Surprising Superfood
By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, and Jeannette Bessinger, CHHC
Holiday-favorite pumpkins boast unexpected health benefits

pumpkin hummusWe never seem to notice the pumpkin until holiday time, but really, we should. It’s a high-fiber, low-calorie food that’s loaded with nutrients such as vitamin A. Plus, it’s one of the few exceptions to the rule that canned fruits and vegetables are never any good (another exception being pineapple).

If you’re looking for a high-fiber snack that’s perfect any time of year, just try mixing that fabulous pumpkin with some great northern beans for a delicious pumpkin hummus. To add a bit of holiday flare, Chef Jeannette took that classic mixture (from our book The Healthiest Fifteen Minute Recipes on Earth) and updated it with seasonal cranberries and oranges.

In addition to the oranges’ beneficial boost of vitamin C, cranberries offer a bevy of antioxidants. According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, cranberries have been shown to contain more antioxidant phenols than 19 other commonly eaten fruits. And emerging research suggests that cranberries contain compounds that may offer a natural defense against atherosclerosis and protect the brain against free radical damage and loss of cognitive function.

Put it all together with the pumpkin, and you’ve got an easy-to-make, super-nutritious dip that’s perfect for holiday entertaining.

Notes from Chef Jeannette

For an even fresher-tasting, more nutrient-rich hummus, make your own pumpkin purée. Pick up a 3- to 4-pound sugar pumpkin. Using a sharp cleaver or chef's knife, remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Using a sharp chef's knife, cut away the peels and discard.

Cut the pumpkin flesh into chunks, place in a slow cooker, and pour ¼ cup of water or apple cider into the bottom. Cook on low for 5—7 hours, until soft. Mash with a potato masher or purée with an immersion blender. Allow to cool, and serve. Yield: 2—3 cups purée.

For an additional snack, keep the seeds you scooped out of the pumpkin, and clean and roast them.

Cran-Orange Pumpkin Hummus
Serves 12

1 15-oz. can great northern beans, drained

1 15-oz. can pumpkin purée, unsweetened

3 Tbs. tahini

¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. orange zest

1 tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. allspice

½ tsp. salt

¼ cup juice-sweetened dried cranberries

Process beans in food processor until nearly smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.

Add pumpkin, tahini, orange juice, cider vinegar, zest, cumin, allspice, and salt, and process until smooth, scraping down sides periodically. Stir in cranberries, and serve with vegetable crudités or sliced fruit on the side.

PER SERVING: 67 CAL; 3 G PROT; 2 G TOTAL FAT (<1 G SAT FAT); 11 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 183 MG SOD; 3 G FIBER; 4 G SUGARS




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