What’s that? You thought pumpkins were just for decoration?! Couldn’t be farther from the truth! Halloween tradition may have us carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, but you’re missing out if you’ve never eaten a fresh pumpkin. This super fruit is loaded with good nutrition to keep your immune system in fighting form. One cup of cooked pumpkin is an excellent source of the antioxidant powerhouse beta carotene, the food source of vitamin A, and a good source of vitamins C and E, ribloflavin as well as a the minerals potassium, copper and maganese, and dietary fiber, too. The seeds, known as pepitas, also pack a nutrition punch including healthy fats, protein and minerals.
Pumpkin is a member of the squash family and grows on a vine. The vines grow low to the ground, and the heavy pumpkins actually rest on the ground. While Americans tend to associate pumpkins with Thanksgiving, they are actually a warm-weather crop that is usually planted in early July. Pumpkins are quite hardy, so they can stand up to undesirable weather. They also produce an edible flower, like a squash blossom, which looks lovely on salads.
Pumpkin can be cooked similarly to other winter squashes. It is tender and sweet when roasted, and makes a great creamy soup when pureed. Instead of discarding the seeds inside, rinse and dry them well, then roast them with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. The “kernel” of the seed is what’s typically sold in stores, but you can actually eat the outer husk too for a little extra fiber. You can also buy canned pureed pumpkin for extra convenience—just make sure to buy 100% pumpkin pureed and not pumpkin pie mix, which is packed with sweeteners. That canned pumpkin goes great in the pancake recipe below! Try these buckwheat pancakes for a delicious autumn breakfast that’s filled with flavor and nutrition!
Blueberry (or Pumpkin!) Buckwheat Pancakes
Recipe from Appetite for Life: The Thumbs-Up, No-Yucks Guide to Getting Your Kid to be a Great Eater, by Stacey Antine, MS, RD
Here’s your new favorite pancake recipe. We used buckwheat flour because it’s a rich source of flavonoids and fiber, and we added ground flaxseeds to provide omega-3 fatty acids. The antioxidant-packed blueberries are a seasonal fruit, so if it’s the off-season, use frozen, or try a cup of pureed pumpkin instead, for a comparable antioxidant boost. Drizzle with 100% pure maple syrup or agave nectar, and your white-flour-only pancake lover will definitely make the switch.
Kids can crack and separate eggs and flip pancakes with adult supervision.
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1½ cups low-fat (1%) milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries or pumpkin puree
Maple syrup or agave nectar
1. In a large bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, flaxseeds, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
2. Add egg, egg whites, milk, and vanilla to flour mixture, and stir until moistened. Add blueberries and stir until blended.
3. Heat a nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Pour batter by ¼ cup onto the hot griddle or skillet. Cook pancakes until bubbles form on top, about 4 minutes. Turn over and cook a few minutes longer, until underside is golden. Transfer pancakes to a plate; keep warm. Repeat until all batter is used.
4. Serve with pure maple syrup or agave nectar.
Makes 6 servings (2 pancakes per serving)
Nutrition Facts per serving: 170 calories; 3g fat (0.5g sat fat, 1g mono, 1g poly, 0g trans fat); 35mg cholesterol; 28g carbohydrate (4g fiber, 12g sugar); 7g protein; 320mg sodium; 4% Daily Value (dv) vitamin A; 4% dv vitamin C; 10% dv calcium; 6% dv iron
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