Monthly Archives: September 2015

Pumpkin: Fall’s Super Food

By Cristina McMullen, Certified Wellness Coach, Bio-Energetic Practitioner

Cristina McMullen

Fall is finally here, which means it is time for pumpkins! Whether it be carving pumpkins, drinking pumpkin spice lattes, or eating pumpkin pie, pumpkins embody everything festive and comforting about fall and the coming cooler weather.  But there is much more to these gourds than pretty decorations, fun activities, and delicious (yet very sugary) desserts and drinks.  Pumpkins are full of nutrition and are actually considered by some to be a fall super food!

Here are some reasons why you may want to add some pumpkin into your diet this season:

Pumpkin Helps Protect Eyesight
Just one cup of mashed pumpkin contains over 200% of the RDI of Vitamin A, which helps with vision.  Pumpkins also contain beta-carotene, the compound that gives pumpkins their orange hue, which is converted by the body into a form of Vitamin A, adding more protection to your vision.  They are also loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that may help prevent cataracts and even slow down the development of macular degeneration.

Pumpkin Helps Boost Immunity
The same cup of mashed pumpkin also contains 20% of the RDI of Vitamin C.  This single vitamin helps boost our immune system so that we can be proactive in staying healthy this coming cold and flu season.

Pumpkin Seeds Can Help Protect Your Heart
Nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are naturally high in plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in some studies to help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Pumpkin Seeds Can Boost Your Mood
Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan.  This amino acid is important in the production of serotonin, one of the major neurotransmitters that impact our mood.

Pumpkins Can Aid in Weight Loss
Once cup of pumpkin contains 3 gram of fiber.  Because fiber is what helps us to feel fuller longer, pumpkin can help keep us from eating too much over the holidays and packing on those winter pounds.

Pumpkin May Help Ward Off Diabetes
Aside from the benefit of adding fiber into your diet, pumpkins have been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, and increase the amount of insulin your body produces.

Pumpkin May Reduce Cancer Risk
We now know that pumpkins contain very high amounts of beta-carotene.  Research has shown that people who eat foods rich in beta-carotene may have a lower risk of developing certain forms of cancer, especially prostate and breast cancers.

So go ahead and make both of these amazing pumpkin recipes this fall!  They are both full of flavor and guilt-free!

PUMPKIN CHOWDER

Ingredients:

  • 2 sugar pumpkins (also called pie pumpkins), peeled and diced into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 organic celery stalks, sliced
  • 3 large organic carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 organic, free range chicken breasts
  • 3 quarts organic vegetable broth
  • 1 stick organic, pasture raised butter
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • Sriracha (optional)

pumpkin chowder

Directions:

  • Before cutting up the vegetables, add the chicken breasts and vegetable broth to a large stockpot, cover, and cook on high in order to start cooking the chicken.
  • In another large pan, melt the coconut oil. Add the vegetables, garlic, and seasoning and cook until the vegetables begin to soften (about 7-10 minutes).
  • Add the vegetable mix to the stockpot of chicken and broth. Chop ½ bunch of cilantro and add to the soup.  Continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Remove the chicken, cool a bit, and shred before returning it back to the pot.
  • While the chicken is cooling, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the gluten free flour to make a paste. Begin to incorporate some broth into the flour paste one cup at a time until it begins to have a soupy consistency and then add this mix to the stockpot.
  • Bring the soup to a boil and allow it to thicken for a few minutes.
  • Add the almond milk.
  • Serve the soup and garnish it with extra fresh cilantro and, if you want some extra kick, some sriracha.

 HEALTHY PUMPKIN FUDGE

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut butter (I used Nutiva’s Coconut Manna)
  • 1 ½ cups organic pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup raw, local honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Directions:

  • Melt the coconut butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring out all of the clumbs
  • Remove from heat and mix together with the remainder of the ingredients
  • Spread out on a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours, or until the fudge hardens to consistency
  • Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Join Longevity for the October Greening Project!

In October, Longevity Health Center is encouraging our patients to get back to the basics of good health and nutrition by joining the Longevity Greening Project.  For 30 days, we will join together in drinking at least one green smoothie a day.  As we go along, we will be using our Facebook page (Longevity Health Center) to share recipes, tips, photos, and most importantly, results!

What are green smoothies and why should I drink them?
A green smoothie is simply a combination of dark, leafy, green vegetables, ripened fruit and a liquid base all blended together.   Green smoothies are a quick and easy way to get lots of veggies and fruit into your diet, giving your body the food-based nutrition that it needs.  The practitioners and staff at Longevity Health Center are hoping that by joining this project together, we can all reap the benefits of gaining energy, shedding excess pounds (where needed), and boosting immunity, while changing the way that we, as individuals, and as a community, view nutrition.

green-smoothie-pic

What do I need?
Other than the food, you will need some sort of blender.  The latest and greatest kitchen gadgets boast of emulcifying power to maximize nutrition.  Many of our Longevity friends are hooked on the NutriBullet, the Vitamix, The Ninja, etc…  But a simple blender will meet your needs just fine!  

There are also some great online resources that can help you with recipe ideas and shopping lists.  We used www.simplegreensmoothies.com as our primary source in putting together our Greening Project plan.

The Basic Recipe: Greens + Ripe Fruit + Liquid Base

Greens Ripe Fruit Liquid Base
(1+ Cup) (1/2+ Cup) (1+ cup)
Recommend Organic

(Fresh or Frozen)

Examples Include:

Recommend Organic

(Fresh or Frozen)

Examples Include:

Recommend Non-Dairy
Examples Include:
Spinach
Kale
Swiss Chard
Collards
Romaine
Arugala
Beet Greens
Berries
Banana
Mango
Apple
Citrus Fruit
Peach
Pear
Pineapple
Grapes
Avacado
Melon
Cherries
Water
Coconut Water
Coconut Milk
Almond Milk
Rice Milk

Boost Your Nutrition!
A daily green smoothie is an easy vehicle by which to pack nutritional punch.  Some people use green drinks as a meal replacement in order to shed pounds, while others use them in addition to meals or as a post-workout recovery snack to gain weight or build muscle mass.  We encourage you to get creative and throw in boosters that will help you meet your health goals.  Here are some “add in” ideas to get you started:

High-Quality Whey or Non-Vegan Protein Powder (available at LHC)
Coconut Oil (available at LHC)
Almond / Cashew / Coconut Butter
Flax / Chia / Hemp Seeds (available at LHC)
Maca Root Powder
Cinnamon
Cayenne Pepper
Turmeric Powder
Cacao Powder
Ginger Root
Cilantro /Basil / Mint / Parsley
Spirulina or Greens Powders (available at LHC)
Liquid Chlorophyll (available at LHC)
Raw, Local or Manuka Honey (available at LHC)

Share Your Experience!
The Longevity Greening Project is intended to be a community experience!  We want to benefit from each other’s experiences – from simple tips that helped you make your smoothie easier, yummier, healthier, etc…,great finds / sales, resources (books / websites), recipes, successes and mishaps!  Most importantly, we want to hear about the health benefits that you are experiencing!  Better sleep?  Reduced joint pain / inflammation? Better hormone / mood stability?  Stronger immune system?  Picky eaters or kids participating?  We want to hear about all of it.  Here’s how you can be a part of the Longevity Greening Project Facebook community:

  • First, make sure that you “like” Longevity Health Center’s Facebook page.
  • Post your daily experiences on your Facebook page, tagging Longevity Health Center.  Include any photos or videos that you would like to share.  Include #LongevityGreeningProject
  • Post on Longevity Health Center’s Facebook page.  Include any photos or videos that you would like to share.  Include #LongevityGreeningProject