The Real Great Pumpkin

It’s that time of year for big, pulpy glowing orange things. Of course I ‘m talking about pumpkins. Everything seems to be pumpkin focused in the grocery stores and coffee shops, but there is really a better way to do pumpkin- by taking what’s carved out of that jack-o-lantern and turning it into a tasty health food source.

The “pumpkin flavored” options you find are often just pumped up pumpkin, full of chemicals and sugars. A Starbucks 16 oz. pumpkin spiced late with reduced-fat milk is 380 calories and 50 grams of sugar. That’s pulp fiction. The real pumpkin is chock full of vitamins and minerals.

Pumpkin pulp and seeds contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, vitamin B5, vitamin A, C and E, and zinc. This rich collection promotes healthy vision, a strong immune system, increased collagen production, bone health and helps fight off cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Pumpkins also provide a great natural source of fiber that aids in digestion, weight loss and gastrointestinal health.

The real great stuff comes in the seeds. Organic pumpkin seeds are loaded with these nutrients as well as providing essential fatty acids. Organic pumpkin seed oil is a great alternative for cooking and for salad dressings. The seeds are also full of tryptophan, the amino acid that helps the body make serotonin. That makes for real sweet dreams.

So skip the pumpkin spiced potato chips and go for the real thing. You can cook with pumpkin pulp (try mixing with roasted vegetables) or go raw by sprinkling pumpkin seeds into your salad or just oven roasting them with Himalayan sea salt for a great snack. Go ahead and have pumpkin for desert too. There are many healthy gluten free pumpkin pies available made with natural ingredients that are both dairy and grain free.

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