Pumpkin,Recipe,Saturated fat,Pumpkin pie,Maple syrup,Foodservice,Beta-Carotene,Pumpkin Spice Latte,Lauric acid,Convenien

Recipe for Health: Pumpkin hits spot

October 17, 2016

It’s funny how we get obsessed with pumpkin at this time of year. I wonder about that sometimes, since this is a relatively new phenomenon. When I was growing up, admittedly a number of decades ago, one bought pumpkins for carving a jack-o-lantern faces, to put out on Halloween night. A can of pumpkin might have been added to the grocery cart in preparation for the making of a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert. But that was it. There certainly were no pumpkin spice lattes or pumpkin soup recipes. People didn’t think to be “gaga” for pumpkin.

Times have changed though. Maybe the pumpkin growers got savvy and hired great marketers, or maybe our palates have changed, or maybe we are more interested in food with great nutrition. Whatever the reason, pumpkin’s popularity has grown tremendously. Some suggest it was Starbucks, and their introduction of the now-famous pumpkin spice latte in 2003, which fueled the growth of all things pumpkin. Nielsen data shows that total sales of pumpkin-flavored food in supermarkets and convenience stores increased about 80 percent from 2011 to 2015. Pumpkin-flavored yogurt and cereal have also made big gains in recent years. Restaurants are getting in on the act too. Data from Mintel Menu Insights, a company providing market research about food service and menus, find that pumpkin as a flavor on restaurant menus has gone up 21 percent from 2012 to 2015, including items like salad dressing and dips, as well as dessert items.

Pumpkin is not only versatile and tasty, but it is quite nutritious too. The bright orange flesh is a giveaway that it includes high amounts of beta carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A in our bodies, as needed. In fact, just a half-cup serving includes three times the beta carotene needed to hit the mark for the recommended daily amount of vitamin A prescribed for adults. In addition to being made into vitamin A, beta carotene may also offer its own protection against certain types of cancer. And pumpkin is low in calories too, at only 40 per half-cup.

Coconut and pumpkin seem to be good mates in recipes, and this one is no exception. You might be concerned about the higher amount of saturated fat in these muffins, which comes mainly from the coconut oil. While it is prudent not to go overboard with the inclusion of saturated fats in our diet, the saturated fat in coconuts comes primarily in the in the form of lauric acid. Some studies show lauric acid to be less atherogenic than other saturated fatty acids, while others suggest it may even act as an anti-viral and anti-microbial substance, helping the body’s immune system do its job. Small amounts of this saturated fatty acid, within an overall healthful diet, don’t seem to cause great concern for health.

These muffins go together quickly, with all the ingredients ending up in one bowl, then divvied up into the 10 muffin cups. It would be an easy recipe to make with kids or to whip up for a quick breakfast one morning. The coconut oil, with its subtle coconut flavor and sweetness, complements the maple syrup, pumpkin and spices well, making this muffin a satisfying bite during these pumpkin-crazed months. They are equally great with a cup of coffee, a warm mug of tea, or a cold glass of milk. Like most muffins, they freeze well and microwave quickly, so leftovers can easily be tucked away for another time.

Megan Murphy is a Tennessee-licensed registered dietitian and associate professor of nutrition at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Call 277-3062, fax 529-2787, e-mail Meganmyrd@aol.com

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

Makes 10 muffins.

INGREDIENTS

Cooking spray

1/3 cup melted coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil

½ cup maple syrup or honey

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup pumpkin puree

¼ cup milk of choice, such as almond milk or 1% milk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves

1¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour or regular whole wheat flour

1/3 cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, grease 10 cups of your muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray (if your pan is nonstick, you may not need this).

2. In a large bowl, beat the oil and maple syrup or honey together with a whisk. Add eggs, and beat well. Mix in the pumpkin puree and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice or cloves.

3. Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the ten muffin cups. For these muffins, it’s OK to fill the cups a little higher than you normally would. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats, followed by a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake muffins for 23 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

5. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack. These muffins are delicate until they cool down, so it’s best to wait until they have cooled down to remove them from the tin. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy muffins as is, or with a spread of nut butter or regular butter.

Per muffin: 238 calories, 10 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 33 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4.5 g protein, 258 mg sodium.

Source: cookieandkate.com

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