Fall is officially here. No more denying it.
As most of us are adjusting to less sun, darker mornings, and colder temperatures we are learning to re-vamp our daily schedules so that we can continue to feel happy and full of energy every day.
Keeping me energized and focused this Fall are three very important things:
- Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. Even though it’s dark out when I get up, I do it. It makes me feel consistent and helps my body adjust and feel more awake during the day.
- Getting outside on a daily basis. Even when the weather is gray and rainy, it’s important to get outside in nature and breathe in the fresh air. It’s too easy to spend the whole day hiding inside the house and getting stir-crazy. Even just walking to get the mail or taking a quick trip around the garden can make a huge difference.
- Being social. When the weather is gray, we have to work extra hard to make sure our mood doesn’t get gray too! A great way to do this is to book multiple social and fun activities during your week. The social connection and laughter keep me feeling happy and full of life:)
OK, that’s great information I know, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.
They’re everywhere these days. Other than carving pumpkins and making pie, it can be hard to remember all of the amazing things that can be done to take full advantage of this seasonal powerhouse of nutrients.
Pumpkins are loaded with nutrition that is vital to keeping us healthy during the change of seasons. Just some of the important nutrients are:
Vitamin A: Crucial to maintaining eyesight and immune system health. It also allows cells to communicate and develop within the body.
Vitamin C: You all know this one by now. It plays a vital role in immune system health as well as protein metabolism and collagen (skin) production. It is a popular antioxidant and aids in the absorption of iron in the digestive tract.
Vitamin E: This vitamin plays a key role in immune system support and cell differentiation. It is also a major antioxidant.
Fiber: Pumpkin’s high fiber content helps with digestion and health of the good gut bacteria.
Zinc: Pumpkin seeds are known for being high in zinc. This mineral is involved in protein synthesis, immune system function, and the creation of hundreds of enzymes within the body. Wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division are dependent on zinc also.
Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic source of healthy fats, fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium just to name a few. They are also high in tryptophan which is a type of protein that leads to the creation of the hormone serotonin. Serotonin is a key hormone in the regulation of mood as well as transmitting signals to the brain for relaxation and sleep.
Between the pumpkin itself and the seeds, you have a complete powerhouse of nutrition that should not be overlooked.
Because of the diverse profile of minerals and vitamins in both pumpkin and the seeds, they make a fantastic and almost perfect post-workout snack to replenish electrolytes. I am NOT a fan of those chemically produced electrolyte drinks that are often advertised towards athletes and active people. Pumpkin and seeds can be a perfect substitute.
So, what can you do with pumpkins that isn’t making pie or carving?
Spice up your coffee.
No, I’m not telling you to go to Starbucks and order a drink that may as well be called “sugar explosion”, but I’m here to show you how easy you can make your own pumpkin spiced latte at home!
Pumpkin Spice Lattes are delicious and easy to make right in your own home. The key here is to give the milk a quick blend (I used my magic bullet) to get the creamiest foam ever. I’m a bit of a foam snob so this was very key for me.
~~~DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte (serves 2)~~~
- 2 cups milk (I prefer almond milk)
- 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup freshly brewed espresso OR 2/3 cup strong coffee
In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and honey and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Now bring to a boil and stir in vanilla and spice. You can now transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don’t have a blender, don’t worry- just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk. Pour in espresso or coffee. Add cinnamon on top. Enjoy!
Something else I love making during this time of the year is my own pumpkin pie spice.
It’s so easy to make at home with a blend of a few common spices that there is no need to spend the $ and buy it pre-made. I used 1 tsp of my homemade spice mix in the above latte instead of the other spices and it was heavenly.
~~~DIY Pumpkin Spice Mix (Source: Oh She Glows)~~~
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
I always make a double or triple batch of this spice mix and store it in an airtight container for months. This way I have it ready during this season when almost all the recipes call for pumpkin spice.
Make a smoothie.
Pumpkin’s incredible nutritional benefits are an amazing addition to any smoothie recipe. You can use these smoothies as a morning meal, dessert, or post-workout refresher.
These are my two favorite pumpkin smoothies to drink this time of year.
~~~Creamy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (Source: Oh She Glows)~~~
Yield 4 cups
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 1 frozen ripe banana
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
Blend on high until combined and creamy.
~~~Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (Source: The Roasted Root)~~~
Yield: 2 cups
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 ripe banana, peeled and frozen
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Blend on high until combined and creamy.
Roast the seeds.
Any winter squash or pumpkin is loaded with seeds that are bursting with nutrition. These seeds can be toasted for a delicious snack all season long.
- Scoop all seeds out of the squash or pumpkin and place them in a bowl full of water.
- Rinse the seeds and watch as they rise to the top of the water after being separated from the skin. Clean the seeds as best possible and remove all bit of pumpkin that may still be stuck.
- Boil the seeds in slightly salted water for 10 minutes.
- Drain seeds and pat them dry with paper towel.
- Place the seeds in a bowl and toss them with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and any spices you wish.
- Transfer to a baking pan and bake in the oven at 325°F for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and stir. Bake another 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Be careful to monitor the seeds at this point so they do not burn on the inside. During the last few minutes of roasting, pop a few seeds open to ensure they have not burnt on the inside.
- Cool seeds completely before eating and enjoy!
Refresh your skin.
The rich vitamin and mineral content of pumpkin is ideal for your skin. Vitamin A, E, and C rejuvenate the skin and help repair any possible damage.
Next time you take a luxurious bath or need a bit of self-care try these recipes.
~~~Pumpkin Face Mask~~~
- 2 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree
- ½ tsp honey
- ½ tsp milk
- Clean your face. Remove all makeup and wash with mild soap.
- Combine pumpkin puree, honey, and milk in a small bowl and mix well.
- Apply mask using your fingers and avoid getting too close to your eyes. Apply any extra to your neck.
- Allow the mask to set for about 20 minutes before gently washing it off with warm water or a damp cloth.
~~~Pumpkin Pie Body Scrub~~~
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice mix (see recipe above)
Melt coconut oil and blend all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Rub all over body and massage as you go. Enjoy the luxurious scent and nutrition for your skin.
Over the years I have experimented a lot with muffin recipes. I love the idea of them being a great snack on the go, but hate that most of the muffin recipes were really just recipes for cake (don’t fool yourself people!).
These are my two favorite pumpkin muffins to date.
I’m obsessed with finding new ways to incorporate vegetables and nutrition into everyday breakfasts. As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited to be able to use the powerhouse of pumpkin nutrition in my breakfasts this Fall.
These two are my absolute favorite at the moment.
Pumpkin power! Time to get busy.
Which one are you excited to try first?
Love & Pumpkins,