The Pumpkin. GOURDgeous...all the way around!

The Pumpkin. GOURDgeous...all the way around!

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Boo! Happy Halloween, Vibrant Beet readers! I hope that while reading this post you are wearing some sort of silly outfit and eating a candy apple...at least that is what I will envision. Halloween is now known mainly as a day to have a little fun and mischief by dressing up for that yearly costume party, throwing some sand on the ol' campfire while telling some spooky stories, watching horror flicks, going on a haunted hayride or tour of an old mansion...or even go trick-or-treating (you are never to old!). It is also a great excuse to cook up a fun, simple and nutrient-rich fall meal by utilizing the entirety of the infamous, Mr. Pumpkin Head. Not only is it festive, but the pumpkin has some super powerful health benefits jam packed into that round, orange, beauty!

Here are a few healthy and not-so-scary benefits of the pumpkin:
1. High in vitamins A & C, cooked pumpkin guts help keep your immune system strong and your vision sharp so that you can check out all those cool trick-or-treaters! 
2. Pumpkins are jam packed with fiber, keeping you fuller for a longer amount of time...meaning less cravings for that Halloween candy!
3. The seeds of the pumpkin are rich in phytosterols that help to reduce bad cholesterol and are linked in helping to fight off certain cancers. 
4. The gourd-like squash is loaded with tryptophan ~ an amino acid that helps aid in the production of serotonin...sure to boost your mood after your Halloween candy sugar high wears off. 
5. Filled with lots of carotenoids (which give them their beautiful, orange color), including beta-carotene, they may have a role in cancer prevention and keep your skin looking vibrant and wrinkle-free...no need to cover your face with that Halloween mask!
5. When cooked, the pumpkin contains potassium ~ a perfect way to get those much needed electrolytes after a night partying with your pals while dancing to "The Monster Mash".


So now, blast Michael Jackson's "Thriller"and start carving your pumpkin...but save the flesh and seeds for a holiday treat! Chef John Hellmers shares with me his tasty recipe for a fall soup and a twist on the classic roasted pumpkin seed. (And no, he did not come up with the titles...I did. He is not as corny as I am. Well, that is up for debate.)

Depths of Hell Pumpkin Seeds:
Ingredients:
- fresh, cleaned pumpkin seeds
- healthy spray oil of your choice (grapeseed, sunflower...your choice)
- teaspoon of olive oil
- salt
- paprika
- chipotle seasoning

Directions:
1. Scoop seeds from pumpkin, rinse thoroughly and dry on paper towel.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Spray cookie sheet with healthy spray oil.
4. In a bowl, toss seeds with olive oil, salt, paprika and a chipotle seasoning.
5. Spread tossed seeds on baking sheet so that they are not on top of each other.
6. Bake for 10 minutes, pull baking sheet out of oven, move around seeds (to prevent burning), spray with a tiny bit more oil and sprinkle with a bit more seasoning. 
7. Place back in oven for 10 more minutes. 
8. Let cool.
9. Enjoy by themselves or as a topping on a salad!

Witches Caldron Pumpkin Soup (no need for an actual caldron):
Ingredients:
- 1 medium, organic pumpkin
- 1/3 yellow onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup almond milk 
- 1/2 cup veggie stock
- healthy spray oil
- sage
- cinnamon
- salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Take pumpkin and cut into blocks (leave skin on for bonus nutrients) and lay flat on oiled baking sheet .
3. Roast pumpkin in oven for 20 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and add pumpkin to blender with onion and garlic.
5. Slowly add almond milk and veggie stock to adjust thickness...but, don't add too much or will be watery!
6. Season with salt.
7. Garnish with sage and cinnamon...and your pumpkin seeds.
8. Serve and enjoy! 

Have a ghoulish eve'...







A Vibrant Girl.

A Vibrant Girl.

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