Shredding? Give your body the taste you crave with plenty of protein—and without tons of carbs and calories.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD 1 / 11
This fall favorite may be better known for making Jack O' Lanterns, but pumpkin tastes darn good in a lot of healthy fare, too. Although making your own pumpkin puree takes time and effort, you can purchase 100-percent pure pumpkin puree at your local grocery store (Libby’s is one of the more popular brands and pumpkin is the only ingredient.) This is different from the pumpkin pie filling, which is brimming with sugar—so forgo those cans.
Speaking of which: Stock up now on that canned pumpkin. Pumpkin crops could be down by as much as a third for the 2015 harvest, according to crop experts in Illinois. There should be enough to go around, but Libby's is advising customers that once the 2015 stock of canned puree is tucked away in pantries before Turkey Day, there won't be any extra until the 2016 crop arrives.
Pumpkins are a type of squash and—weird fact—are related to watermelon and cucumbers. Though it's not an ingredient on our 21-Day Shred grocery list, it is a great item to mix in for some variety; It's low in calories, fat, carbs—and packed with flavor and fiber. One half cup of pumpkin puree contains 50 calories, 0.5 grams of total fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber. It also has a bit of protein and twice the daily recommended amount of the antioxidant vitamin A. This orange-hued fruit—yes, it's a fruit—also contains the antioxidant lutein, thought to help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (a loss of vision as you age.) Lutein has also been linked with heart health, helping to prevent plaque build-up in the arteries.
Enjoy all the health benefits of pumpkin in these 10 creative and healthy recipes that are brimming with what your body needs to help keep you trim and fit. And for the full 21-Day Shred fitness and eating plan, download the blueprint to the perfect body.
Overnight Pumpkin Vanilla Oatmeal
Toss these wholesome ingredients in a bowl, stick it in the fridge, and you have delicious breakfast waiting for you when you wake up. This bowl of goodness has 11 grams of protein and close to 30-percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 1 Start to Finish: 10 minutes, plus refrigeration time Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 0 minutes
Ingredients: ½ cup quick oats ⅔ cup vanilla almond milk ¼ cup pumpkin puree 1 tablespoon ground flax meal 1 tablespoon maple syrup ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Toppings: 1 tablespoon chopped pecans ¼ cup vanilla yogurt
Instructions: 1. In a mason jar, layer the oats, almond milk, pumpkin puree, flaxmeal, syrup, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator overnight. 2. Serve with chopped pecans and vanilla yogurt.
Nutrition Information (per serving) Calories: 384; Total Fat: 11.9 grams; Protein: 11 grams: Carbohydrates: 9.8 grams; Fiber: 9.8 grams
Ingredients: 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds 1 garlic clove 1 (15-oz) can reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed & drained 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 2 tablespoons water 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions: 1. Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat. 2. Add all ingredients but about 1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 20 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth, stirring a few times throughout processing to make sure everything is completely smooth. 3. Taste and season as needed. 4. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with reserved teaspoon of toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with fresh veggies. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information (per ¼ cup serving) Calories: 106; Total Fat: 6.4 grams; Saturated Fat: 0.8 grams; Protein: 4 grams: Carbohydrates: 8.9 grams; Fiber: 2.5 grams
Recipe and photo by Meme Inge, MS, RDN, LDN of Living Well Kitchen.
This risotto is made with brown rice, so you can get lots of whole grains with only 4 grams of sugar per serving. You can also make the risotto gluten-free by choosing a gluten-free stock like Pacific Natural Foods.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoons canola oil 1 small sweet onion, finely chopped 1 cup uncooked brown rice, short grain 1 cup canned pumpkin 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock ¼ teaspoon dried thyme 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Instructions: 1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil and gently cook onions until softened, about 8 minutes. 2. Add rice and heat until fragrant, stirring often to prevent scorching. 3. Add pumpkin, broth, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover pot and cook for 45 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking as needed. 4. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley. Fluff with a fork to combine
Chia is a seed that works well in puddings. One tablespoon contains 55 calories, 2 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. It also contains several important minerals including calcium, potassium, and iron.
If you like a thick pudding, start with less milk and then add more to get it the consistency you desire.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 2 Start to Finish: 10 minutes, plus refrigeration time Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 0 minutes
Ingredients: 2 scoops whey protein (I like Formulx Vanilla Natural Recovery) 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk ½ tablespoon honey 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice ½ cup pumpkin puree ¼ cup chia seeds
Instructions: 1. Whisk together whey protein, milk, honey, and pumpkin pie spice. 2. Add in puree and whisk until completely smooth. 3. Add in chia seeds and whisk until well combined. 4. Let chill in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours. 5. Add more milk and honey (or desired sweetener) if it isn’t sweet enough for you and toppings like dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds if desired!
Nutrition Information (per serving) Calories: 273; Total Fat: 9.4 grams; Protein: 26.2 grams: Carbohydrates: 20.9 grams; Fiber: 9.8 grams
This member of the winter squash family has a bright exterior and stringy light yellow-white pulp that resemble thin noodles once cooked. One cup of the stringy squash contains 40 calories, 2 grams of fiber and 10-percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C. It’s also become a very popular pasta replacement touted for its low sugar content. So go ahead, dig in!
Ingredients: 1½ cups of canned pumpkin puree 2 small roma tomatoes, chopped ½ small yellow onion, chopped 3-5 garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon light butter 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon sage 1½ teaspoons oregano ½ teaspoon basil ¼ teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon chipotle hot sauce ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk 1 medium spaghetti squash 2 chicken sausages ¼ cup of part-skim mozzarella cheese
Instructions: 1. Prepare your spaghetti squash. Either bake in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes, or nuke in the microwave for 5-10 minutes after you cut in half and take out the seeds! 2. For the pasta sauce: Place butter in saucepan and begin to melt slowly over medium heat. 3. Combine tomatoes, onions and garlic and stir until tomatoes become tender (about 8-10 minutes). 4. Continue stirring, turn stove top to low and add in pumpkin, milk, spices and chopped chicken sausage. 5. Cover and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. 6. Shred spaghetti squash and pour sauce over the top. 7. Garnish with mozzarella cheese and enjoy!
Ingredients: 3 tablespoons cooked (or canned pumpkin) 1 fresh medium orange, peeled, quartered ¼ cup orange juice ½ cup soy or almond milk ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 1 teaspoon maple syrup 1 tablespoon flaxseeds 2 ice cubes
Instructions: 1. Place all ingredients in a blender and process for 2 minutes, until very smooth and creamy. 2. Pour into 2 glasses.
This high protein, high fiber chili makes a great weeknight meal. Cook a double batch on the weekend and freeze into smaller containers for later. If you’re looking to up the protein and fiber even more, add an additional can of black or red kidney beans.
Ingredients: 1 cup uncooked quinoa 1 cup chopped onion 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 pound ground turkey 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper 3 cups crushed tomatoes 1 cup water or chicken or turkey stock 1 can (15-ounces) pumpkin puree 2 teaspoons smoky paprika 1 tablespoon chili powder 2 teaspoons cumin 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice 1 cup chopped carrots 1 cup chopped zucchini and/or green pepper 1 cup chopped celery 1 can (15-ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained (optional) Fresh cilantro, green onion and pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)
Instructions: 1. Cook the quinoa in 2 cups boiling water until water is absorbed and quinoa is soft and fluffy. 2. In a large stock pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender and translucent. 3. Add the ground turkey (breaking it up into bite-sized chunks) and sauté with the salt and pepper until mostly brown on the outside (it's ok if it's still partly pink). 4. Add the crushed tomatoes, water and pumpkin and stir a few times to incorporate, then stir in the spices. 5. Finally, stir in the veggies, cooked quinoa and (if using) black beans, and simmer for 10-20 more minutes, until the vegetables are tender. 6. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro, green onion and pumpkin seeds.
There’s no-cooking required in these pumpkin flavored energy-filled snack balls. Filled with so many good-for-you ingredients, have a few for a filling mid-day snack.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 18 Start to Finish: 15 minutes, plus freezer time Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 0 minutes
Ingredients: ½ cup pumpkin seeds (shelled) ½ cup sunflower seeds 1 tablespoon chia seeds ½ cup almonds ½ cup pumpkin puree 1 cup chopped and pitted dates ½ cup rolled oats 1 teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon ginger
Instructions: 1. Put the nuts and seeds in a food processor or high-powered blender and pulse several times to chop. Pour into a bowl and set aside. 2. Put the remaining ingredients in the food processor and process to chop and mix well. 3. Add the nut mixture and pulse several times until well combined. 4. Scoop mixture onto large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up and squeeze to form large ball. Freeze for 30-60 minutes. 5. Remove from freezer and roll into bite-sized balls. 6. Store extra energy balls in the freezer.
This warming soup is perfect for when the weather is changing. Instead of using the canned puree, it uses both a pumpkin and a squash. It’s a nice nutrient-filled soup perfect to impress your friends or during the holiday season.
Ingredients: 1 sugar pumpkin, about 4 pounds 1 delicata squash 1 apple (granny smith, honey crisp and gala are good for this), peeled, seeded chopped 1 bulb fennel, chopped 1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped 3 carrots, peeled and diced 4-5 sprigs of thyme, tied together with kitchen string 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 teaspoon cumin powder 1 tablespoon curry powder 8 cups vegetable broth 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 orange, juiced Salt and pepper to taste
Optional Garnishes: Croutons Crostini Pepitas Drizzle of walnut or hazelnut oil Fresh cilantro leaves Shaved coconut Drizzle of maple syrup Oyster crackers
Instructions: 1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a large baking sheet. 2. Cut the pumpkin in half, vertically and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rub the cut sides of pumpkin and squash with two tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the pumpkin and squash cut side down onto the baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove the squash (it should be tender by now) and let it cool. Continue roasting the pumpkin for another 20-30 minutes, until flesh is tender. Let cool to room temperature. 3. Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped apple, fennel, onion, carrot and thyme. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt. Cook 4-5 minutes until vegetables are slightly softened. Add the cumin and curry powder, stir and cook an additional minute until the vegetables are fragrant with spices. Add 4 cups vegetable broth and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. 4. Scoop the flesh from the squash and pumpkin and add it to the broth. Add remaining 4 cups of broth and maple syrup and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. 5. Working in batches, ladle the broth and vegetables into a blender. Fit the lid tightly on the blender and place a dish towel over the lid (that's just in case -- to catch any soup that decides to escape -- it's happened to me before!). Puree the soup until creamy and smooth. Pour into a large pot or bowl and continue to blend the remaining soup. 6. Stir in the juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 7. Heat to serve.
Nutrition Information (per serving, not including optional ingredients) Calories: 200; Total Fat: 7 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Protein: 3 grams: Carbohydrates: 35 grams; Fiber: 3 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 733 milligrams
These decadent-looking bars contain 9 grams of healthy fat, 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and only 4 grams of sugar each. For about 130 calories a bar, pair it up with Greek yogurt or nuts for a snack or enjoy as dessert.
Ingredients: ¾ cup creamy almond butter ½ cup pumpkin puree 1 overripe medium banana ¼ cup pure maple syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon coconut flour 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt ⅓ cup chocolate chips and/or walnuts, optional
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8x8in square baking dish with cooking spray. 2. Place almond butter, pumpkin, banana, maple syrup, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir until well-combined. 3. Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until smooth. 4. Pour into prepared baking dish, smoothing with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.