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The Power of Pumpkin

The Power of Pumpkin: Thinking past the pie

It’s how you know fall is upon us, and it revolves around that first smell of Pumpkin Latte. It’s when you revel in the crunching of leaves, the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg, the chili, the touchdowns, the boots and scarves, the shortening days and crisp mornings. It’s when you share recipes for pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin martinis and pumpkin s’mores and pumpkin-scented underwear drawer potpourri.

If there is one thing it is nearly impossible for any American to avoid this time of year, its pumpkins. This is the time of year when it becomes iconic. Between Halloween, harvest decorations, and Thanksgiving pie, it’s the season’s symbol. But this round squash derivative holds much more value than spooking neighborhood kids or spicing your latte.  From seeds to the rind, pumpkins are not only a delicious treat but a healthy one too.

The rest of the year, pumpkins tend to take a backseat. We forget about the brightly colored squash after the last slice of pumpkin pie is gone and the jack’o lanterns turn into mush on the front porch.

But maybe we shouldn’t… The pumpkin has a lot of incredible natural health benefits, and it’s good for much more than just pie.

Pumpkin’s health benefits:

  • The seasonal fall favorite is one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant (also responsible for the orange color) which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
  • One cup of cooked pumpkin will deliver 100% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A which assists in good vision, fertility, and hormone production.
  • Pumpkin is also great to eat for lowering blood pressure and protecting overall health because it contains fiber, vitamin C, and potassium which all support heart health and boost immunity.
  • Don’t forget the seeds! They are packed with protein, iron, zinc, and magnesium.

Try these pumpkin recipes to get thinking past the pie:

Seeds: Scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin’s pulp, rinse in a colander under cold water, lay them on parchment paper to dry for 10 minutes, and roast at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes. The Food Network suggests coating them with some oil and salt, or cayenne and smoked paprika, or cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. You really can’t go wrong! (recipes here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/reinvented-pumpkin-seeds-5-ways.html) The toasted seeds can also be chopped and added to any salad for some extra crunch.

Puree: Use the pumpkin pulp to make your own puree in a food processor or blender.  This is not only an easy, cost-effective option, it also means you don’t need canned pumpkin – which, like most canned foods, is unfortunately lined with bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that has been linked to reproductive disorders, heart disease, and diabetes, and other health problems.

Skin: Rather than discard the pumpkin skin, turn it into a crispy, chip-like treat. After scrubbing it well, cut the skin off the pumpkin in long, thin slices. Toss with kosher salt and a little bit of olive oil, then bake for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees. (recipe here: http://www.homegrownfun.com/how-to-make-pumpkin-crisps-fries-roasted-seeds-and-smores/) voila! It prevents any part of the pumpkin from going to waste, plus pumpkin skin contains antibacterial properties that may help keep yeast infections at bay in children and adults.

Speaking of skin – pumpkin is well-regarded for its ability to prevent wrinkles and age spots. Make a pumpkin face mask by whisking a quarter-cup of pumpkin puree with a whole egg. If you have dry skin, add some honey. For oily skin, mix in some apple cider or cranberry juice. Spread this sweet-smelling potion on your face, kick back and relax for 20 minutes, then wash off and enjoy your soft, smooth complexion. (recipe for face mask here:http://www.popsugar.com/beauty/Homemade-Pumpkin-Mask-Recipe-5452160)

Pumpkin’s skin benefits:

  • Pumpkin is packed with fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which increase cell turnover, to brighten and smooth the skin.
  • Pumpkin contains antioxidant Vitamin A and Vitamin C to help soften and soothe the skin and boost collagen production to prevent the signs of aging.
  • Zinc in pumpkin seeds is brilliant for acne sufferers. Zinc will help control the hormone level and oil production, as well as assist with healing of the skin.
  • Pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and Vitamin E, which are necessary to maintain good barrier function of the skin. They also regulate sebum, great for an oily skin.
  • The molecular structure of pumpkin is small and therefore can penetrate deeper into the skin when used topically. This is amazing for treating a dull complexion, aging skin and pigmentation.

Many spas, including Dolce Vita Wellness Spa in Reno, offer a pumpkin peel or masque treatment for the season to keep skin looking great. Try our Pumpkin Facial Refresh using Eminence Organic Yam & Pumpkin Peel and a Pumpkin Latte Hydration Masque.  For the best results this season, it’s simple – target skin with products containing pumpkin! Learn more about Dolce Vita’s Facial Services.

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