By Cristina McMullen, Certified Wellness Coach, Bio-Energetic Practitioner

Fall is finally here, which means it is time for pumpkins! Whether it be carving pumpkins, drinking pumpkin spice lattes, or eating pumpkin pie, pumpkins embody everything festive and comforting about fall and the coming cooler weather.  But there is much more to these gourds than pretty decorations, fun activities, and delicious (yet very sugary) desserts and drinks.  Pumpkins are full of nutrition and are actually considered by some to be a fall super food!

Here are some reasons why you may want to add some pumpkin into your diet this season:

Pumpkin Helps Protect Eyesight
Just one cup of mashed pumpkin contains over 200% of the RDI of Vitamin A, which helps with vision.  Pumpkins also contain beta-carotene, the compound that gives pumpkins their orange hue, which is converted by the body into a form of Vitamin A, adding more protection to your vision.  They are also loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that may help prevent cataracts and even slow down the development of macular degeneration.

Pumpkin Helps Boost Immunity
The same cup of mashed pumpkin also contains 20% of the RDI of Vitamin C.  This single vitamin helps boost our immune system so that we can be proactive in staying healthy this coming cold and flu season.

Pumpkin Seeds Can Help Protect Your Heart
Nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are naturally high in plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in some studies to help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Pumpkin Seeds Can Boost Your Mood
Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan.  This amino acid is important in the production of serotonin, one of the major neurotransmitters that impact our mood.

Pumpkins Can Aid in Weight Loss
Once cup of pumpkin contains 3 gram of fiber.  Because fiber is what helps us to feel fuller longer, pumpkin can help keep us from eating too much over the holidays and packing on those winter pounds.

Pumpkin May Help Ward Off Diabetes
Aside from the benefit of adding fiber into your diet, pumpkins have been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, and increase the amount of insulin your body produces.

Pumpkin May Reduce Cancer Risk
We now know that pumpkins contain very high amounts of beta-carotene.  Research has shown that people who eat foods rich in beta-carotene may have a lower risk of developing certain forms of cancer, especially prostate and breast cancers.

So go ahead and make both of these amazing pumpkin recipes this fall!  They are both full of flavor and guilt-free!

PUMPKIN CHOWDER

Ingredients:

  • 2 sugar pumpkins (also called pie pumpkins), peeled and diced into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 organic celery stalks, sliced
  • 3 large organic carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 organic, free range chicken breasts
  • 3 quarts organic vegetable broth
  • 1 stick organic, pasture raised butter
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • Sriracha (optional)

Directions:

  • Before cutting up the vegetables, add the chicken breasts and vegetable broth to a large stockpot, cover, and cook on high in order to start cooking the chicken.
  • In another large pan, melt the coconut oil. Add the vegetables, garlic, and seasoning and cook until the vegetables begin to soften (about 7-10 minutes).
  • Add the vegetable mix to the stockpot of chicken and broth. Chop ½ bunch of cilantro and add to the soup.  Continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Remove the chicken, cool a bit, and shred before returning it back to the pot.
  • While the chicken is cooling, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the gluten free flour to make a paste. Begin to incorporate some broth into the flour paste one cup at a time until it begins to have a soupy consistency and then add this mix to the stockpot.
  • Bring the soup to a boil and allow it to thicken for a few minutes.
  • Add the almond milk.
  • Serve the soup and garnish it with extra fresh cilantro and, if you want some extra kick, some sriracha.

 HEALTHY PUMPKIN FUDGE

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut butter (I used Nutiva’s Coconut Manna)
  • 1 ½ cups organic pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup raw, local honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Directions:

  • Melt the coconut butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring out all of the clumbs
  • Remove from heat and mix together with the remainder of the ingredients
  • Spread out on a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours, or until the fudge hardens to consistency
  • Cut into pieces and enjoy!