Hands up who has carving faces into pumpkins on the ‘to-do’ list this week? Us too!

My kids have a great time with Daddy (it’s a yearly ritual) designing, drawing, cutting and scraping away while I attempt to control the mess. And I make sure they don’t throw away any of the insides – I have a field day with all the goodness you can get from one large pumpkin!

Time to invest in that chest freezer after all perhaps!

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Pumpkins are so versatile yet we rarely use them in England other than for aforementioned Halloween carving. I believe more than 90% of pumpkins in the UK are grown for and purchased over halloween! But we really should take an Autumn leaf from our American cousins and start making use of them other than to boost the compost heap.

Here are some of the health benefits you get with a pumpkin

1. They are low calorie – typically under 40 calories per 100g of pureed pumpkin.

2. Rich in fibre, pumpkin is filling and aids digestion.

3. Full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including A, C and E, carotenoids and lutein, making it great for skin and eye health, protect against UV damage, and can protect against some cancers.

4. Heart healthy – no saturated fats or cholesterol and helps lower blood cholesterol

5. B-group vitamins including Folate, Niacin, Thiamin, vitamin B6 and Pantothenic acid help convert food into energy.

6. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of fibre and monounsaturated fats as well as iron and zinc.

7. The seeds also contain the amino acid tryptophan which converts into GABA, relaxing you and aiding sleep.

So what do you do with the leftover pumpkin?

There is bound to be an abundance of leftover pumpkins in shops going cheap as soon as Halloween is over. Alternatively you can buy tins of Libby’s Pumpkin Puree in major supermarkets or online.

protein pumpkin recipes_2

Pumpkin is a fairly bland vegetable by itself but add warming winter spices such as ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and chilli and you have a golden Autumn gem in your hands.

Pumpkin flesh is 88% carbohydrate and provides only around 30 calories per 100g of fresh pumpkin. It adds moisture and a unique taste to all sorts of recipes whatever your macro requirements or dietary choices.

So the best thing we can do is look at ways of building pumpkin and all its benefits into our diet. There is of course one classic, something we’ve heard of (particularly is we’ve ever watched any American TV or movies), even if we’ve never eaten it…Pumpkin Pie!

Here’s how to make you and your family a delicious pumpkin pie this Halloween

MAKES 4 INDIVIDUAL largish OR 1 SERVING 4-6

Nice with stewed berries and spiced whipped coconut cream

CRUST INGREDIENTS
120g almond flour
2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt

FILLING INGREDIENTS
240g pumpkin puree
250ml coconut milk
2 eggs

60ml maple syrup
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Little pinch each of nutmeg and ginger

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 180˚c.
Mix all the crust ingredients together and press into one large ovenproof dish, or 4-6 individual flan dishes.
Bake for 10 minutes or until turning golden.
Whisk all the filling ingredients together then pour into the baked pie crust.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is set.
Serve warm or cold.

Protein Pumpkin Recipes_3

Protein Pumpkin Recipes_3

Here are four great high protein recipes made with pumpkin puree

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

Blend 100g pumpkin puree with one scoop of vanilla protein powder, 200ml milk and ¼ tsp. each of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, plus a little stevia to taste. Or switch the milk for 100g Greek yoghurt and mix the ingredients in a bowl for a spiced pumpkin smoothie bowl!

Pumpkin Pancakes

For one hungry person mix together 25g coconut flour or vanilla whey protein, 75g pumpkin puree, 3 eggs, 3 tbsp. milk, ½ tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. nutmeg and stevia to taste. Fry in a little coconut or other cooking oil in batches on a low heat.

Mini Crustless Pumpkin Pies

Grease two ramekins. Whisk together 1 egg, 55g pumpkin puree, 2 tsp maple syrup (or stevia for lower carb), 1 tsp vanilla extract, 50ml coconut milk, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch each of ground cloves, nutmeg and salt. Bake at 170˚c for 30 minutes or until firm to touch.

Pumpkin and Feta Dip

Blend 325g pumpkin puree, 150 feta cheese, 100g Greek yoghurt, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. each dill and parsley, ½ tsp. paprika and a splash of cider vinegar. Serve with crudité or stir through courgette spaghetti for a low carb meal that serves 2-3.

So this year save the flesh from your Halloween creation and have a go at one of these tasty ideas, or see if you can come up with some pumpkin party food ideas if you’re celebrating with friends.

It’s certainly healthier than buckets of free sweets!

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