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Whilst the first things that may come to mind when thinking about pumpkins are pies and jack-o’lanterns, this orange gourd has a number of other uses and benefits worth noting.

Pumpkin Perks: Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Rich in beta carotene and a powerful antioxidant, pumpkin protects against oxidative stress and has strong anti-aging benefits. Beta carotene, along with the high vitamin A, C and K content, also enhances immune function.

Beyond its micronutrients, pumpkin can also support healthy weight management. It’s high in fiber and low in fat—helping to ward off winter weight gain. One cup of pumpkin contains only 80 calories!

Here are my 5 favorite new ways to use pumpkin this fall season:

1. As a Smoothie Boost

Add pumpkin as a boost to your favorite breakfast smoothie.

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Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
  • ¾ cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 scoop of Vega One Vanilla Chai
  • ½ cup ice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients into a blender and blend well.

Find more fall-friendly smoothie recipes

2. In a Sweet Treat

Because pumpkin is high in fiber and low in fat, it adds a healthy twist to decadent desserts.

Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pumpkin purée
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup coconut butter (make sure it’s heated to point of being liquid)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

3. In Your Lunch Box

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I love this salad because it contains cranberries, pumpkin and pecans – my favorite fall foods!

Roasted Pumpkin Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 small pumpkins
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, then place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet greased with 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Roast until soft (about 30 minutes).
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until golden, about 15 minutes.
  1. Stir in cooked quinoa and add spinach. Remove from heat and cover, just until the spinach wilts, a minute or two.
  1. Add remaining ingredients to the skillet and stir to blend.
  1. Remove pumpkin from the oven. Scoop out part of the flesh from two of the halves. Chop, then stir into the quinoa blend. Enjoy!

Check out more fall vegan salad recipes

4. In Your Morning Oats

There’s nothing like the combination of oatmeal and pumpkin to make me feel cozy. Forget your pumpkin flavored latte, and use this breakfast to wake you up in the morning.

Pumpkin Pie Vegan Oatmeal

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin purée
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice
  • Dried cranberries (optional)
  • Chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cook oatmeal your favorite way—on the stove top or in the microwave.
  2. Instead of water, add almond milk.
  3. Cook until consistency is right, then add in spices and pumpkin.
  4. Top with pecans and dried cranberries, if desired.

5. As Part of Your Beauty Routine

Revitalize your skin with this face mask. Both pumpkin and raw cane sugar contain alpha hydroxyl acids—you will slough off dead skin cells and encourage the growth of new healthy cells for a fall glow! I also add pumpkin seed butter because it is high in fats for moisture, and in zinc to combat acne.

Anti-Aging Pumpkin Face Mask

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 banana
  • ¼ cup raw cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin seed butter

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend. Massage onto face. Let sit for 10 minutes and wash off.

This article was republished with permission from youngandraw.com.

Image Source:

http://relishmama-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Quinoa-salad-26.08.jpg

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