By Taylor Sutton, MS, RD
United Supermarkets’ Lifestyle Desk
Pumpkin is the seemingly the fall mascot. We love the general hype it gets this time of year because it adds a refresh to the diet with some fun new flavors and nutrients.
Coming in at a whopping 49 calories per cup it’s an excellent choice to use in everything from breakfast to dessert. It also boasts 49% of your daily needs of vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin E, folate, and niacin. We wrote about pumpkins a few weeks ago with having high vitamin A and beta carotene levels which help the body fight off infections, better eyesight, and may help protect the skin from harmful UV rays and we are back to keep pushing it.
Since it’s a seasonal favorite let’s go into a few more fun facts about pumpkins and why they are nutritionally great.
Pumpkins are technically a fruit but are part of the winter squash family with a close relation to cucumbers and melons. Having over 45 different varieties of pumpkin, they each have about 500 seeds so if you’re buying and cooking fresh pumpkin at home keep the seeds for roasting to add some additional iron, fiber, and crunch as a topper for your next soup, salad, or snack. Something big we want to touch on is that canned pumpkin isn’t just pumpkin.
It’s actually a mix of quite a few different types of squash which was set by the USDA back in 1957 and hasn’t changed too much since. So if you want the real deal, look for canned pumpkin that says ‘100% pure pumpkin’ or bring one home to roast yourself.
If you go down that route, be sure to look for a ‘pie pumpkin’ or ‘sugar pumpkin’ that is around 3 pounds to give you the same volume as what you’d be getting in the can. The reason to look for these normal, but different pumpkins, is that the pumpkins you carve versus the ones you cook with are different.
Oddly enough, 80% of the US pumpkin crop is available in October but with canned pumpkin, you can grab it year round. It’s excellent for substituting in baking and adding into breakfast or smoothie bowls. So keep using that delicious pumpkin and try this recipe to spice up your fall mornings or add in the crunch to your dessert.
Pumpkin Perfected Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup pistachios
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. On a large baking sheet place a piece of parchment down and spread the mixture out evenly
3. Incorporate all ingredients into a bowl and mix evenly
4. Bake for 20 minutes at a time stirring between each round. You will do about 2-3 rounds depending on how crunchy you want your mixture to be