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10 Tips to Sneak Pumpkin into Your Diet

Allie Dhuyvetter, R.D., L.R.D., Program Assistant, NDSU Extension Service

Although pumpkins are generally used for Jack O’ Lantern making in October and yummy pumpkin pie around Thanksgiving time, pumpkins offer many things. Historically, pumpkin was one of the main staples in the Native American diet along with corn and beans. Unfortunately, the nutrition benefits of pumpkin often are taken advantage of only around this time of year.

Pumpkin provides more than 200 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A in just 100 grams (approximately ½ cup). Vitamin A is important for the health of skin and mucosa cells. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. These compounds are converted to vitamin A in the body and are important for eye health. Pumpkin also is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and manganese.

Pumpkin seeds, which are found in the hollow center of the pumpkin, are a great source of protein, minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Save your pumpkin seeds for a tasty, roasted snack!

Try these tips for incorporating more pumpkin into your diet:

  • Try canned pumpkin in place of part of the fat (butter or oil) in recipes such as banana bread.
  • Replacing part of the fat in brownie or muffin recipes with canned pumpkin.
  • Experiment with a blended pumpkin soup.
  • Serve savory or sweet pumpkin hummus as a great appetizer or snack.
  • Make a pumpkin-based sauce to serve over pasta.
  • For fun fall flavor, mix pureed pumpkin into your next batch of chili.
  • Try a different twist on the traditional quesadilla by mixing in diced pumpkin.
  • Create a pumpkin parfait by using canned pumpkin, vanilla yogurt, a drizzle of honey, and walnuts or chocolate chips.
  • Blend pumpkin into mashed potatoes for added fiber and nutrients.
  • Mix up your Saturday morning breakfast routine by making pumpkin pancakes or waffles.
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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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