Autumn means one thing – comfort food.
Anything stodgy or warming, or feels like a hug in a bowl, that’s all we want to eat until Spring.
Now that Halloween is also just around the corner, the perfect ingredient for your autumnal recipes is everywhere you look.
The humble pumpkin isn’t just a cute and spooky accessory for your home, you can also chop it up, roast it, blend it – and it actually tastes delicious.
Not only does it taste good – think root vegetable with a lusciously light texture and a hint of sweetness – pumpkins are also brimming with nutritional value, so they’re really good for you.
‘Pumpkins are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc,’ says Alastair Lockwood ophthalmologist and eye surgeon at Feel Good Contacts.
‘Vitamin C slows down the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and reduces the risk of cataracts. Vitamin A protects the cornea and improves night vision, while zinc helps to deliver vitamin A from the liver to the retina to form melanin which protects the eye and helps slow down AMD progression.’
Alastair adds that pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are antioxidants.
‘These antioxidants protect your eyes by filtering out high energy wavelengths of light,’ he says. ‘They may also reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases such as cataracts and AMD.
‘In addition to beta-carotene and the vitamins that pumpkins offer, iron and folate strengthen the immune system and speed up the healing process of a wound.’
Aside from boosting eye health, Alastair says eating pumpkin has many other health benefits too.
‘They are high in fibre and potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and aid weight-loss,’ he adds.
‘While the market is saturated with pumpkin snacks, many of these snacks, including pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin pie, are packed with sugar. Snacks and beverages such as these are best enjoyed in moderation.
‘Healthy pumpkin snacks include baked pumpkin seeds, which are packed with vitamins, smoothies, and soup.’
Below are three delicious and simple recipes for you to try this autumn. So, get cooking and reap the benefits:
Simple pumpkin soup recipe
This pumpkin soup will satisfy your appetite during the colder months.
- ½ tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 cauliflower head, florets diced (about 5 cups of florets total)
- 240ml of vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 1 tin of pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt, to taste
- 120ml of full-fat canned coconut milk
- Chives to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat.
Sauté the onions in the pan for 5-10 minutes (until soft).
Add the garlic and the ginger and cook for a further minute taking care to stir.
Add cauliflower, broth, and pumpkin, turn heat to high, bring to a boil and cover.
Keep covered and reduce the heat to low.
Leave to simmer until the cauliflower is tender (20-30 minutes).
Add maple syrup, salt and coconut milk and stir.
Remove the soup and add to a blender; puree until smooth.
Nutritious pumpkin smoothie recipe
Pumpkin smoothies are easy to make and can be enjoyed in the morning for breakfast or after dinner as a dessert.
- 1 tin of pumpkin puree
- 1 banana
- 240ml of milk
- 30g of brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
Add all the ingredients to a blender and puree until nice and smooth.
Healthy roasted pumpkin recipe
Roasting a pumpkin enhances its flavours and is an incredibly versatile ingredient. It can be added to a salad or enjoyed as a main dish.
- 1 small pumpkin
- 2 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 200° C.
Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin, including the seeds.
Cut the rest of the pumpkin up into slices and place on a baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, ground cinnamon and brown sugar.
Place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes.
Cooking times may vary, so check the pumpkin after 15 minutes.
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