8 Incredible Benefits Of Pumpkin + 3 Delicious Recipes
8 Incredible Benefits Of Pumpkin + 3 Delicious Recipes
By Sara Wylie
There’s been a lot going around about alternatives for Halloween candy and treats… but honestly, what’s been on my mind recently has been finding some fun salad recipes that involve pumpkin!
Salads in general are wonderfully nutritious, but if you throw some pumpkin in there? BOOM! That’s a whole PUNCH of healthy goodness right there!
Here are some of the health benefits that pumpkins have in store for you:
1. Great For Eyesight – According to the National Institute of Health, pumpkins contain 200% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. This is good for your vision.
2. Help With Weight Loss – It’s often overlooked, but pumpkins are a great source of fiber. Fiber helps keep you full for longer, therefore preventing you from eating too much or snacking when you don’t really need to.
3. Good For Your Heart – Pumpkin seeds, like most seeds, are abundant in phytosterols, which are plant-based chemicals that have shown to help lower LDL cholesterol.
4. Can Reduce Cancer Risk – According to the National Cancer Institute, the antioxidant beta-carotene in pumpkin can potentially help with preventing cancer.
5. Protection For Your Skin – Pumpkins contain carotenoids, which can help protect your skin and keep it from wrinkling or sagging too early.
6. Boost Your Mood – Another great thing about pumpkin seeds is that they contain tryptophan, which is important in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is one of the hormones responsible for balancing your mood and keeping it elevated.
7. Post Workout Energizer – Pumpkin is also a great source of potassium. Eating potassium after a workout helps regenerate the electrolytes in your body and keep your muscles in top-notch shape.
8. Strengthen Immune System – Vitamin C has been known to be an essential nutrient for the health and functionality of your immune system and pumpkins are an awesome source of it. One cup of pumpkin is enough to fulfill nearly 20% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C (women = 60 mg, men = 75 mg).
Who would have thought that the big orange vegetables you carve up and use as decoration for Halloween held so much health potential? Well, along with your awesome pumpkin carving skills, get your salad-tossing skills warmed up and try out these 3 pumpkin salad recipes! They are easy to make and even contain some warmth to help out on those cold Fall days.
Let us know what you think in the comments below (and feel free to include pictures, too)!
#1: Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil And Goat Cheese Salad
Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil And Goat Cheese Salad
- ¾ cup French green lentils
- 6 cups 1-inch pieces peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (from about one 2-pound whole pumpkin)
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup thinly sliced mint leaves
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Place lentils in small bowl. Cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes; drain.
- Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Drain lentils. Rinse under cold water, then drain.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Place pumpkin in large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika and sea salt. Arrange pumpkin in single layer on baking sheet; roast 20 minutes. Turn pumpkin over. Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.
- Combine lentils, pumpkin and oil from baking sheet with arugula, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among plates; sprinkle remaining goat cheese over.
#2: Forbidden Rice Pumpkin Salad (With Blood Orange Vinaigrette)
Credit: Love & Lemons
Forbidden Rice Pumpkin Salad (With Blood Orange Vinaigrette)
- 1 cup cooked black forbidden rice
- 2 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash
- 2 cups baby salad greens
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- ¼ cup toasted pepitas
- [b]Blood Orange Vinaigrette[/b]
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Juice of ½ a blood orange
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp coriander
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Toss cubed pumpkin/squash with a bit of olive oil, salt & pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until golden brown around the edges (25-30 mins depending on your squash).
- Make your vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, blood orange juice, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Toss cooked rice with roasted pumpkin cubes, salad greens, dressing (as much or little as you like), pomegranate seeds, feta and pepitas. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve.
Cook rice: ½ cup rice to 1 cup water (I use a rice cooker on the brown rice setting). Add more water if it evaporates and the rice is not yet soft.
I buy my black rice in the bulk section of my Whole Foods or Wheatsville Coop. If you can't find black rice, sub in quinoa (you can even get black quinoa if you're going for color).
Regular oranges can be substituted for blood oranges.
#3: Roasted Pumpkin And Green Bean Quinoa Salad (In Thai Peanut Dressing)
Credit: Closet Cooking
3 Pumpkin Salad Recipes For This Halloween Season
- 2 cups pumpkin, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 tbsp oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 ¾ cups water or 1 (14 ounce can) coconut milk
- ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 green onions, sliced
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup peanut sauce
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- Thai Peanut Sauce
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 1 tbsp red curry paste
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp palm sugar (or desired substitute)
- 1 tbsp chili sauce such as sriracha (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp peanuts roasted and chopped
- Toss with the pumpkin in the oil and salt and pepper, place in a single layer on a baking pan and roast in a preheated 400F/200C oven until tender, about 20 minutes, mixing midway through.
- Meanwhile, bring the quinoa and water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes, before removing from heat and letting sit covered for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, blanch the green beans in boiling water until they just turn a dark green and plunge them into cold water.
- Toss everything into the mixture of the peanut sauce and the coconut milk and enjoy!
- For Thai Peanut Sauce:
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, add the curry and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
Add everything else and simmer to thicken it a bit, about 2-3 minutes.
Drizzle over salad.
Sara Wylie resides in Utah where she is currently working as an Editorial Intern for Fitlife.tv while also pursuing a career in writing. She hopes that through her words and fiery passion, she will be able to not only inspire others to seek out and nourish their own passions, but to also help others feel what it’s like to truly be alive.
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