Got a pumpkin out on your porch this fall? Try it on your plate instead. Everyone’s favorite squash has incredible health benefits, like boosting your immune system, preventing lung and prostate cancer, and even fighting wrinkles. Read on for some simple – and delicious – ways to get your pumpkin fix. And that pumpkin on your porch? Use it in this fun workout.
1. Toast the seeds
Toasting pumpkin seeds is as easy as pie. Just remove the pulp and strings and rinse. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt and bake at 325° F for about 30 minutes, or until lightly toasted. If you want to do something a bit more creative, use the seeds in homemade granola or mash the seeds into a crust for tuna tostadas. Pumpkin seeds don’t just taste good; they’re loaded with all sorts of benefits. Watch this video with registered dietician Frances Largeman-Roth to learn more.
2. Throw a crust under it
Think pumpkin pie isn’t healthy? Try this recipe, which uses silken tofu to cut the saturated fat and features a whole-wheat crust. Bonus: One study found that the scent of pumpkin pie acts as an aphrodisiac for men. Don’t forget, the best pumpkin for cooking is a “sugar pie pumpkin” or “sweet pumpkin” according to the American Diabetes Association. Their flesh is sweeter and less watery than that of larger pumpkins. Want all the flavors of pumpkin pie without the carbs? Cook up this pumpkin spice custard.
3. Include pumpkin in your morning meal
Add two tablespoons of 100% pure pumpkin to your morning bowl of oatmeal and you’ll be well on your way to staying healthy this winter. Most of us can’t bother with scraping and chopping fresh pumpkin, but here’s the good news: Canned pumpkin has more fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, iron and folate than fresh. It’s great in smoothies, too.
5. Wear it
Pumpkin is rich in key nutrients that help keep your skin healthy and wrinkle free. So why not use it in a homemade face wash? Mix one can of mashed pumpkin and one tablespoon of flax seed oil together. Apply in gentle circular strokes on your face and neck. Rinse off with warm water and moisturize.