The holidays would not be complete without the traditional flavor of the pumpkin. And although there are a lot of traditions cancer patients have to sacrifice, especially this year, pumpkin flavor is not one of them!
While most people think of pumpkin in the form of pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice lattes, there are many healthy ways to reap the benefits of pumpkin. In addition to being packed with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, one cup of raw pumpkin boasts only 50 calories and 7 grams of fiber. Here are five reasons to add more pumpkin to your diet this holiday season:
- Immunity booster. The orange color of a pumpkin comes from a nutrient called beta-carotene which turns into vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A plays a role in eye health and bone strength. Pumpkin is also a source of vitamin C. Together, vitamins A and C work as antioxidants, fighting off cell damage and boosting immunity.
- Nutrient-packed. Looking for an easy way to get in all of those daily recommended vitamins and minerals? Eat some pumpkin! It contains B vitamins, such as folate, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid, as well as copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus!
- Full of fiber. One cup of canned pumpkin contains 7 grams of fiber. Fiber is beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels, promoting bowel health, and stabilizing blood sugars. It also keeps us feeling fuller for longer.
- Heart healthy. Pumpkin is low in sodium and fat and high in potassium – a great combination for controlling blood pressure!
- Convenient, inexpensive, and healthy cooking substitute. Canned pumpkin is available all year long. You can use it in your baked goods in the place of oil or eggs! Just be sure to look for 100% pumpkin puree canned without added sodium or sugar.
Here are a few ways of those healthy recipes you can enjoy this holiday season:
Pumpkin White Bean Hummus
1 15-ounce can white beans rinsed and drained
2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons tahini
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Puree the first 10 ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Heat oil in small skillet, add garlic and sage, sauté to brown slightly then add both to food processor and pulse to combine. Serve with assorted veggies or pita.
Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 scoops (60g) vanilla protein powder
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons mini dark chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, protein powder, and spices.
Stir in the pumpkin puree and maple syrup.
Fold in the chocolate.
Using a tablespoon portion and roll 24 energy bites.
Curried Pumpkin Soup
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups vegetable broth
½ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons plain plant based yogurt
In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add curry powder stirring constantly until toasted and fragrant, about 30-45 seconds. Add vegetable broth and pumpkin to the pan and bring to simmer. Add coconut milk and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. After plating, swirl in yogurt and garnish with several sprigs of fresh cilantro.
Cancer and Nutrition
For many patients, the effects of cancer and cancer treatments make it hard to eat well. Cancer and cancer treatments may affect taste, smell, appetite and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients from food. Woman’s Cancer Survivorship program offers special nutrition classes to help ensure cancer patients get the nutrients they need.