Pump(kin) up your health

12:41 PM, Feb 23, 2009   |    comments
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Fitness expert Chris Freytag is obsessed with Pumpkin! Not carving them but eating them. Freytag said she loves canned pumpkin and uses it in all sorts of things. Canned pumpkin is fabulously nutritious with only around 40 calories per half cup, very low carb and virtually no fat. It also packs a good fiber punch with over 3g of fiber per cup. Not to mention one cup of pumpkin provides approximately over 150% of your daily needed Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which studies have indicated may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and protect against heart disease. Here are some of her favorite ways to use canned pumpkin:

  • Pumpkin Pie Smoothies: I usually combine a few large spoonfuls of canned pumpkin, vanilla yogurt, a little vanilla protein powder, a few ice cubes, fat free milk and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg for a great pumpkin pie smoothie. A delicious low carb treat!

  • Morning Oatmeal:
    Add a scoop of pumpkin to hot oatmeal. Top with some walnuts and raisins and cinnamon sugar you've got a great breakfast.

  • Pumpkin Pancakes:
    1 cup of whole grain flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1 tablespoon agave nectar
    1 1/2 cup almond, rice or soy milk
    1/3 cup canned pumpkin
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Mix together, add cinnamon chips or walnuts to be decadent.

  • Pumpkin Soup:
    A lot of people also use pumpkin in soups either by itself or with fresh butternut squash. A great twist on making pumpkin soup can be found on one of my favorite new websites, www.hungry-girl.com . Check out the website for lots of ideas, but here is her recipe. It's yummy!

  • Sassy Salsa Pumpkin Soup: (from Hungry Girl cookbook)

    Non-stick cooking spray
    1 tbsp minced garlic
    1 tbsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp cumin
    4 cups Fat Free broth (chicken or vegetable)
    15 oz. can pure pumpkin
    1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 cup corn
    3/4 cup salsa (this is where you can add or reduce the spiciness)
    Optional toppings: shredded reduced-fat or fat-free cheese, and reduced-fat or fat free sour cream

    Directions: Spray pot with non-stick cooking spray and heat pan on medium. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin, and stir for one minute. Add broth to the spices, and bring to a simmer. Add pumpkin and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. This soup can be served with a sprinkle of cheese and a little fat free sour cream on top. Serves 4.

  • Pumpkin- Carrot Snack Bars: (from Prevention's Sugar Solution Cookbook)

    1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
    1 cup shredded carrot
    ½ cup sugar
    1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins, chopped
    ¼ cup canola oil
    2 large eggs
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    ½ tsp baking soda
    ¼ tsp salt
    ¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds or chopped walnuts

    Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 13 x 9 baking pan with cooking spray.

    In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, carrot, cranberries or raisins, oil, and eggs. Stir until well blended. Add the flour baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Mix until blended.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the seeds or walnuts. Bake for 22 -25 min. Cool in pan completely.

    Check out other recipes on prevention.com.

    By Chris Freytag

    Chris Freytag offers healthy lifestyle tips every week on the KARE 11 Sunrise "Motivation Monday" segment at 6:20 a.m. Chris has been educating and teaching fitness and nutrition for over 17 years. She is the author of 2 books, produced Fitness DVDs and sits on the Board of Directors for the American Council on Exercise. CLICK HERE to read more.

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