The Seasonal Superfood: Pumpkin

Over the past couple months I have been enjoying baking a lot of food at once. I like doing this because I have food ready whenever I need it and because it saves time. Also, I hate cleaning up after every time I want to cook. With this being said, I have experimented a lot with recipes that are easy, fast and long-lasting. These recipes are my favorite for this time of year because their primary ingredients are healthy, in-season vegetables. I don’t always eat vegan, but I do think it is important to know how to. Vegan recipes tend to much easier to concoct, as they typically don’t require as many ingredients. The recipes I am going to share with you are ones that are vegan and that I actually enjoy more than the non-vegan versions. They tend to be more agreeable with people with an intolerance, but they don’t sacrifice the taste.

With early morning classes or a demanding schedule in the morning, making easy and healthy breakfasts to go is essential to optimizing how you spend your morning or jump-start your day. Thankfully, making smart decisions about eating for your brain have become much easier. Now we know there are many benefits to adapting to a vegan diet. Studies have shown that eating less meat and more vegetables. Most people believe this to be difficult, as you may not be getting the proper amount of protein or calcium. While I am not here to advocate everyone going on a vegan diet, I think knowing a couple recipes is useful. First of all, there are some staples useful to cooking vegan food. Some of them are unsatisfactory substitutes and others are actually really good. Also, most of the commonly used vegan substitutes are super healthy. For instance, mixing milled flax seed with water is a substitute for eggs usually used in baking. I was surprised when I tried this, baking for my friend, that it actually turned out the same way as with the eggs.

A good breakfast option for this time of year is anything involving cinnamon, in my opinion. One of my favorite vegan breakfast recipes is vegan pumpkin bread. My favorite thing about this pumpkin bread is you cannot even tell that it is vegan. The other awesome thing about this bread is you can make it in one bowl and throw it straight into the oven. Once it’s done, take it out and enjoy. If you are patient enough, it is smart to let it cool down.

Fall is the perfect time to take advantage of all the health benefits of pumpkin. Pumpkin is a great stable for vegan recipes. It provides a lot of flavor and can jazz up any recipe. Here are some of the benefits of pumpkin:

  1. Pumpkin helps you achieve or maintain a healthy weight
  2. Pumpkin’s vitamin D helps you build strong bones. Pumpkins are also dense in magnesium and calcium.
  3. Pumpkins help regulate blood pressure.
  4. Pumpkins reduce stress. No wonder college students are obsessed with pumpkin! It contains Tryptophan, an amino acid, also know as the “happy hormone” serotonin. Making a pumpkin dish may be your answer to reducing or managing stress and anxiety.
  5. Pumpkin is good for your digestive system. Not only does pumpkin have anti-inflammatory properties, it helps alkalize the body’s pH.

So maybe eating pumpkin bread is not the healthiest way to get your pumpkin fix in and reap all the wonderful benefits, but it is definitely worth it. Knowing the benefits of pumpkin should make you feel good about enjoying your favorite pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup.

Vegan Pumpkin Bread (Or Muffins)

Dry Ingredients

1 ½ cups coconut flourpumpkin

1 cup almond flour

¼ sugar or alternative sweetener

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

3 tsp or pumpkin pie spice (more if you like!)

Wet Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 TBSP coconut oil

2 TBSP maple syrup

 

In addition to these ingredients, feel free to mix in some chocolate chips or nuts. I like adding in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. I have been meaning to make the pumpkin bread with dried fruit, too. Luckily, this recipe does not need add-ins, but it is always fun to try new combinations!

 

Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. I never understood why people mix ingredients in different bowls, but I think it really incorporates all the flavors so every bite consists of all the ingredients. This time around, I decided to make the bread in muffin tins. Baking in muffin tins makes it easier to have the perfect portion size and use different ingredients for each muffin, if you choose. Keep in mind it takes less time to bake compared to baking in a loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. I like mine under-cooked, so I check on the progress after about 40 minutes.

If you are craving something savory, sweet potato soup can be made in bulk and stored to eat throughout the week as well. At first, I didn’t think the combination of sweet and savory would work well, but my friend made this for me after an operation and I ate the entire bowl in one sitting. It’s that addicting. Don’t be fooled by the name!

Vegan Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup

3 sweet potatoes (medium)

½ cup pumpkin

1 can of coconut milk

Squeeze of lime juice

4 TBSP peanut butter

2 TBSP olive oil

Pinch of salt

1 onion

TSP Garlic

4 cups vegetable broth

First, cook the onion and garlic on a stove top with the olive oil until it softens. IN a separate pot (or in the microwave) soften the sweet potatoes. It usually takes about six minutes in the microwave, but that depends on the wattage of your microwave. After the ingredients are softened, combine them in a blender with the cold ingredients. Once it reaches a smooth consistency, you can place the entire recipe back into the pot and wait for it to warm up.

Both of these recipes are vegan and absolutely delicious. They incorporate the fall superfood that we all can’t get enough of while being easy to make and save the rest for later (or not!). Be sure to give these recipes a try and let us know what you think!

 

Peace, love and DDP,

 

Leah

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