Not only does the creamy puree that comes from autumn’s signature squash make lovely pies, but it also has many powerful health benefits that will keep you consuming even after the holiday season.
Pumpkins are packed with vitamin A. In fact, one cup of cooked pumpkin puree contains more than 200 percent of the daily recommended intake and vitamin A is vital for healthy eyes. It helps the eyes distinguish between light and dark, thus improving night vision. Vitamin A also helps fight against cataracts.
As long as you keep your pie count in check, pumpkin is a great aid in weight loss. With three grams of fiber and only 49 calories per cup, pumpkin has the power to keep you feeling full for a long time without adding unhealthy calories to your daily count.
Though small, the pumpkin seed has large health benefits, as well. Not only are these seeds an excellent source of fiber, they are also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in heart health. These essential fatty acids help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which allows easy blood flow and takes stress off of the heart.
Pumpkin also has the power to reduce cancer risk because it is so rich in antioxidants. Free radicals are unstable molecules found in our bodies and the damage they do to our cells may lead to cancer. Antioxidants stabilize free radicals preventing damage otherwise done to cells. Fruits and vegetables that are bright in color are full of antioxidants, so this vibrant vegetable is a perfect cancer-fighting source.
So the next time you’re roasting pumpkin seeds or feasting on your favorite recipe of pumpkin pie, remember you are giving your body more than just a tasty treat — you are improving your health. Keep eating pumpkin and before you know it, your vision will improve, your heart and cells will be stronger and you might even lose weight in the process.
Cranberry Pumpkin Drop Cookies
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, softened
- 1 cup organic honey
- 1 egg
- 1 cup freshly cooked pumpkin, pureed
- 1 vanilla pod, seeded
- 1 cup cranberries
Soak the cranberries in very hot water until plump. Drain and set aside.
Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, beat butter or coconut oil, then add honey and beat until well-blended. Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla seeds and beat until well blended.
Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture and beat until well blended, then stir in cranberries (dough will be soft). Drop teaspoon size balls onto parchment lined baking sheets, bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until done.
Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!
Melissa Lindsey is a senior at Utah Valley University studying communication with an emphasis in journalism. Contact her at [email protected]