It’s fall, which means it’s pumpkin season. Pumpkin is certainly an appropriate choice in a healthy diet. Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, potassium, fiber and antioxidants like beta-carotene.
One cup cooked is only 49 calories, with 12 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and no fat. We see pumpkin used in many ways in the retail environment. But be forewarned, these items are often highly processed, contain added sugars and other additives, and should not be not part of a healthy diet.
Ever wonder what goes into those fall pumpkin beverages we see advertised? Unfortunately, they do not come with an ingredient list and often you will find calories only online. Not that many of us check the website before placing an order. So be aware that a pumpkin swirl frozen coffee with cream can cost you 1160 calories and 630 calories — even for a small one. Adding a pumpkin swirl to a large coffee increases the calories to 220.
The bad news is you are often not getting real pumpkin but a pumpkin flavor, along with several sources of undesirable sweetener, including sugar, high fructose corn syrup and brown sugar. Instead, try making your own pumpkin coffee beverage like the one below or try adding nutmeg and cinnamon to your morning coffee and stir pumpkin puree into a vanilla yogurt.
We’re also tempted with baked goods, but pumpkin doughnuts are 340 calories and a muffin will set you back 550 calories. But if you are not up to making your own pumpkin bread and feel that craving, split a muffin with someone or have even one slice of it. I find that if I do so, I still get the satisfaction of having a sweet pumpkin baked good. I add a boiled egg to this breakfast, because the protein keeps me from becoming hungry mid-morning.
Another way to include this healthy autumn vegetable into your diet is to cook and puree it. (Pumpkin can be easily roasted in the oven or purchase a can of 100% pumpkin.) Mix the puree with milk or broth. Use it as a soup or as a great tasting pasta sauce with sprinkled grated cheese. Roasted pumpkins seeds are also a nutritious snack.
So put more thought into your choices and enjoy pumpkin season in a healthy way!
Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, coconut milk or milk of choice
- 3 tbsp. pumpkin puree (canned pure pumpkin is an easy short cut)
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- ½ tbsp. maple syrup or sweetener of choice
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg, cloves and ginger (may use pumpkin pie spice as a substitute which is a blend of spices).
Combine all ingredients and warm gently in microwave or stovetop. Recipe contains 140 calories depending upon milk choice.
Mary Noon is a registered dietician and nutritionist at Hartford Hospital.
Want even more information and personalized advice? Make an appointment with a registered dietitian. Call us at Hartford Hospital (860.972.2604) and we can tell you how.
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