With the holidays upon us, now is a great time to plan for a healthy holiday season. And what better way to start than to savor some tasty pumpkin treats as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States and the holidays around the world!
With a natural squash-like favor (and a sweetness that’s brought out by roasting them), pumpkins pack a powerful punch, both in taste and nutrition! The potassium in pumpkins can have a positive effect on blood pressure and the antioxidants can prevent degenerative damage to the eyes.
Here are some treats you can make that will add holiday cheer, and won’t add to your waistline!
#1. Holiday share wreath with crunchy veggies and pumpkin dip
This yummy share wreath wows with its crunch and flavor. Serve on a circular platter or serving board in a wreath pattern that’s perfect for sharing. And don’t skip on the cumin in the pumpkin dip – it’s naturally good for helping to lower cholesterol levels!
- 8 cups broccoli florets
- 3 cups trimmed Brussels sprouts
- 2 cups trimmed green beans
- 1 cup sugar snap peas (strings removed)
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 9 cherry tomatoes
- 1 bunch curly kale
- 1 cup of canned or pureed pumpkin (avoid canned pumpkin pie mix with added sugars and syrups – be sure to read the label)
- 1 can of black beans (rinsed)
- ½ can of cannellini beans (rinsed)
- 1 scoop collagen powder
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 juiced lemons
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Add salt and pepper to taste
Preparing dip vegetables: Rinse all vegetables well. Boil a large pot of water, while keeping a large bowl of iced water nearby. Use the boiling water to blanch the broccoli for 1-2 minutes, then transfer it to the ice bath with a slotted spoon to cool. Drain well. Then blanch the Brussels sprouts, green beans, and snap peas using the same method. Allow vegetables to cool.
Preparing dip: Place all of the pumpkin dip vegetables into the bowl of a food processor or blender, and process until the texture is smooth. Transfer to a decorative serving bowl to place in the center of your serving platter.
Assembly: Place the kale around the edges of the platter, with the curly edges on the very outside edge of the platter or board. Arrange the broccoli florets, Brussels sprouts, green beans, snap peas and cauliflower into the form of a wreath. Garnish your creation with cherry tomatoes, arranging them so they look like clumps of red berries. This can be prepared and refrigerated a day early, so it’s ready to serve at a moment’s notice!
#2. Baked sweet potatoes with goat cheese
Instead of adding marshmallows to the usual sweet potato dish, try this healthier alternative that’s guaranteed to tickle your taste buds. The sweet potatoes alone are full of beta-carotene and other vitamins and minerals, while the goat cheese is considered healthier than cow’s milk cheese (less saturated fat and cholesterol, rich in vitamins and minerals, and healthier protein). Even the pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) offer a powerful nutritional punch, and are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs!
- 1 whole sweet potato for each person (leave unpeeled)
- Organic crumbled goat cheese
- Handful of pumpkin seeds
- Chives, freshly chopped
- Sea salt flakes
- Butter (vegan or regular)
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Place each sweet potato onto a small square-cut foil. Before wrapping loosely with the foil, place a small amount of butter (approx. ½ teaspoon) on top and sprinkle with sea salt. Place each wrapped sweet potato onto a banking tray, and bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until a knife can be easily inserted through each sweet potato.
- With oven mitts, carefully remove sweet potatoes from foil to avoid burns, and place onto a serving plate. Slit each sweet potato open and sprinkle a portion of the crumbled goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, chives and butter into each one. Serve immediately.
#3. Roasted Pumpkin and Brussels Sprouts
If you’ve never had roasted Brussels sprouts, it’s possible you haven’t really tried Brussels sprouts! A classic Christmas dish in England, the flavor and texture of Brussels sprouts is greatly improved by roasting them until they’re golden brown. They’re also full of antioxidants, anti-aging minerals, and vitamins.
- 2 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil
- 2 cups of Brussels sprouts, cut in half
- 2 cups of pumpkin peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
- Freshly chopped herbs, your choice (such as rosemary, chives, thyme, dill, oregano)
- Add freshly-ground pink salt and black pepper to taste.
- Optional: Toasted nuts and dried cranberries for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425°F (210°C), and cover a large baking sheet with baking parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the Brussels sprouts, pumpkin cubes, fresh herbs, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender (test with fork). Remove from oven and serve immediately.
#4. Dairy-free pumpkin pie
Here’s a delicious and healthy dessert that’s perfect for anyone who has given up dairy, and anyone who loves a rich pumpkin flavor! This recipe was crafted so guests won’t notice the missing dairy, and the coconut milk enhances the pumpkin spice flavor.
- 3 eggs
- Either 1 can (15 oz/425 gm) organic pumpkin puree, or 2 cups of fresh pumpkin pure (strained with fine mesh strainer to remove excess liquid)
- 1 cup coconut milk, full fat
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon clove
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- Use unbaked pre-made piecrust of your choice
- Preheat oven to 425°F (210°C). Beat eggs until creamy in large bowl. Add pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and vanilla extract, then beat until well-combined. Add sugar, salt, and spices, beat in bowl until completely combined.
- Into a dish with the pie crust, pour the pumpkin filling over the crust. Cover with foil or pastry shield to prevent burning. Bake for 15 minutes before reducing oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and baking for another 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the pie comes out clean. If the filling is still a little wiggly in the center, it will firm up as the pie cools.
- Cool pie on a wire rack for 2 hours (this part can’t be rushed). The pie can then be served, or refrigerated to serve later.
Here’s to your health and pumpkin power over the holidays!
P.S. Let me know how you enjoy these recipes in the comments below. Do you have any healthy pumpkin or sweet potato holiday recipes that you enjoy sharing with your family and loved ones? Let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you!