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Are Pumpkins and Gourds More Than Just Decoration?

October 1, 2018
As a decorative front porch ornament or a relaxing and homey fireplace mantel accent piece, pumpkins and gourds are more than just eye appeal. Yes, I’m talking about the edible benefits of adding some green, orange, and yellow colors into your diet. Feeling intrigued, yet?

Pumpkin and gourds are a type of winter squash that are a significant source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. This nutrient density better supports the immune system, as well as benefiting the heart. Pumpkin and gourds are also high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which supports eye health and helps to prevent the development of cancer. They're also low in calories (approximately 50 calories per serving), which can be a delicious addition to a weight management plan.

The types of pumpkins bred for Jack-O-Lanterns may be a little less flavorful and a bit stringier than pumpkins bred for pies, however any type of pumpkin or gourd is edible and usable for more than just decoration. If a pumpkin or gourd has been sitting on your porch but is still firm and intact with no evidence of insects or animal tampering, then these can be safely used for cooking. However, once a pumpkin has been carved, it needs to be discarded after use to avoid the potential for contracting food borne illness.

You’ve eaten pumpkin pie before, but what are some other fun recipes for you to try? Some recipe ideas for incorporating more pumpkin and gourds into your diet include:
Pumpkin chocolate Greek yogurt
Blueberry pumpkin oat muffins
Pumpkin hummus
Pumpkin ravioli
Baked Parmesan pumpkin fries
Pumpkin pancakes
Pumpkin bread
Pumpkin soup
Pumpkin waffles
Stuffed squash
Squash lasagna
Roasted squash
Squash cheesecake bars

If you make or have made some delicious recipes with pumpkin or gourds, feel free to share your ideas below or comment on my Speaking of Nutrition Facebook page. Happy Decorating and Happy Cooking!!!
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Low Carb Cinnamon Butter Cookies

December 14, 2017
Low Carb Cinnamon Butter Cookies

These cookies are simple and easy to make when you’re looking for something healthier and lower in sugar than traditional cookie recipes. It uses only 5 natural ingredients that are commonly found in the majority of grocery stores.

Ingredients:

• 2 cups of blanched almond flour or almond meal flour
• 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
• ½ cup of erythritol or Swerve sweetener
• ½ cup melted salted butter or unrefined coconut oil
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla


Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease two cookie sheets

2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the almond flour, cinnamon, and sweetener. Set aside

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly using a hand held mixer. Mix until smooth and that all visible lumps have disappeared

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly with the hand held mixer. Mix until smooth and that all visible lumps have disappeared.

5. Using a tablespoon or a cookie scoop, place cookies individually on the cookie sheets.

6. Place cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 10-20 minutes at 300 degrees. About halfway, take the cookies out of the oven and press down gently with a fork on the center of the cookie. Place cookie sheets back into the oven.

7. Remove the cookies from the oven and place them individually on a cooking rack or parchment paper

8. Allow to cool before eating

9. Store cookies in an airtight container. Cookies can also be frozen for later use


Nutrition Facts:

Serving size: 1 cookie. Recipe makes approximately 20 cookies

Calories: 102

Fat: 9.5 grams

Carbohydrate: 3.72 grams

Dietary fiber: 1.3 grams. Net carbs: 2.42 grams

Protein: 3.07 grams
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Eggplant and Sage Stuffing

November 19, 2017
Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. Not only is it a time to give thanks and express gratitude for our blessings, but it’s also about enjoying good food while having entertaining conversations with family and friends. My favorite dish at Thanksgiving is the stuffing. Although I’m not that big of a ‘bread person’, my aunt Kathy has always made the most delicious stuffing. However, in my quest to improve my health and the health of Americans however, I’ve discovered a new and satisfying way to enjoy stuffing without all the sugar and carbohydrates. The key ingredient to this successful outcome is eggplant. Yes, this highly nutritious and versatile vegetable provides a fantastic alternative to traditional homemade stuffing in both flavor and texture. While I will always love eating my aunt’s homemade stuffing at Thanksgiving, I’m happy to know that healthier alternatives exist for those who are interested.

Ingredients:

• 2 cups celery, chopped
• 1.5 cups onion, chopped
• 1 medium eggplant peeled and cubed, 4 cups
• 1 stick of salted butter
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 1/4 cup of ground sage
• 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
• 1 Tablespoon celery seed
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 2 eggs, beaten
• black pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium size baking dish

2. In a large cast iron skillet, melt ½ of the stick of butter. Sauté the celery and onion until celery is tender and the onions are translucent.

3. Add in the eggplant and the remainder of the butter. Sauté about 4 minutes

4. Pour in the chicken broth. Simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated

5. Add the ground sage, dried rosemary, celery seed, and cumin to the mixture. Simmer a few extra minutes.

6. Remove half of the eggplant mixture from the skillet and transfer to a blender

7. Add the eggs to the blender and blend until smooth

8. Add the eggplant puree to the eggplant skillet mixture. Mix together

9. Stir in fresh ground pepper

10. Pour mixture into the greased baking dish and cover

11. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy!



This recipe can be made 3 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, heat the stuffing in the oven until warmed through.


Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: ½ cup. Recipes makes approximately 10 servings

Calories: 43.5

Fat: 1.5 grams

Carbohydrates: 6.37 grams

Fiber: 2.4 grams. Net carbs: 3.97 grams

Protein: 2.4 grams

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