I read back in August that the Pumpkin Spice Latte was already returning to Starbucks, a full month before Autumn actually began.
I have to believe that at this point, the pumpkin craze is less about the season and more about the comfort of a squash associated with cool weather, cozy fires, and family.
But what if it’s more than that?
I mean sure, the PSL (as the cool kids call it) has little-to-no actual pumpkin in it, but as I’ve learned more about pumpkins over the years, I believe we should celebrate the vegetable as more than just a seasonal obsession around Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Below I share three family-friendly ways to enjoy the pumpkin, but first, let’s dive into why this orange food is more than just a flavor.
The Health Benefits of the Humble Pumpkin
Pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes melons, cucumbers, gourds, and squashes…
That’s right, the pumpkin is a distant cousin of the cucumber!
Pumpkins are a great source of Vitamins A and C as well as potassium and magnesium.
The vibrant orange hue of the pumpkin skin is due to its rich and varied carotenoid content — which acts as a type of antioxidant for humans. For example, beta carotene in pumpkin reduces organ damage brought on by oxidative stress in the body.
Pumpkin has also shown to help regulate blood sugar after eating, which is partly due to the plenty of fiber that a serving of pumpkin provides.
Even pumpkin seeds are associated with a decreased risk of sudden cardiac death through their magnesium content.
All hail the pumpkin! And those pumpkin treats everyone is whipping up this time of year? Maybe there’s more to them than you thought.
Here are three simple recipes to kick off your autumn (any of which could work for a vegan Thanksgiving):
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie Recipe
It’s no secret we’re a fan of the smoothie at No Meat Athlete, and this isn’t the first recipe I’ve used that calls for pumpkin puree.
Pumpkin adds an attractive creaminess and transforms your smoothie into something more like a milkshake than a tropical drink.
Plus, it’s super healthy with just 6 ingredients.
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 serving Complement protein powder
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
- Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until totally smooth. Feel free to add a few dates or some date syrup if you’d like a bit more sweetness, pour into a jar, and enjoy immediately!
Vegan Pumpkin Spice Bread Recipe
This recipe comes from Matt’s sister Christine who transformed an already vegan pumpkin bread recipe into one fit for the plant-based athlete.
- 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp each cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, and ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Sprinkles of oats and sugar for garnish
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine flaxseed and water and stir until thickened.
- Add flax mixture to a large bowl with sugar, applesauce, oil, and pumpkin.
- In a seperate medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
- Fold in the walnuts.
- Lightly grease two loaf pans.
- Divide into two regular 8 inch loaf pans or four mini loaf pans.
- For an extra touch, sprinkle on some oats or turbinado to garnish.
- Bake the large loaves for about 55 minutes and the smaller loaves for about 40 minutes.
- Let sit for 20 minutes before removing from pan.
No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Protein Energy Bites Recipe
These vegan no-bake pumpkin spice protein energy bites, also by Sara Grandominico are soft, chewy, and full of sweet and spiced flavors that are perfect for fall.
And as Sara says, they’re super easy to make and a great healthy snack or dessert to have on hand all week!
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup Complement protein powder
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 8 pitted medjool dates
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup oil-free, unsweetened almond butter – other nut or seed butters should work, but it may change the flavor
- Add the oats, protein and pumpkin spice to a food processor and blend until they’re totally ground up to flour consistency.
- Add the dates, pumpkin puree and almond butter and blend until everything is combined into a thick, sticky dough – it should take about 2-5 minutes.
- Use a tablespoon to portion out each energy bite, pressing it between your hands to form a sphere. Repeat until all the dough is gone – you’ll end up with about 18 bites total.
- Store the energy bites in the refrigerator or freezer (if you want them a bit more firm, just be sure to set them out a few minutes to thaw before enjoying).
Vegan Supplements: Which Ones Do You Need?
Written by Matt Frazier
I’m here with a message that, without a doubt, isn’t going to make me the most popular guy at the vegan potluck.
But it’s one I believe is absolutely critical to the long term health of our movement, and that’s why I’m committed to sharing it. Here goes…
Vegans need more than just B12.
Sure, Vitamin B12 might be the only supplement required by vegans in order to survive. But if you’re anything like me, you’re interested in much more than survival — you want to thrive.
So what else do vegans need?