A pumpkin a day keeps the doctor away

It's not possible to celebrate Autumn without our favorite round gourds.  Their reputation in the functional food category is as good as it gets. When we're talking holiday treats pumpkin takes the cake, or shall I say the pie. So before I get into all the deliciousness of this super squash may I speak for a moment as your musing nutritionist? You'll appreciate your pumpkin all the more, promise. 

 We are always battling the elements, trying to keep our Mother Earth clean and pure, free of radicals and unsavory demons. We do our best to avoid disease-causing villains,  and part of protecting our body means mindful eating.  If we are conquering balancing our nutrition, we will never be in jeopardy of leaving ourselves at risk of taking on excess toxins.

So try to wrap your mind around this: We don't live in a plastic bubble, we breathe air, swim in bodies of water, make contact with other living souls, exposing us to potential sickness. What's our solution, to germs and poison? We clean, and obsess over what we are touching and who is breathing on us, so we wear surgical masks out in public places with lots of strangers. Or we spray room deodorizer where someone has sneezed.  Sometimes we slather on the hand sanitizer to ward off the juju, and then we grab a burger from a fast food restaurant not even batting an eye. Whoa, back up, you did what?? Could you think about it for just a second? What the heck? Your putting garbage in your body, inside, like where our heart beats, lungs breathe, and where cells live to grow and regenerate. So why are you wiping down the shopping cart before you buy some processed foods? It's mind-blowing, and I needed to put it in perspective for you so we can get down to business. Happy business, because I'm not trying to be a buzzkill, it's the holidays after all.  I'm a tell-it-like-it-is girl. I like sugar, but I won't sugar-coat, so if you want to live in denial pretending that you care about your body because you cleanse the outside than your residing in the land of the lost. 

It's a bit of supply and demand. Our body demands to be loved and worshiped as it carries us throughout our day, through the good, the bad, the uncomfortable, and we, in turn, supply it with the kindness it deserves. So how do we avoid trips to the doctor? We eat more functional foods, rich in antioxidants that will give us a fighting chance to combat oxidative stress. So yes, an apple a day may keep the doctor away, and a pumpkin a day could put him out of business. Squash are one of the most efficient free radical killers and Fall just happens to be their time to shine! The skin, seeds, and flesh all have generous amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and yes, they are fun to carve and celebrate Halloween.

Pumpkin Stats: 

-One cup of pumpkin supplies you with over 100% of DV vitamin A, giving your vision, skin, and antioxidant dose a more than decent leg up.

-Low cal. Nutrient dense loaded with fiber. Don't you dare skip the pumpkin pie, you'd be a fool!

- Pumpkin seeds provide you with mega amounts of protein. Also, fun calming effects eating these seeds because they contain    tryptophan

-Antioxidants! Molecules that help fight the damaging oxidation of our cells. Eat more fruits and veggies!

-Reduces your LDL (this is the bad cholesterol friends, keep eating squash). Promotes a healthy heart. 

-Fantastic after a hard workout to help re-balance and replenish potassium lost during your sweat fest. 

Speaking of recovery, try out one of my signature smoothies on the BLOG (BY) here where I contribute to their Move and debuting October 23rd. in the Taste section. It's also posted on The Food Athlete Let's Cook Together page along with this fun DIY'd Pumpkin Body Scrub that truly makes this fruit a functional food for the inside and out. Check out both recipes here.

                                        Squash Soup

How about a warm bowl of soup on a chilly day in Autumn? The unique celebration of each season with food and holidays makes me happy all over.  With Fall comes an array of vegetables that look beautiful displayed around your home and can be transformed into culinary feasts.

This soup is one I've been making for years. It's unbelievably simple to make. And if you throw in additional veggies or pour over wild rice and add some protein you cold have a pretty hearty meal. I also switch it up and try new spices and variations to keep my taste buds happy.

For the soup:

2 C. Chopped Pumpkin or any squash with orange flesh. Butternut, Acorn, Kabocha.

Veggie Broth (Low Sodium, or homemade)

Nutmeg

Grape Seed Oil (drizzle over squash to bake, not much maybe2 Tsp)

3 Tsp. Diced Shallots

Fresh Sage

Salt and Pepper to taste

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Fried Sage (garnish, and it's delicious)

In a 350 Oven Bake squash in a cooking dish, with the shallots, pepper and a few sprigs of sage. Sage is powerful, so you may want to start small if you haven't worked with this before. Best to go conservative and then add as you desire. 

So that's easy, right? Bake until fork tender and put in a blender. Nutri Bullet works for me. Add Veggie Broth as needed to get the consistency you want. I've also tried this with coconut milk; it gives it more sweetness and apparently richer in texture. Depends on what you're in the mood for. Add salt as you like. Top with pumpkin seeds, fried sage and a sprinkle of nutmeg!  Perfect in a mug sitting by the fire. So good for you too, perhaps the new chicken soup? We'll see. 

 

Between this post and the one over at my friend's at Beyond Yoga, I think you should be well equipped to go pumpkin hunting. Fall is just starting to get cozy; there's a chill in the air that makes me want to throw on a warm sweater, curl up with my puppy and make comforting food. The most incredible news that I can tell you is that comfort meals can be healthy. And healthy nutrition can one thousand percent be tasty!! So, no excuses, now that you have all the basics the why's you need to get some of this outstanding superfood why are you waiting? Have some pumpkin fun! Carve 'em up, get your hands dirty, toast the seeds, sprinkle them with coconut sugar and cinnamon, get creative. Live your life! I'm going to be sharing some of my favorite sweet and savory recipes in the upcoming weeks. Soups, baked yummy's, maybe even a Halloween treat, or trick? Happy Autumn Food Athletes, see you at the Pumpkin Patch!

Be Happy, Be Healthy, Love Your Body,

xo Jessi (your Food Athlete) xo