No matter how health-conscious your eating habits are, everyone needs a little dessert sometimes.
Pumpkin, a vegetable belonging to the squash family, is low in calories and fat, making it the perfect healthy treat. That way, you can have all of the enjoyment without any of the guilt. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too.
Pumpkin is high in protein, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper and essential fatty acids. Its distinctive bright orange color also indicates it is loaded with the vitamin beta-carotene, which helps fight free radicals.
Pumpkin is also a great immune system booster and rich in fiber, preventing one from cancer and heart diseases.
Pumpkin also makes a great fat substitute in baking.
A full cup of pumpkin cut into cubes has only 30 delicious calories and almost no fat. This makes it a naturally sweet and tasty treat if you happen to be watching your calorie intake.
In fact, pumpkin can be a good substitute for higher calorie desserts.
Pumpkin protein shake
(Ingredients for one shake)
3 large ice cubes
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (plain puree)
1/3 cup no sugar added apple juice
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1-2 packets Splenda (optional)
1 scoop low-sugar vanilla protein powder
Optional: 1/3-cup frozen apple (peeled); 1/2 cup fat- free milk
Optional garnish: 1 tablespoon sugar-free Cool Whip, sprinkle with cinnamon
Directions: Add ice, wet ingredients and dry ingredients to blender. Blend until shake consistency. Pour into large tumbler, add a straw and go.
Pumpkin souffle side dish
1 (16-ounce) can plain pumpkin puree
1/3-cup no sugar added applesauce
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 egg whites
1 egg yolk
1/2-cup fat free milk or unsweetened soy milk
Directions: Preheat oven to 380 °F. Beat egg whites in medium bowl until stiff. Set aside.
Have small ramekins or coffee cups ready with wax paper placed around edges and inside. Trust me, it makes for easier clean up.
Using electric mixer, blend pumpkin, applesauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, egg yolk and milk in large bowl. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into pumpkin blend. Continue to fold in egg whites 1/3 at a time until egg whites are completely folded in.
Pour pumpkin/egg mix into cups until almost full. Leave about a half inch or more at the top as they will rise. Place cups on baking tray and put into oven. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Do not open oven to check on soufflés. Use oven light.
Top with sugar-free whipped topping, nuts, cinnamon/nutmeg, or any other desired toppings.
Pumpkin pie protein pudding
Number of servings: 6
1 16-ounce can plain pumpkin puree
12-ounce can evaporated skim milk
1 large box sugar-free, fat-free instant vanilla pudding mix
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Directions: Whisk together the evaporated skim milk and the vanilla pudding mix. Add pumpkin and spice. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Can be sprinkled with crumbled low-fat graham crackers and served with sugar- free Cool Whip.
Gina Ostarly, a seasoned fitness professional, has been changing lives in the Treasure Coast area for more than a decade. Her passion for fitness drives her to educate and share the knowledge needed to adapt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Contact her with your health and fitness questions at GinaOstarly@aol.com.