Wacky Wednesday: All things Pumpkin!

It is that time of year again…all things Pumpkin! It is more than a decoration for carving; it can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen and has some great health benefits as well. No I’m not talking about a pumpkin spice latte or a pumpkin donuts although I do understand the appeal to these things! I would rather get the benefits of pumpkin in its super food form in some fun recipe ideas.

So what are the health benefits of Pumpkin? Well it has a huge amount of immune boosting beta carotene which is also good for eye health as well as many other vitamins.  1 cup of canned pumpkin contains 80 calories, 1 gram of fat, 7 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. Try adding some canned pumpkin to your morning oatmeal with some cinnamon and nutmeg or make a pumpkin pie protein shake with vanilla protein, canned pumpkin, oats and vanilla milk. For a dessert treat try out my banana pumpkin ice cream.

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent snack and great way to get in some healthy fats and protein which helps to stabilize blood sugar when eaten as a snack during the day.

Stable blood sugar means weight loss if you’re trying to lose.

1 ounce of pumpkin seeds is a good serving in which you can get plenty of magnesium ,zinc and potassium. They are great eaten on their own or added on top of oatmeal or in a homemade trail mix or granola mix.

Here is a great make ahead snack idea that uses  canned pumpkin as well as pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)

PUMPKIN ENERGY BITES

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. (about 1 packed cup) chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds or  ground flax seedsPumpkin Energy Bites
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (dry, not cooked)
  • 1 cup toasted unsweetened  coconut flakes
  • 1 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Combine the dates, honey, pumpkin puree, chia (or flax) seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and combined.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the oats, coconut flakes and pepitas until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Once the mixture is cool (and easier to work with), use a spoon or cookie scoop to shape it into your desired size of energy balls. (about 1-inch in diameter.)  If you want to make  bars you can line a small baking pan with parchment paper, and press the mixture evenly into the pan, let it cool, and then cut into squares.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (Storing them in the refrigerator especially helps the energy bites hold their shape.

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