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vegetables-943368_640You know that fall is here when you cannot go a block without seeing a pumpkin spice latte advertisement. But there is more to the orange squash than just lattes, jack-o-lanterns, and pies.

Although winter squash isn’t compatible with the GreenLite diet plan, pumpkin can be enjoyed in moderation. To give you an idea of just how different squash can be, one cup of acorn squash contains 29.9 grams of carbs, butternut squash has 21.5g of carbs, but pumpkin only has 12 grams. Please note that we are talking about true pumpkin, not pumpkin flavoring or pie mix!

Pumpkins also have great health benefits you may not be familiar with. Read on for some inspiration to add pumpkin into your diet plan.

Packed with Fiber

1 cup of cooked, pureed pumpkin contains 2.7 grams of fiber that will help you stay fuller longer throughout the day. Incorporating pumpkin in the morning will help keep your body stay fueled and avoid late-morning hunger.

Vitamin A Powerhouse

You can get 200% of your daily vitamin A allowance with just one cup of cooked, pureed pumpkin. The beta carotene that gives pumpkins, carrots, and sweet potatoes its orange color converts into vitamin A, which helps support a healthy immune system, good vision, and cell growth.

Antioxidants

Pumpkin also includes zeaxantin and lutein, which are antioxidants associated with eye health. Both of these are known to help with macular degeneration and prevent cataracts.

Potassium Source

Many people choose bananas as their go-to for potassium. Try incorporating pumpkin instead, especially if you are looking for good post-workout nutrition. 1 cup has 564 milligrams, as compared to 422 milligrams in a banana.

Adding In Pumpkin

Cooked, pureed pumpkin is easy to incorporate into your everyday diet plan. It has a mild flavor that won’t dramatically change the flavor of your food, but it will give you the extra health benefits. To make it even easier, try stocking up on canned organic pumpkin to have on hand. Because of its dense nature, it is great to use as a food thickener. Pumpkin is fantastic in low-carb soups, like our GreenLite creamy spicy pumpkin soup. You can add pumpkin to Greek yogurt, hummus, chili, or even morning smoothies.  It is important to remember that pumpkins are still carbohydrates, so keep that in mind when you are meal planning. A good rule of thumb is to stick to no more than one cup per day (which equals 12 grams of carbs) and count it as your fruit allotment.

If you happen to be buying whole pumpkins, do not throw out the seeds. Wash the seeds, let dry, place on a cookie sheet, and bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes. They are done when they just start to turn golden brown (and your house smells delicious). If you really feel adventurous, try tossing with ingredients such as cayenne pepper, cinnamon, or ginger to give it a little kick. Seeds are great to have on hand or in your purse for a healthy snack on the go and will help you stick to a healthy, low-carb diet plan instead of eating processed snack food. Just a quarter cup contains half of your daily magnesium, which helps keep your blood pressure normal, your bones strong, and your heartbeat steady. The seeds are also rich in phytosterols, which help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol). You can even use raw pumpkin seeds to make the delicious granola from our recipe archive.

Check out our newest GreenLite Pinterest board for pumpkin recipes. We want to hear from you! Let us know if you have any low-carb friendly pumpkin recipes.

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