I am absolutely THRIVING in this fall weather we are having right now in New England! I never used to be such a big fan of fall but lately I have grown to love the cooler weather, bundling up a little more and cozy comforting foods of fall. There's just something so bitter sweet about fall time! It doesn't last that long but when it's here, its HERE full force! Starting in mid to late September, everyone in New England will start to break out their fall decorations like the pumpkins, apples, foliage decorations and scarecrows. I absolutely love it meanwhile, a lot of people get annoyed by the fall hype of pumpkin flavored everything and cozy vests with boots. We don't have time for the fall haters! Bring on the pumpkin flavored everything and cozy vests with boots!
I've been dying to make my first fall dish and I was trying to think about what I wanted it to be. I wanted to incorporate pumpkin pure and I wanted it to be delectable. So, I thought, why not just combine pumpkin with my favorite food ever; chocolate! I decided to make some home made pumpkin fudge brownies and wow they did not disappoint! I had to test a few batches at first to get the consistency just right but its well worth the trial and error!
Pumpkin isn't just for the cute decorations around the house and the pumpkin spice flavoring, it's also a great nutrient dense food that should be incorporate more often than just in the fall time! Also, the more I think about it, I think people are more obsessed with the spice part of pumpkin spice because who actually tastes some real pumpkin flavor in their pumpkin spice coffee? Try actually eating some real pumpkin and see if you like it or not because believe it or not, the real deal pumpkin doesn't actually taste like pumpkin spice!! I personally love the taste, texture and amazing color of pumpkin. I will only buy the organic pumpkin puree to make sure I get only clean ingredients and then I use that to mix it with my own blend of spices or cacao powder.
A quick rule of thumb for knowing if vegetables are nutrient dense (high in nutrients like vitamins and minerals) is the color of the vegetable. If the vegetable is a bold and vibrant color, like the orange color given off by pumpkin, it is nutrient dense. If a vegetable is pale, white or colorless like white potatoes, cucumbers and summer squash, it isn't AS nutrient dense as the more bold colored vegetables. So, as you can tell, pumpkins are considered a nutrient dense food and are loaded with vitamins and minerals that really nourish our body by packing a large punch of vitamins and minerals into each serving. Some of the biggest benefits of eating pumpkin are listed below.
Pumpkin is a very good source of vitamin A with one cup of pumpkin puree providing almost 250% of the recommended daily value! Vitamin A can come in several forms. It can be converted form the pigment called beta-carotene in deep orange and red foods. Beta carotene isn't actually vitamin A, but it is converted into an active form of vitamin A by our liver called retinal which our body can readily absorb. Vitamin A is so important for our immune system and our eye health. A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to dry eyes and frequent infections. If you think you have a weak immune system, try incorporating some pumpkin into your diet at least once a week! The RDA for vitamin A is 900-700 micrograms per day.
Potassium Pumpkin is also a great source of potassium and even has more potassium content than a banana! It is almost common knowledge that most people know bananas are good sources of potassium, but there is a whole larger world of foods that have even more potassium than bananas, like avocados as well! Potassium is so vital to many functions within the body and we need it each and every day for our cells to cary out daily functions. It is an electrolyte that helps to bring water into our cells and keep us hydrated. It also helps out heart to actively pump blood every second of every day! Potassium is a large player in our muscles and helps muscles to function properly and one of the most important muscles in our body is our heart so make sure you are getting enough potassium in! You want to aim for 1600-2000mg per day.
Pumpkin contains large amounts of beta carotene which is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help to prevent the body from free radicals which cause cell mutations and lead to cancer. Increased consumption of foods that contain antioxidants helps to prevent diseases such as cancer by lowering the amount of free radical cells that can harm our body. The specific antioxidant in pumpkin also acts a natural sunblock and can enhance your skins defense against harmful UV rays! Granted the sun isn't as predominant in the fall, we still can get skin damage from UV rays that go through the clouds. If you are prone to sunburns, try eating more pumpkin or dark orange foods at least one to two times per week!
Okay, so let's finally get to the deets on this recipe. It's a good one so make sure you keep this on hand! It's super quick and easy to make too so you won't have to spend too much time in the kitchen. I made this before I went on my morning run today before work and had time to spare!
1 can organic pumpkin puree
4 tbsp cacao powder
4 scoops Nuzest Smooth Vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit
Cut the avocado and remove from skin
Add pumpkin, cacao, Nuzest, almond milk & avocado and blend until smooth and creamy
Place in a 9x9 baking dish
Bake at 350 for 1 hour
Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes
Cut into squares and enjoy!
If you make this recipe, take a picture of it and tag @inspirednutritionandhealth on instagram so I can see your beautiful creation or comment blow and let me know what you think!
Happy fall ya'll! Let the pumpkin games begin!