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Pumpkin for healthier living this Thanksgiving

Maureen Lamerdin, O.M.D.
Pumpkin tower
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

The transition from fall to winter is upon us, and with it brings Thanksgiving, a time for giving thanks to all who make a difference around us and giving to people who are in need. Why not give a gift of health to your loved ones with some delicious and healthy pumpkin recipes?

In Chinese medicine, the fall is linked to the lungs and large intestine. It’s a time of being inspired and also of letting go. Many of us tend to feel a bit “thin skinned,” or physically and emotionally sensitive, at this time. Our lungs may feel more delicate or sensitive with the dry air and the allergens blowing about. This can create a breeding ground for infections with the production and accumulation of mucous that irritates our respiratory system.

According to Paul Pitchford of Healing with Whole Foods, pumpkin can dry excess fluids, helping to resolve phlegm from the lungs, which is a common part of the problem in asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and sinus infections. Pumpkin seeds are excellent for moistening the bowels relieving constipation and for resolving dry skin issues including eczema. Pumpkin seeds are also good for reducing inflammation in conditions like prostatitis and arthritis because they are high in antioxidants.

Here are some recipes to help the healing process and prevent becoming sick so you may fully enjoy your holiday festivities!

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

You will need raw pumpkin seeds, sea salt and olive oil or butter. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Clean and dry pumpkin seeds. Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the melted butter or olive oil and sea salt. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

PUMPKIN CHAI SMOOTHIE

Ingredients

1 cup greek yogurt

3/4 cup canned pumpkin, chilled

1/2 cup ice cubes

1/3 cup almond milk

1 chai tea bag

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 ripe banana, sliced and frozen, or 4 dates

Dash of ground cloves

Dash of ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds, ground

Instructions

Warm the milk, steep the tea bag for five minutes, and add honey (the mixture recipe can be made in advance and left in the fridge). Add all ingredients and blend until smooth.

EASY PUMPKIN PIE WITH SPICED WHIPPED CREAM

For the pie crust:

1 frozen 9-inch deep-dish pie crust, thawed, pierced all over with fork

For the filling:

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 large eggs

For the whipped topping:

3/4 cup chilled whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Reshape the crust’s edge to form a high standing rim. Bake the crust until browned, about 14 minutes, pressing bottom and sides of crust occasionally with back of fork. Cool crust on a rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Whisk pumpkin, condensed milk, sour cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, vanilla, and allspice in large bowl to blend. Whisk in the eggs. Pour the mixture into the crust (some filling may be left over).

Bake the pie until the filling is puffed around the sides and set in the center, about 55 minutes. Cool the pie on a rack.

Beat whipping cream, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in a bowl until peaks form. Spoon large dollops around edge of pie, and serve.