The Great Pumpkin

It’s Up To You
March 31, 2016

I started eating clean several years ago and am very happy I did. I find I have much more energy and pass my annual physicals with flying colors. One of the first things I did when I decided to eat clean was to avoid all processed foods. Since I don’t particularly like to cook, this wasn’t an easy transition. It took some rethinking but now I treat processed food like poison with one exception.

The one exception to my “no processed food rule” is canned pumpkin. Now pumpkin may not seem like a food most of us would consider eating often but when you look at all the benefits pumpkin has to offer, you too will wonder why not.

Pumpkin happens to be one processed food that is better canned than fresh. (As with any food product you buy, be sure to read the label. In canned pumpkin you may find a small percentage of “squash” listed as one of the ingredients, which is not a bad thing however, if the label lists

I was surprised to learn that many professional cooks prefer using canned pumpkin in their recipes. Let me explain. Canned pumpkin is fresh pumpkin pureed and cooked down, removing the water. You can always puree fresh pumpkin yourself, but, again, I don’t like to cook so buying canned is much easier.

The process used to make pumpkin puree simply concentrates all of the pumpkin’s nutrients making them easier to absorb. A pumpkin may not look all that appetizing but it’s very tasty and there are a significant amount of nutrients in the mighty pumpkin. It’s also low in calories and packed with lots of fiber.

The fiber content alone should put pumpkin at the top of your grocery list. Not only does fiber help with weight management because you feel full longer, a high fiber diet has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. Pumpkins are high in vitamin A, which promotes good vision and the antioxidant beta-carotene that give pumpkins their rich orange color may prevent certain types of cancers.

The carotenoids in pumpkin are great for your skin and may actually help keep wrinkles at bay and the Vitamin C is great for your immune system.

There is one problem. I don’t think I’m alone on this but when I think of eating pumpkin, I think of pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. Luckily there are many healthier alternatives to pies and breads for incorporating pumpkin into your diet.

You could start your day with a pumpkin smoothie, add a little pumpkin puree to your oatmeal or make up a batch of oatmeal pumpkin pancakes. Enjoy a bowl of pumpkin soup or mix some in your yogurt for lunch. Nibble on pumpkin seeds for a snack or add some to your hummus recipe. A little pumpkin won’t significantly change the flavor of your favorite stew or pasta sauce but you’ll get the added benefits that pumpkins provide.

Looking for a sweet addition to your diet? Pick up a can of pumpkin. It’s a win win!

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