Have you ever contemplated how many delicious dishes you can make with a pumpkin? For many of us, pumpkins are associated with dense, sugary desserts like pumpkin pie, sweet pumpkin bread, or pumpkin spice lattes. Though there’s always a way to substitute traditional ingredients like white flour, refined sugar, or dairy with alternatives, there are so many healthy everyday snacks and meals that can be made with this delicious fall vegetable. Read on for three recipes to get started!

 

For your convenience, all recipes provided are gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and vegan. Not all of the recipes are raw vegan, but I included some tips (in green) to help you create your own raw vegan versions! Most of the ingredients - from nuts to seeds to grains to spices to oils to sweeteners and more - can also be found in bulk at local health food stores, like Whole Foods, Harvest House in Concord, Winco Foods in Pittsburg, or Berkeley Bowl. Please make sure to bring your own jars if you decide to go with this option! Tare them at the counter. It works - I’ve done it many times myself!

 

First, Why Pumpkins are Good for You

 

First, let’s discuss the health benefits of pumpkins so you’re totally convinced to take a whack at the recipes below. Let’s start with the most obvious reason why pumpkins are healthful: their bright orange color! Any vegetables or fruits with bright or deep coloring are super rich in nutrients. According to Joy McCarthy, CNP, RNCP, and author of “Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting” (visit her website here), orange-colored foods get their color from the carotenoid antioxidant beta-carotene. McCarthy goes on to say that studies have shown this specific color pigment can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, because it has the ability to prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. This is great for those who are struggling with skin issues - pumpkins essentially help detoxify your skin from the inside out!

Due to its high fiber content, pumpkins also make you feel full and help promote regular bowel movements (hey, this is something we must mention if we’re talking nutrition). At the same time, they also provide your body with potassium, magnesium, and Vitamins A, C, and E.

Pumpkin seeds are also very high in magnesium and Vitamin E. Magnesium is great for heart health and is also particularly essential for women - MacCarthy says in her book that most women who suffer from PMS are magnesium-deficient. After all, magnesium is said to boost your mood! Vitamin E is considered “anti-aging”, as it’s an antioxidant that acts against free radicals.

 

Lastly, pumpkin seeds pack a ton of zinc, which, along with all the other antioxidants in pumpkins, does the skin well! Also in her book, McCarthy writes that zinc “promotes cell division, cell repair and cell growth, all of which equate to skin health.”

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

 

Convinced to eat more pumpkin after reading about all the health benefits? If so, you’ll want to know how to make your own pumpkin puree for many of the wonderful recipes offered below. Pumpkin puree can be purchased in a can, but many canned goods are lined with a layer of BPA, which has been shown in many studies to leach unwanted chemicals into your food. If you absolutely can’t make your own puree, make sure to look for the labels “USDA Organic” and “BPA-Free”.

 

Pumpkin puree can technically be made raw with a high-speed blender or a food processor. Peel, deseed, and cut your pumpkin into small pieces. Add water sparingly and pulse till you achieve the desired consistency. If you don’t mind heating up your pumpkin to make puree, dontwastethecrumbs.com provies a great guide. Click here to see the full post.

 

Recipe 1: Simple Pumpkin Soup by Minimalist Baker


Please visit this link for the full recipe. We do not own this recipe. Some of the wording was changed to provide continuity for the reader, since recipes from other sites are included in this article. Various cooking and local tips also added by us (in green).

 

Serving Size: 3 - 4 people

 

Ingredients: Soup

  1. 2 sugar pumpkins (about ¼ cups pumpkin puree)

  2. 2 shallots, diced

  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced

  4. 2 cups veggie stock (SCOCO Tip: Make raw vegetable stock with this guide.)

  5. 1 cup light coconut milk (substitute with other non-dairy milk for varied results)

  6. 2 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar (SCOCO Tip: You can get blue agave nectar in bulk at the Lafayette Whole Foods! It’s tucked near the back of the store behind the produce and bulk section on an endcap along with bulk EVOO, honey, and nut butters. Ask for help if you can’t find it. Make sure to bring your own glass jar and get the tare at the customer service desk beforehand.)

  7. ¼ tsp sea salt

  8. ¼ tsp black pepper

  9. ¼ tsp cinnamon

  10. ¼ tsp nutmeg

 

Ingredients: Garlic Kale Sesame Topping

  1. 1 cup roughly chopped kale

  2. 1 large clove garlic, minced

  3. 2 tbsp raw sesame seeds

  4. 1 tbsp olive oil

  5. Pinch salt

 

Instructions

SCOCO Tip: To make this recipe raw, simply blend up the ingredients to make a gazpacho.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Using a sharp knife, cut off the tops of two sugar pumpkins and then halve them. Use a sharp spoon to scrape out all of the seeds and strings (see notes - on website via link above - for a link to roasting seeds).

  3. Brush the flesh with oil and place face down on the baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the skin. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then peel away skin and set pumpkin aside.

  4. To a large saucepan over medium heat add 1 Tbsp olive oil, shallot and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly browned and translucent. Turn down heat if cooking too quickly.

  5. Add remaining ingredients, including the pumpkin, and bring to a simmer.

  6. Transfer soup mixture to a blender or use an emulsion blender to puree the soup. If using a blender, place a towel over the top of the lid before mixing to avoid any accidents. Pour mixture back into pot.

  7. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes and taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve as is or with Kale-Sesame topping.

  8. For the Kale-Sesame topping: In a small skillet over medium heat, dry toast sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until slightly golden brown. Be careful as they can burn quickly. Remove from pan and set aside.

  9. To the still hot pan, add olive oil and garlic and sauté until golden brown - about 2 minutes. Add kale and toss, then add a pinch of salt and cover to steam. Cook for another few minutes until kale is wilted and then add sesame seeds back in. Toss to coat and set aside for topping soup.

  10. Recipe serves 3-4. Leftovers keep in the fridge for up to a few days, and in the freezer for up to a month or more.

 

Recipe 2: Pumpkin Spice Banana Latte Smoothie by FullyRawKristina

 

Please visit this link for the full recipe. Recipe starts at 2:15 and ends at 4:00. We do not own this recipe. Some of the wording was changed to provide continuity for the reader, since recipes from other sites are included in this article. Various cooking and local tips also added by us (in green).

 

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Serving Size: 2 - 3 8 oz. cups

 

Ingredients

  1. 2 - 3 ripe, speckled bananas

  2. 2 - 3 frozen bananas

  3. ½ cup freshly cut pie pumpkin

  4. ½ - 1 cup raw coconut water (or filtered water)

  5. ½ cup raw carob powder or raw cacao powder (SCOCO Tip: Both can be found in bulk at the Harvest House in Concord. Bring your own jar and get the tare at the register. Also, make sure to get cacao powder instead of cocoa powder, because cocoa is usually processed and therefore devoid of many of its original nutrients.)

  6. Freshly ground cinnamon to taste

  7. Blend of pumpkin spices (mixture of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and/or nutmeg)

 

Instructions

  1. Freeze 2 - 3 bananas for several hours. (SCOCO Tip: Don’t waste a plastic bag on this! Freeze them in a reusable container. I have done this successfully many times. Break them up before putting them in the container so they are easier to blend later.)

  2. Cut your pumpkin open and deseed it. Then, cut the skin off and chop the pumpkin into bite-sized pieces. (SCOCO Tip: Use the peels in a stir fry or raw fruit/veggie salad! The skin of any fruit or vegetable contains an abundance of nutrients. Just make sure to get organic if you plan to eat the skin.)

  3. Add your ingredients into the blender and pulse till the chunks break up. Then, blend till the texture is visibly smooth.

 

Recipe 3: Crunchy Pumpkin Spice Granola by Sally’s Baking Addiction


Please visit this link for the full recipe. We do not own this recipe. Some of the wording was changed to provide continuity for the reader, since recipes from other sites are included in this article. Various cooking and local tips also added by us (in green).

 

Serving Size: 5 cups

 

Ingredients

  1. 3 cups rolled oats (gluten-free if needed) (SCOCO Tip: Gluten-free oats are available in bulk at the Harvest House. Make sure to check your labels. If you're not sure about the oats, go with buckwheat groats or quinoa. Both can be found in bulk at many local health food stores. Yes, quinoa can be eaten uncooked. Make sure to soak and rinse both the buckwheat and quinoa to cleanse them of saponins, making them easier to digest. If you want an extra digestive punch, sprout them! Sprouting seeds and legumes always makes them more digestible (i.e., less gas) and provides your body with amino acids essential for the creation of protein.)

  2. ¾ cup shredded coconut (SCOCO Tips: You can get coconut flakes in bulk at the Harvest House in Concord.)

  3. 1 cup pecan halves

  4. 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (or to taste)

  5. ¼ tsp. salt

  6. ½ cup pumpkin puree

  7. ¼ cup maple syrup

  8. ¼ cup coconut sugar (SCOCO Tip: The original recipe lists brown sugar. It was tough to find one that didn’t include this ingredient. If you want to include sugar in your recipe - which is completely optional, by the way - please consider using coconut sugar instead of refined sugar. Refined sugar is essentially of no value to your body and is addictive in the long run. This granola will taste just as good without it. Coconut sugar is the dried, ground sap of the coconut tree. It is delicious. You can find coconut sugar in bulk at the Harvest House and some Whole Foods stores in Contra Costa.)

  9. ⅓ cup coconut oil (SCOCO Tip: The original recipe lists vegetable oil. The reason I subbed with coconut oil is because any nutrients in different vegetable oils are often killed off when heated. According to nutritionist expert McCarthy (mentioned earlier), the oil then turns rancid and is damaging to your body at a cellular level. Coconut oil is higher in saturated fat than other oils, so it still maintains some of its nutrients when heated. You definitely want that caprylic acid, too! It’s anti-fungal and therefore promotes a healthy gut. Make sure to get non-hydrogenated coconut oil to reap its benefits; Nutiva is a great brand and can be found in bulk at Costco or any health food store. If you decide to go with olive oil, make sure to get organic EVOO, as the toxins in pesticides are fat soluble. Always purchase organic oils for this reason!)

 

Instructions

SCOCO Tip: To make this recipe raw, place your mixed granola (follow only steps 2 thru 4 below) onto your dehydrator sheets. I suggest drying them at 115° F for about 10 to 12 hours. That way, they will still be raw, as heating over about 118° F may kill off important enzymes and nutrients.

  1. Preheat oven to 300° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

  2. Stir oats, coconut, pecans, pumpkin pie spice and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Place pumpkin puree, maple syrup and brown sugar into a small saucepan and stir a few times to blend. Place over medium heat and cook just until brown sugar is melted, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in oil.

  4. Pour pumpkin mixture over oat mixture and stir well, until fully blended.

  5. Distribute mixture onto baking sheets in even layers. Bake until lightly browned around the edges, about 35 minutes.

  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store in airtight container for up to a week.

 

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Try out these recipes and let us know what you think. Share your own below - there are so many delicious and nutritious ways to eat pumpkins!

 

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