I was very excited when I saw that pumpkin on the list of healthiest foods, as a vegetable nonetheless! I love pumpkin all year-round, not just in the fall. My son on the other hand actually gags when we carve the pumpkin every year. When he was two and helped carve his first pumpkin, he actually threw up on the table as we were scooping out the seeds. Nice.
Now that I’ve whet your appetite….Did you know that pumpkin actually has 33% more potassium than a banana? Pumpkin is also very high in vitamin A and beta-carotene. Why should you care? Because studies have shown that increased potassium intake is associated with decreased risk of stroke and lower blood pressure. Pumpkin also contains 3,500 mcg of beta-cryptoxanthin, which can reduce the risk of lung cancer by 30%! If that wasn’t enough, one cup of pumpkin contains only 49 calories with a whopping 2 1/2 grams of fiber! Low calorie & filling….sign me up!
I made my own pumpkin butter using two fresh pumpkins. I was so proud of myself that I actually used fresh pumpkin, rather than the Libby’s canned pumpkin (although there is nothing wrong with canned vegetables). I’ll provide my healthy pumpkin butter recipe here in case you want to try it:
- Two small pie pumpkins
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 cup agave nectar (agave nectar has a lower glycemic index than sugar, so it is less likely to trigger the body’s mechanisms for fat storage. I use it as a substitute for sugar in most recipes)
First make your pumpkin puree:
- Wash the pie pumpkins and cut in half
- Scoop out the seeds
- Place the cut pumpkin in a shallow dish or bowl with 1/2 inch of water
- Cook for 15 minutes in the microwave or until the pumpkin flesh is soft enough to scoop out. It may take as long as 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your pumpkin pieces
- Scoop out the pumpkin flesh into a large glass bowl
- Puree with a hand blender until smooth
Then you are ready to make your pumpkin butter:
- Combine the pumpkin puree with the spices and agave nectar
- Place in a crockpot on low for 6-8 hours (I like to cook mine overnight)
- Place in sterilized mason jars and store in the refrigerator. You can buy a plastic funnel to help you pour the pumpkin butter into the jars without spilling, but the mixture is usually so thick that it is not necessary.
I also made labels for my pumpkin butter, which you can see from the picture, that say “Made with love from Stacy” so I can give them out as gifts.
Pumpkin butter is delicious on toast and can be used as a dip or a lower-sugar alternative on a peanut butter and pumpkin butter sandwich. It is super easy to make and delicious! Let me know if you try out the recipe!