal treat?
Not so, Tonto.
In fact, when it comes to enjoying this Fall favorite, we truly can have it all. We can enjoy pumpkin flavor – and the pumpkin spice — without the added sugars and chemicals. You can check out recipes below.
But first, let’s look into what nutritional benefits pumpkin has to offer. Of course, I’m referring to real pumpkin – not the spiced and sweetened pumpkin pie mix.
Just. Plain. Pumpkin.
A nutritional powerhouse.
Pumpkin provides a healthy amount of fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins A, E, C, K, folate, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and more. The phytonutrients contained in pumpkin contribute to its anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
You can tell by its deep, rich color that it’s a wonderful antioxidant. It serves as an excellent source of carotenoids (yes, beta-carotene), which converts to the much-needed Vitamin A in the body. This vitamin is vital for eye health, heart health, immune system function, and protection against free radicals.
And, don’t forget the seeds!
Pumpkin seeds (also called, pepitas), contain magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, tryptophan, and more. For a recipe and information on roasting your own pumpkin seeds, check out this Pepita Treat article.
What does this all mean to you?
The fibromyalgia body is often nutrient-deficient. Because of intestinal inflammation, you may have a compromised immune system and a tendency toward poor nutrient absorption. It’s therefore, all the more important to support your body with high-quality, nutrient-dense, and fiber-rich foods. Pumpkin fits all of these categories making it an anti-inflammatory superfood.
How to experiment with pumpkin
Kitchen pumpkin experimentations don’t take as much ambition as you may think. Sure, if you choose to cook your own pumpkin, it’ll take a bit of effort. But the results are well worth it.
For roasted pumpkin, follow this basic procedure:
Purchase an eating-quality pumpkin (about 4 to 8 pounds and organic, if possible). Wash, slice in half, and clean out the seeds and stringy interior. Save the seeds and toast as directed above. Brush the pumpkin halves with desired oil and roast skin-side down in a baking dish or cookie sheet for about 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool, and then simply peel away the skin or scoop out the softened flesh.
If the thought of cutting a pumpkin in half seems daunting (or if it would increase the pain in your hands or wrists), there is a simpler option. Go ahead and purchase canned pumpkin. Look for organic, if possible, and you may be fortunate enough to find jarred options as this eliminates the potential BPA issue with cans.
As mentioned, check the label to be sure that it doesn’t contain other added ingredients – especially sugar.
Ready to experiment? When you think of pumpkin, if the only foods that come to mind are pies, breads, and cookies, it’s time to get creative.
You get to think
outside the box (or can)!
Consider adding a heaping serving of nutrients to your everyday meals, by stirring heaping tablespoons (or more) of pumpkin into these foods.
|Bean dishes||Curry dishes||Hummus|
|BBQ sauce||Marinara / tomato sauce||Protein pancakes|
|Quinoa porridge||Almond butter||Applesauce spread|
Do some of these items surprise you? I hope so. Use this list as a jumping off point to get your culinary juices flowing. It’s amazing how creative we can be when we give ourselves permission to try something new.
Of course, not every new creation will be a roaring success. Even if a dish doesn’t turn out as planned don’t consider it a failure. I’ve pretty much abandoned measuring tools and strictly followed recipes in my kitchen. I’ll be the first to say that my dishes rarely turn out as I plan. But, the encouraging part is that more often than not, they exceed my expectations.
Enjoy the season
without the sabotage!
Recipes, recipes, recipes
If you’re looking for a tasty, creamy, pumpkin-ey experience, look no further than pumpkin pudding. The variety of ways to enjoy this treat are endless. Add in your favorite flavor and texture options to make it your own.
Basic Pumpkin Protein Pudding
1 C Unsweetened almond or coconut milk
2 TB Chia seeds
¾ C Pumpkin puree (adjust as desired)
1-2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
1-2 TB Pure, grade B maple syrup
Directions: Mix chia seeds and nut milk. Shake or stir together and allow to soak for several hours or overnight to thicken. At desired consistency, add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
Options: 1 tsp vanilla extract, toasted walnuts, shredded unsweetened coconut, scoop of vanilla protein powder, etc.
If you’re looking to sip your favorite pumpkin flavors, here are a few beverage options to sample.
Looking for even more pumpkin recipe ideas? Here’s an abundance to choose from! Of course, keep in mind that not all are “healthy.” For example, recipes that rely heavily on any added sweetener has the power to spike your blood-sugar and zap your energy levels.
And now, for something completely different. If you’d like to experience the scent of pumpkin without the calories, try this luxurious treat.
I hope you’ll give these pumpkin options a try. Experimenting with various foods and flavors in the kitchen can be a lot of fun. Sometimes, just looking up recipes makes me hungry. If that’s the case for you, too, don’t let your hunger get the best of you. Re-visit this Fibro-Friendly Snack list boost your nutrient intake and tide you over until you can head to the store for some fibro-friendly pumpkin!
This article is my original work and first appeared at ProHealth.com. It is reprinted with kind permission and may be viewed HERE.