Friday, September 17, 2010


Since fall is among us (at least here in the Northwest) I thought I would start off the Superfood posts with Pumpkin.

Most people just think of pumpkins as “fall décor”. They get carved and set out on the porch, then thrown away with the trash. The only time most people eat pumpkin is at Thanksgiving, and it is in the form of a refined sugar, refined flour filled pie.

What most people don’t know is that pumpkins are one of the most nutritious foods known to man kind. Pumpkins are loaded with Carotene, iron, zinc, and fiber... and that’s just the plant itself! Pumpkin seeds are filled with copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. They are also high in protein and the oil in the seeds are high in phytosterols (which are plant-based fatty acids that mimic cholesterol, which help to reduce blood cholesterol levels!)

I am going to quickly go over what all these nutrients do for your body:

Carotene: Neutralizes free radicals in the body and in the lens of the eyes, preventing the formation of cataracts (free radicals are molecules that attack cell membranes)

Iron: Functions as carrier of oxygen in the body. It also aids in immune function, temperature regulation, energy metabolism, and many other things!

Zinc: Plays an important role in the formation of protein in the body, and aids in wound healing, blood formation and general growth and maintenance of all body tissue.

Fiber: Lowers blood cholesterol levels, prevents constipation,

Copper: Forms hemoglobin, which helps keeps bones, blood vessels and nerves healthy

Magnesium: Builds bones, releases energy from muscle storage, and regulates body temperature.

Phosphorus: Builds bones, releases energy from fat, protein, and carbs.

Phytosterols: Reduces blood cholesterol levels, they help your body build any hormone that it needs

You can get all of these health benefits in your friendly fall pumpkins! So this year, think about getting a few extra pumpkins (the smaller the pumpkin, the better for eating) to eat, along with your carving pumpkins. Oh, and canned pumpkin, IS JUST AS GOOD FOR YOU! (now that’s rare!)

Not sure how to eat pumpkin?  Here are a few ideas:


Try baking it like you would a squash. If you don’t love the flavor, add some orange juice or cinnamon to it!

or try these great recipes:

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Quinoa Recipe
1 Cup Quinoa (uncooked)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
¾ Cup Vegetable Broth
¾ Cup Coconut Milk (not low fat)
1½ Cups Water
¼ Teaspoon Salt (optional)
¼ to ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon (or to taste)
1 Cup Canned Pumpkin


In medium sauce pan stir together Qunioa and olive oil over medium-high heat. Continue to stir for approximately one minute.
Add remaining ingredients (this includes the pumpkin) and stir. Bring to boil and then cover. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes (Check after15  minutes. If liquid has been absorbed and a creamy sauce remains, Quinoa is done - if not, stir and continue to simmer until done.
Give the Quinoa a final stir prior to serving. Garnish (optionally) with Cinnamon (which is also a superfood! More on that to come soon!)

 Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

1 1/2 c. mashed pumpkin
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Combine all the ingredients using a fork to mix them together.  Pour it into an uncooked pie crust.Bake at 400 degrees 45-50 minutes.  Let cool before cutting.

For more great ideas check this out

Pumpkin Seeds:

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds:
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
Sea salt to taste

Optional Seasoning To Taste:
garlic powder or garlic salt
black pepper
cayenne pepper
seasoning salt
Cajun seasoning blend
chili powder
Italian seasoning or other herbs

Preheat oven to 300º F.

While it's O.K. to leave some strings and pulp on your seeds (it adds flavor), clean off any major chunks.
Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the melted oil and seasonings of your choice. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet.
Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
or, try this recipe:

Pumpkin Seed Dip:
1 small shallot
1 garlic clove
1 small jalapeno
1/3 cup flaxseeds
1 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
 Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium oranges, juice and zest
1 small lemon, juice and zest
Extra virgin olive oil

Process the shallot, garlic, and jalapeno to a fine mince in a food processor.  Add the flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds and process again. Cut the cilantro with sissors into the food processor.  Add the mayonnaise, spices, orange and lemon juices and zests, and process to a fine spreading consistency.  Add more orange juice if necessary to create a creamier texture. Place in a bowl, and garnish with paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.

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