Recipe: Healthy benefits of pumpkin

by Ashlee Lamar

Pumpkins commonly symbolize jack o’ lanterns at Halloween or table decorations at Thanksgiving, however they also offer a lot more health and nutrition benefits.

Pumpkins are a nutrient rich food that are low calorie and fat free, and are high in Vitamin A and beta carotene.

The beta carotene in pumpkin is converted into Vitamin A by the body, and it promotes healthy skin and eyes. It may also protect against infections.

Not a fan of pumpkin? Beta carotene is also found in foods that are deep orange or yellow in color (such as squash, cantaloupe, carrots, mangoes, sweet potatoes) and in some leafy green vegetables.

Both raw pumpkin and pumpkin in a can offer nutritional benefits.

When using canned pumpkin, be sure to get the regular pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie filling or mix.

Pumpkin is a great addition to a variety of dishes. It can be used in muffins, cookies cakes, soups, pasta or as part of a healthy dessert. Check out the recipe below for Pumpkin-Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease baking sheets.
2. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a different bowl until light and fluffy. Add in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well.
4. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients; mix well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.
5. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned and set in centers. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Servings: 48 Serving Size: 1 cookie
Calories: 120, Total fat: 5 g; Saturated Fat 2.5 g, Cholesterol: 15 mg, Carbohydrates: 17g, Sodium 80 mg, Sugars: 11g; Protein: 1g
Recipe adapted from Nestle Kitchens

Ashlee Lamar is a registered dietitian at Providence Medical Center.

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