Pumpkin – The Medicine On Your Plate
In the fall, our energy starts to turn inwards as we prepare ourselves for winter. During this season, things start to dry up, leaves dry and fall of the trees, grass or other plants start to wither and dry up to shut down for the dormancy of winter so that recourses are strong for the next spring season. Our human bodies are no different.
At this time of the year, it’s not uncommon for me to see a lot of people walking through the clinic door with dry coughs, dry skin, dry eyes or a general loss of that plump, hydrated feel that accompanies the more humid weather of summer.
Luckily, nature has a wonderful way of giving us what we need to balance out the elements in the various seasons.
Foods naturally grown in the fall or late summer (pears, zucchini, pumpkin and the whole squash family) tend to have a moistening component to them. When those of you who are on the dry side or just noticing the change of seasons are able to eat some of these on a regular basis, it can work wonders to help rebalance your body… from the inside out!
Pumpkin is great roasted, made into soups or stews or turned into some cozy baking fare including the beloved pumpkin pie or the pumpkin spice loaf listed below.
Pumpkin (and other winter Squash) are a great source of fiber, b vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and potassium. Research has shown that there are is a compound in Asian pumpkins that actually improve insulin levels in the body and lowers blood sugar and is one of the foods we highlight in Traditional Chinese Medicine for those with diabetes!
In Chinese Medicine, describe food as not only having nutritional values (the vitamins and minerals listed above), but also properties. It’s when we balance an individuals inner body patterns (hot, cold, dry, damp etc.) with the foods that will help to balance them out (cool foods for the warm person, moist foods for the dry person etc.), then we can invite a deep level of healing into the everyday life.
Pumpkin is considered sweet which means it is moistening and also slightly warm which means it is good for the colder person or to consume in the colder months of the years. It works on the spleen/stomach/pancreas system in TCM which means it is good to strengthen the Qi or energy of the digestive system.
All round, a great dinner time addition during the fall and winter months!
Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf
Gluten-free, high in healthy fats and nutrient dense, this makes a wonderful healthy winter snack!
Cooking time: 50-60 mins (until inserted knife comes out clean)
The ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg are naturally warming spices to help keep you cozy on the inside as the weather turns cooler. Quinoa flour is gluten free and higher in protein and calcium than other flours. The flax seed offers some protein, omega 3’s, fibre, has anti-cancer properties and helps regulate hormones. Coconut oil is a healthy oil rich in omega’s that just happens to be anti fungal and anti bacteria which helps our resistance to illness, helps balance blood sugar AND it helps with reducing cholesterol. Coconut sugar and maple sugar both contain more vitamins and minerals than refined sugar making this a wonderful nutrient dense healthy snack alternative. And mixed all together baking– the house smells amazing!
1 1/2 cups quinoa flour
1 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup ground flax
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
3/4 cup hot water
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup maple syrup
Directions: combine all dry ingredients into bowl and wisk together. Make a whole in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add all the wet ingredients and blend together (don’t over mix).
Pour into loaf pan (greased and floured) and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.