Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Fall has now arrived, so that means shorter, cooler days….and pumpkin spice everything! Pumpkins are everywhere and that can be a great thing. Pumpkins in of themselves are a nutritious powerhouse. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides:

  • 50 calories and almost 3g of fibre
  • 245% of your required Vitamin A intake, a good source of vitamin C and potassium while also providing other vitamin and minerals such as vitamin E, riboflavin, folate, copper and manganese

Don’t forget the seeds inside! A 1oz serving of pumpkin seeds (pepitas) provides heart healthy fats, 5g of fibre, 5 g of protein as well as a great source of magnesium:

However sometimes, it is what we do to our pumpkins that could provide us with much more added sugar than would be advised for the average Canadian. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 10% of your intake come from added sugar, and ideally to aim closer to 5%. For a 2000 calorie diet that means no more than 12 tsp of added sugar (10%) or working closer to 6 tsp (5%) a day. Many of our pumpkin spiced beverages have very minimal amounts of pumpkin (or none) and can provide more than 6 tsp of added sugar in one serving! If pumpkin spice drinks are your thing, then of course you should enjoy one. But these are better off as a treat and not to replace a daily cup of coffee. We should think of pumpkin spice as a flavor, rather than providing any of the health benefits of actual pumpkins.

Let’s look at some ways for how to actually add this great fall food into more than our pie or hot drink.

First step is cooking the pumpkin; you can try this fast and easy way (or used canned pure pumpkin – make sure it isn’t the pie filling):

  • Cut pumpkin in half and take out the seeds (save for later)
  • Put pumpkin on a plate cut side down and cover with plastic wrap
  • Microwave for ~10-15 minutes (time will vary for size of pumpkin and microwave)
  • Once you can easily pierce with a fork it is done
  • Scrape out the insides and puree in a food processor

Now try adding your pumpkin to:

  • Chili (see recipe link) or soups
  • Your breakfast in pancakes, oatmeal or muffins
  • Baking (granola bars, bread, etc)
  • Pasta sauce or risotto
  • Seeds as a snack or sprinkled onto a salad; or try adding to your pumpkin soup for a crunch

Recipe link:

Try a pumpkin twist for your next batch of chili!