Wellness Wednesday…Pumpkin Season is HERE!

It’s November, and everything is pumpkin! Pumpkin pancakes are the special at every breakfast place, pumpkin-pie blizzards are now available at Dairy Queen, and I even saw pumpkin-flavored cheerios at the grocery store. It seems like people can’t get enough pumpkin this time of year.


While many of these special pumpkin treats are loaded with extra sugar and calories, pumpkin is actually quite healthy for you. That bright orange color tells us something about pumpkin’s health properties. It’s an excellent source of beta carotene which is a pretty powerful antioxidant. Our bodies translate beta carotene into Vitamin A, which is known to protect us from certain cancers and other diseases. Vitamin A also plays a key role in eyesight, especially seeing in the dark!

Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. The seeds, too, are loaded with nutrients. The seeds are packed with fiber and protein and are an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, and monosaturated fat.

Today, as November is just getting started, let’s look at some healthy pumpkin recipes that you can enjoy without putting on any pre-holiday weight.


Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

If you typically have a smoothie for breakfast, try this version for a special November treat. I suggest adding a scoop of vanilla protein to boost your morning intake of protein. Or, if you’re craving a pumpkin milkshake or ice cream, try this delicious smoothie instead. You’ll still get a sweet treat without blowing your calories for the day.

Recipe is for 2 smoothies or 1 monster size smoothie.


  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (optional)
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 1 cup ice


  • Add all of the ingredients to the blender in the order listed. Blend on high for at least 3 minutes or until smooth – this may take longer if your blender isn’t very strong. Scrape down the sides of the blender as needed.
  • Add more milk to thin out if it is too thick. Add a couple more ice cubes for a thicker texture, if desired. Add more spices to taste, if desired.
  • Enjoy this protein packed smoothie. It’s like drinkable pumpkin pie!


Crock Pot Turkey Pumpkin Chili

A perfect fall chili made with pumpkin puree, ground turkey, white beans, and more. Best of all…you can throw it in your crock pot and a warm meal will be waiting for you when you’re ready.

Recipe makes about 9, 1-cup servings.


  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 (15 oz cans) white northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree (or homemade)
  • 5 oz canned chopped green chile
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • chopped cilantro and chives for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • low fat sour cream for topping (optional)


  • Heat a large heavy saute pan over high heat and lightly spray with oil.
  • Add meat and cook, breaking it up until white. Add to crock pot.
  • Add oil to the saute pan, then onions, garlic, sauté about 3 – 4 minutes; add cumin and sauté another minute. Add to crock pot.
  • Add beans, pumpkin puree, green chilis, broth, chili powder, oregano, and bay leaves.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  • Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste before serving. Enjoy!


Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Easy, FLUFFY healthy pumpkin pancakes, made in the blender, so there’s no clean up. Simple, healthy recipe with lots of warm spices. A must make this fall!

Recipe makes 12, 5-inch pancakes.


  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or substitute 1 tablespoon lemon juice—do not omit!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

            For serving: apple or pumpkin butter, pure maple syrup, or toasted pecans


  • If desired, preheat the oven to 200 degrees to keep the pancakes warm between batches.
  • To a high-powered blender, add the buckwheat flour and pumpkin puree, then pour the milk over the top so that the flour is moistened. Add the remaining ingredients: eggs, oil, maple syrup, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, salt, and spices. Blend until combined, stopping to scrape down the blender once or twice as needed.
  • Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium low heat. Low and slow is key to cooking these pancakes to ensure that they cook through but do not burn. Don’t rush it! Lightly coat with cooking spray or a small amount of oil. Once the pan is hot, for each pancake, pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan. Let cook until the pancakes look dry at the ends, about 3 minutes (bubbles will not form on top). Flip and cook on the other side until golden, about 90 additional seconds. Serve immediately with any desired toppings or place in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

If you’re looking for a quick, on-the-go snack, try making these tasty, munch-able roasted pumpkin seeds. Make them with a little sea salt, and you’re sure to reach for these instead of those potato chips!

Size of recipe depends on the size of your pumpkin.


  • Pumpkin, with seeds inside
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt   


  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Seed the pumpkin: Using a spoon, scrape the pulp and seeds out of your pumpkin into a bowl.
  • Clean the seeds: Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp, rinse the seeds in a colander under cold water, then shake dry. Don’t blot with a paper towel – the seeds will stick.
  • Dry them: Spread the seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet and roast 30 minutes to dry them out.
  • Add spices: Toss the seeds with olive oil and sea salt. Return to the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 20 more minutes.


Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!




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