Autumn Pumpkins: Not Just For Decoration (They Contain 15 Bone-Building Nutrients!)
Nothing says “autumn” like beautiful, orange pumpkins piled high at farmers markets and grocery stores. Some are as small as grapefruits; others are larger than manhole covers! Because of their beauty, it’s easy to think of pumpkins as purely decorative. But don’t let those lovely pumpkins go to waste!
You see, pumpkins are a rich source of many important bone-healthy nutrients. They yield delicious flesh and crunchy, edible seeds, all of which are alkalizing and full of vitamins and minerals that infuse your bones with nutrients they need to thrive.
Other than pumpkin pie, you may be wondering how to prepare this seasonal gourd. So I’ve developed three scrumptious pH-balanced recipes to share with you today.
What’s In A Pumpkin?
Here are the vitamins and minerals in pumpkins:
One cup of mashed, cooked pumpkin has 12,231 IU of this vitamin. There are multiple constituents to Vitamin A, including lutein and various carotenes. Beta-carotene is the best-known of these nutrients. Your body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which promotes healthy liver and kidney function.
Beta-carotene is sometimes called the “sunscreen nutrient” because of its skin-protective qualities.
There are 11.5 milligrams of Vitamin C in a cup of mashed pumpkin. Vitamin C is crucial for immune system function, and it is necessary for the formation of collagen, a protein that forms the flexible part of bone. Collagen is necessary for healthy skin and cartilage as well.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant as well, and it actually plays a direct role in bone remodeling by suppressing osteoclasts and stimulating osteoblasts. Vitamin C works with Vitamin D, and research has shown that a deficiency in both of these vitamins is more detrimental to bone than a deficiency in just one of them.
At 15.2 milligrams per cup, pumpkin flesh is a good source of this little-known B vitamin. Human cell membranes depend on choline for the proper formation of their structural components.
Other B vitamins in pumpkin include:
Niacin (B3)*, Riboflavin (B2)*, and Thiamin (B1)*
Niacin releases energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and riboflavin is required for the regeneration of glutathione, the Master Antioxidant. Thiamin supports the metabolism of carbohydrates, and is necessary for normal functioning of the nervous system.
One cup of pumpkin has 1 milligram of niacin, .2 of riboflavin, and .1 of thiamin.
Another B vitamin, folate is the naturally occurring form of synthetic folic acid (B9). It is essential for the metabolism of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, of which your bones are partially composed. Folate is anti-inflammatory, prevents anemia, and is involved in nucleic acid metabolism primarily by producing genetic material from precursors. Because of this, folate is able to help reverse the aging process at the genetic level.
Providing 2 milligrams per cup, which is 10 percent of the US RDA, pumpkin is a good source of this powerful antioxidant/vitamin. Vitamin E helps build muscle tissue, a vital aspect of building bone. Strong muscles, after all, are necessary for the proper stimulation of bone growth via exercise.
Minerals In Pumpkin:
This bone-building mineral needs no introduction! While many vitamins and minerals work in synergy to product strong bones, calcium is one of the most crucial of them all. It is the primary mineral that handles bone strength, and it is one of the first alkalizing minerals to be leeched from bone in the body’s attempt to correct acidosis, or a highly acidic body environment brought on by an acid-forming diet.
You’ll find 36.7 milligrams of calcium in one cup of mashed pumpkin.
A cup of pumpkin provides 22 milligrams of magnesium, a mineral that is every bit as important as calcium in rejuvenating bone. This amazing mineral is a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic processes, and it regulates a number of vital body functions, such as the synthesis of protein and the function of nerves and muscles. With magnesium deficiency a rampant problem, it is a good idea to include lots of magnesium-rich foods in your diet.
This same cup of mashed, cooked pumpkin offers 564 milligrams of this powerfully alkalizing electrolyte mineral. Potassium works to balance sodium in the body, correcting the sodium-heavy imbalance so prevalent in industrialized nations today.
Copper*, Manganese*, and Zinc*
These three trace minerals are listed together because they work as a trio to promote healthy bones. Together, they make up the chemical structure of Superoxide Dismutase, a bone-protective antioxidant that is essential for preventing bone loss.
Pumpkin flesh contains .2 milligrams of copper and manganese, and .6 of zinc.
Pumpkin seeds also contain this powerful trio, and many of the other bone-building nutrients mentioned above.
Polyphenols in Pumpkin:
How To Prepare A Whole Pumpkin
Instead of choosing canned pumpkin, which may contain unhealthy amounts of sugar, salt, and other additives, you can prepare your own mashed, pureed pumpkin. Here’s how.
First, choose a small pumpkin (or several small ones). A six-inch pie pumpkin will yield about 2 ½ cups of mashed pumpkin. Then follow these steps:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise. You may want to remove the stem first.
- Scrape out the seeds and fibrous mass surrounding them. Your best bet is to use a grapefruit spoon for this. Save the seeds to make into delicious, crunchy pumpkin seeds that are rich in bone-smart nutrients.
- Cut the pumpkin halves in half again, and then cut the resulting fourths into two or three pieces.
- Place the pumpkin pieces in a shallow baking dish, skin side up.
- Pour in enough water just to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Cover the dish and bake at 325 for about 45 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and can be poked easily with a fork. Add a little more water if necessary.
- Allow the cooked pieces to cool, and then scoop the flesh away from the skin with a serving spoon. It should easily lift away from the rind.
- Mash the pulp with a fork for a chunky consistency, or place in the blender for a smooth puree.
Now you are ready to try these three delectable recipes!
Pumpkin “Ice Cream” Pie
Servings: 8 to 10
Here’s an alternative to traditional pumpkin pie that will be sure to please ice-cream lovers and pumpkin pie-lovers alike.
- 1 cup chopped dates
- 1 cup whole, raw almonds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- Coconut oil
- 4 cups plain, organic Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup honey (adjust to taste)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon each ground ginger, cloves, and nutmeg
Directions for crust:
- In a blender or food processor, whirl almonds until they form a fine meal consistency. Add the dates, pinch of salt, and vanilla, and grind/pulse until the mixture becomes a ball.
- Oil a nine-inch pie plate with the coconut oil.
- Press the date-almond mixture evenly onto the bottom and sides of the pie plate, cover, and place in the freezer while you prepare the filling. Crust should be in the freezer for at least 90 minutes; if you finish the filling before then, cover and refrigerate the filling until the crust is frozen.
Directions for filling:
- Using an electric mixer, blend the honey with the yogurt. Add the pumpkin, blend well, and mix in the vanilla and spices.
- Remove the crust from the freezer and pour in the filling.
- Cover and freeze until firm, which will take at least two hours. To make cutting into servings easier, dip a sharp knife into hot water before slicing.
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal (While You Sleep)
Wake up to already-prepared, spiced, creamy oatmeal with this recipe.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- ½ cup mashed or pureed pumpkin
- 1 large, ripe banana, mashed
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Simply combine all ingredients in a glass container with a lid – a jar or food storage container works fine – and give the mixture a good stir or shake.
- Place the container in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you can eat the softened oatmeal cold or gently heat it up. Top it with a little honey if you like.
Flourless Pumpkin Mini Muffins
Servings: 12 muffins
These tasty little flourless muffins are almost bite-sized, making them perfect for snacking. If you do not have a mini muffin tin, you can use a regular-sized tin; it will just make fewer muffins, and you’ll need to increase the baking time.
- 1 large, ripe banana
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup pureed pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ cup chopped dates
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Oil your muffin tins with coconut oil.
- Using an electric mixer, blend all of the wet ingredients until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients – oats, spices, dates, and baking powder – and mix well.
- Fill muffin cups with the mixture – it’s okay to go all the way to the brim, as these mini muffins will puff up above the rims.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes (20 to 25 minutes if using regular-size muffin tins), or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool thoroughly before removing muffins from the tin.
Creative Ways To Use Pumpkin And Other Bone-Healthy Foods
Pumpkin can also be used as a substitute for sweet potatoes and carrots. In Bone Appétit, the companion cookbook to the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you’ll find more creative pumpkin dishes. Curried Pumpkin Bisque (page 47) is a savory dish that includes tomatoes, scallions, and green peppers. Superb Pumpkin Casserole (page 72) features small chunks of pumpkin flesh cooked in a creamy plain yogurt base.
As you can see, pumpkin is surprisingly versatile! The good news is, so are many other bone-healthy foods. Bone Appétit will show you exciting new ways to prepare nutritious foods that are delicious, creative, and full of bone-rejuvenating nutrients.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
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Till next time,