Does “being healthy” feel like a daunting task? Like everything “good” is off limits and a really good diet is pretty boring? I thought like this for a long time too… but I'm happy to say it's not the case ;-)
Eating healthy is fun! I'm being serious here… there are hundreds of different healthy foods that taste amazing and give you tons of energy… I cannot wait to share them with you! That's why i created “The Secret Foods” blog series which will be dedicated to the most amazing foods on the planet (in no particular order), What they are, Why they are important, and How to enjoy them… Here goes…
Top 10 AMAZING foods you need on your plate TODAY
#2 of 10 Pumpkin…
What it is….
Pumpkin is a winter squash, and comes in hundreds of varieties. While each type varies in shape, color, size and flavor, they all share some common characteristics. Their shells are hard and difficult to pierce, the inside is mildly sweet and a fine grained texture.… AND, they all have super healthy seeds inside their hollow cavities.
Winter squash are at their best from October to November when they are in season… but are also available from August through March.
We think about winter squash as a very starchy vegetable… and it is! About 90% of its total calories come from carbohydrate…. Research has shown that not all carbohydrates are created equal and the carb content of winter squash is no exception… made up of pectins - (specially structured carbohydrates) these components in winter squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties… wow!
Why it’s Important…
Amazing carbohydrate source for before and after exercise! In addition pumpkin (and most of the winter squash) is an excellent source of vitamin A, and a good source of vitamin C & fiber… Plus they are delicious :)
Here is a list of what Pumpkin (winter squash) has to offer:
A great source of healthy carbohydrates
A very good source of vitamin A
A good source of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B6, manganese, & copper
How to Enjoy it!…
You can buy pureed pumpkin in the off season… but right now they are in season!
You don't have to peel it. Cut the ends off, cut the squash in half lengthwise down the middle, scoop out the seeds and bake at 400 for 20min… push on the top, you should be able to create an imprint when its done. Remove from oven let cool.
Save those seeds that you scooped out! Seeds from winter squash can make a great snack food, and can be prepared in the same way as pumpkin seeds. Once scooped out from inside the squash and separated from the pulp, you can place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them at 160-170°F (about 75°C) in the oven for 15-20 minutes. By roasting them for a relatively short time at a low temperature you can help minimize damage to their healthy oils.
Pumpkin Soup!…. cook pumpkin just as above, remove flesh and blend with sautéed shallots and garlic, and a can of light coconut milk salt & pepper. Pour from blender into a pot, add 2 cups chicken broth… let simmer for 10 min… then just one thing to do… enjoy!
Pumpkin Yogurt!… yep!… i said it Yogurt… not a smoothie. This is protein packed and great for before or after practice. Just blend greek yogurt, pumpkin, a frozen banana, and some spices for a delicious and beautifully flavored yogurt. I love this one so much i have a recipe for you!
Family and friends of Silver State… try something new today! EAT WELL… LOTS of VARIETY… & most importantly beautiful food first!
P.S. Here is a great time saving tip… Roast more than one pumpkin (or other winter squash) and freeze the left overs, the frozen pumpkin makes great additions to soups and smoothies all week! Do you want to chat more!? Awesome! contact me at nutritionanswered.com
Shavawn M. Forester PhD RDN (aka The Nutrient Dense RDN)
Nutrition Instructor at the University of Nevada Reno
Founder of Nutrition Answered, LLC & the Eating Well Program