By Paige Green, Hy-Vee Dietitian on Monday, October 12, 2020

5 perks and possibilities of pumpkin

pumpkinheadOctober is often associated with pumpkin, and rightfully so. This orange gourd steps into the spotlight now through Thanksgiving. From pie to lattes, pumpkin just pairs well with fall!

But if you're looking to taste the flavor of fall, skip the pumpkin-flavored boxes of popular snack foods and pick up pumpkin in canned form to whip up something in the kitchen yourself.

Give your family members a recipe to talk about and enjoy the health benefits that come from this fall favorite, too. Are you getting pump’d?

Protect your sight with a smoothie:

Wake those tired eyes with a smoothie that promotes eye health. Simply blend a quarter of a cup of 100% pure pumpkin with fruit such as bananas or pineapple, milk, and a dash of cinnamon for a festive fall drink. The vibrant orange color of pumpkin comes from the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body – which just so happens to be the A+ vitamin for eye health.

RECIPE: Pumpkin Smoothie

A bowl of chili to boost immunity:

pumpkinThere’s nothing better than warming up with a bowl of chili on a crisp, fall day. Up the autumnal flavors by adding a can of pumpkin to that very steamy soup! Not only are you adding more fiber to the pot, your family won’t even notice. (Take that, picky kids.) In addition, fall welcomes the start of cold and flu season, so why not protect yourself with the plethora of nutrients that defend us against sick days? You can thank the vitamins C and A found within this great gourd for that.

Eat mac-n-cheese and look young while you do it:

What’s better than vegetables? Invisible ones that your kids (or spouse) try to avoid. Serve up a dish that’s devoured by all, yet jazz it up with a can of pumpkin. Not only will the orange puree mix in well with the cheese, the beta-carotene found within this canned pick acts as a natural sunblock.  Hey there, gourd-geous! 

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

Stay powered with pumpkin energy bites:

Put energy bites with pumpkin on your snack list this week to keep hunger at bay the fall, flavorful way. Simply add a quarter of a cup of pumpkin puree to your favorite energy bite recipe and enjoy the flavor of the season in a no-bake bite. With an ample amount of fiber found in this canned option, you’ll notice snack attacks are few and far between.

RELATED: October is Healthiest State Month

Good to the last seed to protect against deficiencies:

Sure, you can roast the seeds found in the jack-o’-lantern you carve, or you can reap the nutritional powerhouses of the pumpkin seeds found within the grocery store. A majority of adults are deficient in the nutrient magnesium, yet – lucky for us – pumpkin (seeds) save the day again. Fatigue, muscle spasms and migraines are all common symptoms associated with a magnesium deficiency. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on salads, toss in your energy bites or enjoy in a trail mix to ensure you are living the fall season to the fullest.

paigePaige Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Iowa in 2012. She pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics during the spring of 2015. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Paige truly sets out to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life and her passion for people and nutrition inspires clients of all ages. You can find Paige at the Ames Hy-Vee on Lincoln Way.