Benefits of Pumpkin + 10 New Ways to Use It
This time of year is so much fun and filled with delicious foods and fun ways to celebrate! Maybe you’re enjoying a delicious pumpkin spice latte or you’re spending time with your kids by carving spooky faces into pumpkins.
However you choose to celebrate, I hope you’re having a fun and healthy October. I know we’re surrounded with more candy this time of year, but that doesn’t mean we have to abandon our health journies. In fact, did you know one of the most popular autumn ingredients is actually full of health benefits?
YUP! Pumpkins are GREAT for us.
Here Are Just Five Awesome Benefits:
1) Boost Immunity
Pumpkin is packed full of essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and zinc. These nutrients can boost your immune system and aid in fighting infections.
2) Low in Calories
Because pumpkin is about 94% water, its calorie count is very low. But it’s still filling, making it a great snack source and an excellent aid in weight loss.
3) High in Antioxidants
Pumpkin can aid in reducing the risk of chronic disease thanks to its high levels of antioxidants. This makes it useful protection against cell damage caused by free radicals (molecules produced by your body’s metabolic process that have been linked to chronic illnesses).
4) Strengthen Eyesight
Yes, you read that right! Eating pumpkins may strengthen your eyesight and reduce your risk of sight loss. Be sure to thank the plentiful nutrients in pumpkin for this awesome benefit!
5) Promotes Healthy Skin
All the nutrients pumpkins are loaded with are vital for strong and healthy skin. It can also help protect skin cells against damage from harmful UV rays.
As you can see, pumpkins have many awesome benefits! And there are even more ways you can make use of this delicious fruit besides the classic Jack-o-lanterns while also reducing the amount of waste left behind.
So, let’s use as much of the pumpkin as we can! Here are ten awesome uses of pumpkins to try this month:
First, you can make your own pumpkin puree, which is the base for a ton of delicious recipes. All you need is a pumpkin and some kitchen supplies (like a knife and blender or food processor) and before you know it, you’ll have homemade pumpkin puree, which is perfect for adding to smoothies, protein drinks, desserts, or many other recipes like the following scrubs, treats, and chili.
Learn how to make homemade pumpkin puree here!
And if you want to use some as soon as possible, try a Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte. This is cheaper, healthier, and (IMO) tastier than a drink at a coffee shop chain.
PUMPKIN SKIN SCRUBS
Did you know in addition to being rich in vitamins, pumpkins are also full of enzymes and antioxidants? It’s also moisturizing and soothing, making it a healthy ingredient to add to your food and drinks, but it’s also great for almost all skin types!
Using your homemade pumpkin puree, try making your own sugar pumpkin skin scrub. The basic ingredients include pumpkin puree, an oil (I prefer coconut oil), pumpkin pie spice, raw honey, and cinnamon. But you can also follow this recipe:
- 1 cup organic brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
- 2 Tbsp carrier oil (avocado, EVOO, or coconut oil, but this often sets too hard in the fridge so be aware of storage when choosing your oil)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Mix all ingredients together and apply the scrub to a freshly cleaned face. Rinse and pat dry!
PUMPKIN DOG TREATS
Humans aren’t alone in their enjoyment of pumpkin! Dogs also love this tasty treat and can benefit from the many nutrients.
It’s a fantastic source for soluble fiber, making it an easy remedy for diarrhea and constipation in your dog. It also helps feed beneficial gut bacteria, improving intestinal health in your furry friend. The vitamins and antioxidants in pumpkin can strengthen immunity in pets AND moisturize and improve their skin and coat.
So, there are a lot of great reasons to make some homemade dog treats with the many pumpkins you might already have.
Here are two easy recipes you can try:
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- Mix together and divide evenly into ice tray or molds
- Freeze for 24 hours and either store in a bag in the freezer or leave in the tray
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (Xylitol-free)
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Mix together the pumpkin and peanut butter before adding the flour to create a dough
- Use a cookie cutter or knife to cut out individual treats from the dough
- Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12 minutes
Don’t worry! I’m not going to let the dogs enjoy these treats all alone. You can also use pumpkin to make deserts your family and friends are SURE to love!
Try Pumpkin Ice Cream, one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made that is both delicious and super healthy! If you get warm fall days, this ice cream is wonderful and refreshing.
Or, try these Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cookies. Not only are they delicious and filled with nutrients, but baking them will make your house smell absolutely amazing!
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
This list would not be complete without roasted pumpkin seeds. This is the first step in reducing waste after carving jack-o-lanterns or emptying a pumpkin for one of these many other ideas. Instead of throwing out all the guts you’ve carved out of the pumpkin, try baking them instead.
Try this simple roasted pumpkin seed recipe or just toss the seeds with some olive oil and salt before baking them. Within minutes, you’ll have a delicious snack ready to be enjoyed by the whole family!
If you want to get really creative, you can use your hollowed-out pumpkin to serve food or drinks in! In a few simple steps, you’ll have the perfect serving bowl that will impress all of your guests.
- First, clean the pumpkin and cut off the top.
- Scoop out the insides so the pumpkin is clear.
- Optional: Line the pumpkin with plastic wrap if you want to serve snacks, candies, or treats in it.
- Pour liquid, pudding, or sauce into the cleaned-out pumpkin without the plastic wrap. (Whatever you serve will have a subtle pumpkin taste to it!)
- Serve and enjoy! Be sure to discard it and any leftovers after your meal/party.
There are countless delicious pumpkin recipes out there but some of the best are for breakfast! Breakfast may just be my favorite meal of the day and I LOVE coming up with unique new recipes to spice up the morning.
As you know, pumpkin is high in fiber, meaning it’s super filling and satisfying but also low in calories! So, it’ll fill you up with plenty of nutrients, making it great for fueling energy (which I’m sure a lot of us need in the mornings!)
Here are just three great pumpkin breakfasts to try this month:
Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats
If you don’t have a lot of time in the mornings, don’t worry! You can make these the night before so a delicious breakfast is waiting for you when you wake up.
Pumpkin Pie Granola
This is also great for making in advance! Make some time this weekend for your kids to join you in the kitchen while making pumpkin pie granola. Not only will they learn more about cooking, but they’ll also be much more likely to eat foods they’ve helped make!
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
I’ve saved my favorite breakfast recipe for last! This pancake recipe is FANTASTIC and virtually fool-proof. I hope you love it as much as I do and it finds its way on your meal plan.
DIY PUMPKIN BODY BUTTER
That’s right, we’re not done with new ways to use pumpkin for skincare! We’ll need a nice lotion or body butter to apply after using a sugar scrub and what’s more fun than doubling up on the pumpkin?
This is ideal for a luxurious fall-scented body butter (which is typically richer and thicker than lotion). The process for making DIY pumpkin body butter is simple:
- 1/2 cup shea butter
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. vitamin E oil
- Blend all ingredients together for about 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy
- Apply directly to skin and store in an air-tight container
PUMPKIN SOUP OR CHILI
If you didn’t know, soup is one of my favorite meals! Soup and chili are staples in my house during the fall and winter and adding pumpkin make them even more appropriate for the season.
Try this recipe for a delicious Spicy Pumpkin Chili, perfect for colder evenings. You may be surprised how much pumpkin compliments the other flavors in the chili.
Or, if you’re more of a soup person, try this delicious homemade Pumpkin Soup. Imagine curling up on the couch to watch a Halloween movie while enjoying this delicious soup. Sounds like a perfect autumn evening to me!
Did you know you can turn a pumpkin into a natural pot for a plant or flower? The process is simple! Slice off the top and hollow out the inside the same way you would for a jack-o-lantern or a serving bowl. Fill the pumpkin between ⅓ and ½ full with potting soil and gently set your plant on top of this soil. Cover the plant with more soil (the same amount you would in a normal pot or nursery to avoid root rot).
Instantly, you have double the decoration! The pot itself, which is perfectly fall-themed, and the beautiful flower.
After the pumpkin starts to rot, you can either plant the whole thing in the ground, allowing the pumpkin to act as a natural fertilizer or move the flower back to its original pot.
I hope one of these ideas helps you as you get ready for Halloween or decorate for the fall. Let me know your favorite way to use a pumpkin in the comments below.