It’s pumpkin spice everything season, as I’m sure your Facebook feed will attest. And while pumpkin is naturally very nutritious, the pumpkin spice food products that co-opt the flavor are not. Take a 16 ounce Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks for example, which is 380 calories (with none of the nutritional benefits of pumpkin) and contains 50 grams of sugar. And when one teaspoon equals four grams you are drinking the equivalent of 12 1/2 teaspoons, or a quarter cup of sugar. Think about that. A quarter cup of sugar. Ick. So buck the Pumpkin Spice trend and instead opt to eat pumpkin and other squash in a more natural state…
The abundance of affordable squash this time of year makes it easy to incorporate these healthy foods into your diet. We hit up the local farmer’s market and stock up on squash for 59 cents a pound. Squash, like pumpkin, acorn, or butternut, for example, are extremely low in calories, a great source of Vitamins A, C and E, Omega-3s, carotene, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, protein and fiber. Plus, many squash varieties are sweet, so they can easily satisfy a sugar craving.
There are tons of ways to eat squash: butternut squash soup, pumpkin ravioli, spaghetti squash and pesto, turkey and cheese stuffed acorn, or just baked with olive oil and salt. But the diversity of squash does not stop there. You can also preserve the seeds as a great, nutrition packed snack. Squash seeds are a great source of Zinc, Magnesium, Omega-3 fats and fiber.
Eating squash seeds can help with blood sugar regulation, inflammation reduction, can help with lowering blood-pressure, and can even reduce hot flashed in menopausal women. Plus, their portability makes them a great option for when you’re on-the-go. Roasting squash seeds takes about a half hour but the benefits of eating them can last you a lifetime. Here is a quick and easy recipe for roasting squash seeds:
Roasted Squash Seeds
- Fresh and cleaned squash seeds (pumpkin, acorn, sweet dumpling, butternut, etc.)
- Coconut Oil
- Lowry’s Seasoning (or seasoning of your choice)
- Tin foil
- Cookie Sheet
- Airtight Container
- Clean your seeds and toss them in coconut oil, the amount will vary based on how many seeds you have, just make sure they are thoroughly coated
- Sprinkle on your seasoning of choice and mix well. Be creative, toss them in cinnamon, chipotle powder, Italian seasoning or just plain old salt and pepper
- Spread seasoned seeds, in a single layer, on a tin foil covered cookie sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven for 15-20 minutes (the cook time will vary depending on the size and quantity of your seeds), toss every 10 minutes or so. The seeds are done when they begin to brown and become dry in appearance (they should crack when you bite into them)
- Store in an airtight container and enjoy