Pumpkin is everywhere… you can’t avoid it right now. If you don’t believe me try walking through a Trader Joe’s… it’s like a pumpkin circus. Pumpkin cookies, pancake mix, pasta sauce, ravioli, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice… even pumpkin-spiced pumpkin seeds! What?!
By pumpkin of course we mean “hard-skinned winter squash” since most of what we eat are actually squashes but pumpkin is definitely more fun to say. And if you aren’t sure which you should be choosing for your favorite recipes, follow the recommendations of Melissa Clark of The New York Times… she did the research so you don’t have to! I personally love sugar pumpkins but I also mostly use butternut squash as my CSA is usually quite generous with them. Read: “Oh my god…we have more butternut squashes than family members!”
So is pumpkin all its smashed up to be? Nyuck, nyuck. Well… yes AND pumpkin can nourish us both through its fleshy part and its seeds. I love pumpkin seeds because they offer so many stress-friendly properties. Pumpkin seeds are full of magnesium which helps relax our muscles, keep our brain and nervous system healthy and manage energy production. Stress often depletes our body’s supply of magnesium and replenishing it can help lift our mood and restore our stress response system. A handful of raw pumpkin seeds make a wonderful afternoon snack alone or sprinkled on yogurt or hummus.
The fleshy part of the pumpkin contains amazing anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties but what really sets it apart from our other veggie friends is its amazing blood sugar regulation abilities. A body under stress is constantly pumping glucose into the blood to create the energy to respond to stressors be they saber-toothed tigers in prehistoric times or just racing to get to that important meeting today. Too much stress can disrupt our body’s natural ability to regulate blood sugar and pumpkin is one food that can help support this process. Pumpkin also contains high levels of B-vitamins that also help regulate blood sugar and manage our stress response.
So instead of taking a chill pill… maybe we should just go enjoy some pumpkin. Here is an easy and delicious way to start your day off with this stress-friendly Cucurbita!
PS – If you follow me on Instagram (@tableminded), then you saw a sneak peak of this one a few days ago but I made a few tweaks to the recipe
Pumpkin Ginger Smoothie
- ½ cup pumpkin (pureed or canned, definitely organic)
- ½ banana
- Handful of ice
- ½ cup full-fat coconut milk (like this one)
- 1 scoop unflavored protein powder (like this one or for vegan, this one)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon raw pumpkin seeds
- Sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg
Blend all ingredients and serve. Makes two small smoothies or one big one (if you have a 15-year old boy in your home…you know what I’m talking about).