How to healthfully enjoy everyone’s favorite fall flavor
| By Jamie Rametta|
September stirs Fall excitement. And Fall equals pumpkin paradise!
We load up on pumpkins for decoration, pumpkin pie, pumpkin frappuccinos and pumpkin spice scents.
As for this foodie dietitian? My pumpkin excitement centers around all the vitamin A, fiber and taste this fall vegetable can deliver. In only 3 tablespoons of this orange veggie, you can meet all of your vitamin A needs for the day with no fat, added sugar or sodium!
So how do you choose, consume (in a delicious and nutritious way) and store pumpkin?
Let’s go over some pumpkin 101:
1. No need to go fresh on this one because the canned version is so convenient and nutrient-rich. But don’t be deceived — make sure to choose the canned pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie filling to avoid all the extra sugar. Canned pumpkin should read “100% pure pumpkin.” When looking at the ingredients list, the only thing in it should be “pumpkin” (no sugar).
2. Start out adding a tablespoon of pumpkin to some of your everyday favorites and work your way up. Get creative. Try adding pumpkin to your:
- Smoothies. Try my pumpkin tofu shake: recipe
- Oatmeal (stir in)
- Cottage cheese or yogurt (go parfait style or stir in)
- Whole wheat pancakes or waffles add in batter; try my pumpkin pecan pancakes:
3) Pair it with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and/or vanilla for a fall taste and to help reduce the need for sugar. Pecans add a nice crunch, too.
4) If a little sweetness is needed, add a teaspoon for maple syrup or brown sugar at a time. These have a tiny bit more nutrition than white sugar (very little, but it’s something) and sometimes a little sweetness will help you enjoy the nutritious food more.
5) Store canned pumpkin safely in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days, the USDA recommends. If you don’t think you’ll use it that soon, consider putting it in ice cube trays and freezing it. Once frozen, transfer to a jar or freezer-safe resealable bag.
Now you’re ready for some healthy pumpkin consumption!
Jamie Rametta, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, is a registered dietitian, a lifelong cook and a frequent gym-goer. She’s also a proud dog mom and a newlywed.