Friday, October 12, 2018

healthy living: 4 Easy Pumpkin Meals for Fall!

It's October, which obviously means pumpkin everything.  Pumpkin, when not in the form of a spiced latte from Starbucks, is an incredibly nutrient dense food.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with enjoying a latte here and there, but the pumpkin flavor they use certainly doesn't have any of the vitamin A, antioxidants, and fiber that whole or canned pumpkin does.  If you are looking to mix things up a bit, check out the ideas below!

(above) Coconut Flour Pumpkin Bars - Gluten Free!
If you are someone who tries to avoid gluten and dairy, these bars are a great substitution for classic pumpkin pie because they use coconut flour and don't contain evaporated or condensed milk.  They taste great as is or topped with whipped cream, or yogurt (dairy or non-dairy).   The recipe I used only required one bowl, which is always a plus!

To Make:  I used this recipe by Detoxinista for inspiration: Coconut Flour Pumpkin Bars.  I used a little less syrup and an extra egg and they still turned out well.   

(above) Pumpkin Chili 
I've heard people rave about pumpkin chili in the past, but this was the first time I've tried it and it didn't disappoint.  Chili is the perfect comforting and nutrient dense food for the fall.  It also freezes well and can be used as leftovers various ways (such as topping a baked potato or stuffing into baked bell peppers the next day).  

To Make: If you have a normal chili recipe that you usually use, all you have to do is mix in a can of pumpkin puree (or half if you are nervous about it at first) into the chili!  You can use as little or as much spice as you would like (such as chili powder, cumin, or garlic powder).  I've seen recipes that add pumpkin spice a well, but I didn't do that.  I used the following steps: 1) Browned the ground beef with onion and bell peppers 2) Mixed in 1 large can of diced tomatoes + 2 boxes (or cans) or beans 3) Added about 1 tablespoon each of chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder 4) Stirred in 1 can of pumpkin puree.  Enjoy by itself or with cornbread or crackers added in! 

(above) Pumpkin Pancakes
Add some fall flavor to your favorite pancakes by using a bit of pumpkin puree and spices!  You can use your favorite packaged pancake mix (I like these Paleo ones by Birch Benders but you can use whatever) or make them from scratch.  

To Make: Mix up pancake batter as usual and then stir in a couple of heaping spoons of pumpkin puree.  Sprinkle in some cinnamon and pumpkin spice and cook as usual.  Option to top with chopped apples for more fall flavor!

(above) Sweet Potato Pumpkin Leek Soup
When I tried out this recipe it was my first-time cooking with an actual pumpkin, rather than canned.  Warning: If you don't have a very sharp knife, do not attempt to cut a "pie" pumpkin or butternut squash that isn't softened. This soup turned out really flavorful and is extremely nutrient dense and full of prebiotic fiber (which is good for gut health).  I found myself sipping on this soup out of a coffee mug on busy days just to get extra nutrition in, but it would pair well with a nice salad or sandwich as well.  This recipe is quite simple, but it does take about 20 minutes to prep the vegetables.  This soup does freeze well.  

To Make:  I basically followed this recipe from Allrecipes: Sweet Potato Pumpkin Leek Soup.  Please note that to bake or cook, you don't use the type of pumpkins that you carve, you use the small "pie" or "sugar" pumpkins from the produce section.  

Kelsey Stricklen, MS RD CLT is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in women's health and food sensitivities. She runs a primarily virtual private nutrition practice out of Grand Rapids, Michigan called Nutrition in the Mitten. You can check out her services and website here.  Or find her on Instagram here.

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