You see pumpkin treats and foods at most grocery stores, bakeries, and coffee shops this time of year. So why not take advantage and boost your meals and snacks with the health benefits of pumpkin? This fruit offers valuable recovery-enhancing nutrients, including complex carbs and a rich source of vitamin A.

In fact, pumpkin packs 706 micrograms of vitamin A per 1 cup mashed, which is the equivalent to about 78% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for men, ages 19 and older, and about 100% of the RDA for women, ages 19 and older. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and a potent antioxidant, which helps to fight free radicals in the body. It also supports the immune system and fights off inflammatory-related diseases.

Researchers who published a study in 2020 in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Dermatology investigated the effects of vitamin A in the diet on risk for skin cancer. The data came from the Nurses’ Health Study which contained food records from 75,170 women nurses and 48,400 men nurses in their 50s. The researchers found that higher vitamin A in their diets was significantly associated with decreased cases of skin cancer. This is particularly relevant for runners who spend long hours outside in direct sunlight, under UV rays, which can put you at risk for skin cancer development.

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In addition to vitamin A, pumpkin also offers those coveted complex carbohydrates that keep your body and brain energized for miles, so it serves a good go-to for pre or postrun fuel.

5 Delicious and Easy Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin is pretty versatile. Try it in these sweet and savory recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, recovery snacks, and midrun foods.

1. Pumpkin Pie Breakfast or Recovery Smoothie

pumpkin recipes
Thomas Hengge

The coconut oil in this pumpkin recipe enhances your gut’s ability to absorb vitamin A, while the Greek yogurt, milk, banana, and maple syrup help to replenish glycogen (stored carbohydrates) and stimulate muscle protein synthesis after a ride.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup canned or roasted pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. If you’re roasting the pumpkin, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the top off the pumpkin, then cut the pumpkin in half. Next, scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Spray the pumpkin flesh with a thin layer of oil, lightly sprinkle salt over the flesh, and place face-up on a cookie sheet. Cover the pumpkin flesh in foil. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast for 30-60 minutes until tender. Check the tenderness of the pumpkin by stabbing it with a knife. When tender, remove from oven, let cool, and remove skin with your hands. Store the roasted pumpkin in the fridge for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
  2. Place the milk in the blender first, and then all other ingredients. Blend until desired consistency. Add more milk or water if you like a thinner consistency.

Servings per recipe: 1

Notes: You can sub in roasted butternut squash or acorn squash for pumpkin. Microwaved or roasted sweet potatoes also work as great substitutes for pumpkin. In the fall, roast a bunch of squash ahead of time and throw in smoothies all week long.


2. The Laziest Pumpkin Lunch

pumpkin recipes
Thomas Hengge

This throw-together meal balances carbs, fat, and protein-rich foods made with ingredients you probably have on hand. The roasted pumpkin contains valuable starches, the Greek yogurt contains high-quality protein, the avocado contains healthy fats, and the salsa and greens add to your veggie tally for the day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin (or other squash)
  • 1 handful greens
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup salsa
  • ½ avocado, pitted, scooped, and sliced

Instructions:

  1. To roast the pumpkin, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the top off the pumpkin, then cut the pumpkin in half. Next, scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Spray the pumpkin flesh with a thin layer of oil, lightly sprinkle salt over the flesh, and place face-up on a cookie sheet. Cover the pumpkin flesh in foil. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast for 30-60 minutes until tender. Check the tenderness of the pumpkin by stabbing it with a knife. When tender, remove from oven, let cool, and remove skin with your hands. Store the roasted pumpkin in the fridge for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
  2. Place the handful of greens on a plate or in a bowl.
  3. Place 1 cup roasted pumpkin on top of the bed of greens. Top with Greek yogurt, salsa, and avocado.

Servings per recipe: 1

Notes: This is a great meal if you are in a hurry and need to make a quick lunch, postrun meal, or dinner. If you don’t have pumpkin, microwaved or roasted sweet potatoes are a great substitute. This recipe does not work well with canned pumpkin. However, you can easily substitute roasted butternut squash or acorn squash. Choose any kind of salsa you like. Try some of the chunkier fresh salsas found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.


3. Pumpkin Pancakes

pumpkin recipes
Thomas Hengge

Start your day off with a healthy meal that feels indulgent. The fat in the eggs helps to boost the absorption of the valuable vitamin A in the pumpkin and egg yolk.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups canned or roasted pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon (optional)
  • Cooking oil spray
  • All-purpose flour as needed

Instructions:

  1. If you’re roasting the pumpkin, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the top off the pumpkin, then cut the pumpkin in half. Next, scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Spray the pumpkin flesh with a thin layer of oil, lightly sprinkle salt over the flesh, and place face-up on a cookie sheet. Cover the pumpkin flesh in foil. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast for 30-60 minutes until tender. Check the tenderness of the pumpkin by stabbing it with a knife. When tender, remove from oven, let cool, and remove skin with your hands. Store the roasted pumpkin in the fridge for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
  2. Combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth with elbow grease (mixing with a spoon or fork until even consistency) or in a food processor. If you’re using canned pumpkin, you likely won’t need to mix much. If the batter isn’t holding together well, add small handfuls of flour gradually until it’s the consistency of slightly thicker than regular pancake batter.
  3. Heat up a sauté pan or heavy-bottomed skillet to medium high heat. Once heated, spray a thin layer of oil in the pan.
  4. Form batter into 3-inch diameter and ¼-inch thickness discs (pancake shape) and place in pan. A ¼ cup pancake ‘batter’ should cook all the way through in 3 minutes or so per side.

Servings per recipe: 2

Notes: Top with maple syrup, apple sauce, nut butter, honey, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese. If you are eating these close to the start of a hard run, limit the nut butter, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. If you have a few hours before exercising, add these fat and protein-rich toppings to make a more complete meal.


4. Pumpkin Energy Bites

pumpkin recipes
Thomas Hengge

Eat these nutrient-dense bites before your long run. They contain a mix of low- and high-glycemic index carbohydrate-rich foods to provide sustained energy during your miles.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roasted or canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup instant oatmeal
  • ¼ cup chopped dried apricot
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon dried ginger (optional)

Instructions:

  1. If you’re roasting the pumpkin, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the top off the pumpkin, then cut the pumpkin in half. Next, scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Spray the pumpkin flesh with a thin layer of oil, lightly sprinkle salt over the flesh, and place face-up on a cookie sheet. Cover the pumpkin flesh in foil. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast for 30-60 minutes until tender. Check the tenderness of the pumpkin by stabbing it with a knife. When tender, remove from oven, let cool, and remove skin with your hands. Store the roasted pumpkin in the fridge for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. If the mixture is too gooey to form into a round shape with your hands, add more instant oats. It should be playdough consistency.
  3. Form mixture into bite-size pieces, 1-inch diameter balls or discs.
  4. Place on a baking tray and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 20 minutes until not gooey in the middle. Poke with a toothpick or small sharp knife. If the toothpick or sharp knife come out clean, they are done.

Servings per recipe: 10

Notes: Refrigerate and eat up to 7 days. Freeze and keep them even longer. If freezing, store in a double bagged, air-tight bag. If storing in the fridge, store in an air-tight container.


5. Easy Pumpkin Soup

pumpkin recipes for cyclists september 2022
Thomas Hengge

When enjoying this soup after a run, the sodium in the salt and vegetable broth helps to replenish electrolyte losses from sweat, the carbs in the pumpkin restore glycogen, and the protein in the Greek yogurt stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups roasted pumpkin (or 1, 15-oz can canned pumpkin)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • For topping (optional): roasted pumpkin seeds, fresh thyme, fresh cilantro, fresh parsley

Instructions:

  1. If you’re roasting the pumpkin, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the top off the pumpkin, then cut the pumpkin in half. Next, scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Spray the pumpkin flesh with a thin layer of oil, lightly sprinkle salt over the flesh, and place face-up on a cookie sheet. Cover the pumpkin flesh in foil. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast for 30-60 minutes until tender. Check the tenderness of the pumpkin by stabbing it with a knife. When tender, remove from oven, let cool, and remove skin with your hands. Store the roasted pumpkin in the fridge for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
  2. Heat up a medium-sized pot to medium high heat. Add the safflower oil. When the safflower oil is shimmering, add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions become translucent and slightly brown on the edges.
  3. Next, add the pumpkin, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth, and stir often, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Remove the pot from the burner and stir in the maple syrup, and coconut oil.
  6. If you’d like a creamier consistency for the soup, use an immersion blender and blend until it is the consistency you want.
  7. Serve with any garnishes you choose.

Servings per recipe: 2-4

Notes: On cold weather days, this soup makes a comforting and nutritionally optimal recovery food when paired with Greek yogurt on top. This also goes great as a side to a protein-topped salad at lunch or a main course at dinner.

All recipes provided by author, Kristen Arnold, RD.

From: Bicycling US
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