Wednesday, September 26, 2018

With fall comes the pumpkin “this” and pumpkin “that” everywhere we turn. The pumpkin is a type of squash and a fruit, although it is usually considered a vegetable. Pumpkins have been around for thousands of years and used in various ways. Did you know that many of the early settlers would not have survived without pumpkins and nutrients they received from them? They also used the pumpkin and its seeds in medication. There are so many benefits to pumpkin and I would like to share a couple of my favorites.

Pumpkin is great for your health and can help with immunity boosting. There are high amounts of Vitamin C, synergistic carotenoids, and beta – carotene in pumpkin flesh and seeds. Beta – carotene is good for your immune system due to it converting to Vitamin A and then triggering the making of white cells – this helps with fighting infection. The Beta – carotene and other carotenoids found in pumpkin can assist in detoxifying your liver. One cup of cooked pumpkin can contain more than 200 percent of your recommended daily Vitamin A intake. Pumpkins can even assist in weight loss because it is a high fiber food, which helps you feel full faster and longer.

Pumpkin has many benefits for those with diabetes or high blood sugar. It can slow the rate that sugar is absorbed into your blood. Several studies have shown that pumpkin can help “improve insulin resistance and slow the progression of diabetes,” including a study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry.

Pumpkins are great for your heart. They are full of potassium and can have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure. According to the studies, it can be as important to consume enough potassium as it is to lower sodium intake for people with high blood pressure. Pumpkins are packed with soluble fiber, and this fiber aids in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. As I stated before, pumpkins have beta – carotene, and this can help reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Pumpkin seeds may be small; however, they pack a punch of nutrients. Pumpkin seeds contain: protein, magnesium, copper, phytosterols, manganese, zinc, and antioxidants. They are a great source of tryptophan, which converts into serotonin and melatonin which assists in anxiety and regulating sleep. Pumpkin seeds are a natural antidepressant, because they are full of zinc and magnesium and found in nature.

The following is the Oats & Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies recipe from www.foodpleasureandhealth.com. These Breakfast Cookies have the seasonal spin with pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, because pumpkin is so popular this time of year. You can easily swap out the nut butter, seeds, and sweetener of your choice in order to meet your lifestyle needs. They are intended to be breakfast-friendly so it’s soft, dense, and not super sweet, but you could increase the sweetness a tad, drizzle melted chocolate, or add nuts for crunch.

 

Oats & Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats (use GF certified for GF diet)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup honey (use maple syrup for vegan or other sweeteners of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon peanut butter (or use any other nut butter of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds (use other seeds of your choice)
  • 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all the above ingredients and mix them well.
  4. Take about 1/4 cup of the mixture and form them into a cookie and place them on a parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes and allow it to cool in the oven for additional 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and enjoy.

Serves: 16 cookies

 

Lindsey Preston, DTR, Coordinator Food Service