Fall is into full swing and there are many obvious signs. The weather is shifting, the leaves are starting to change color, and one of my favorite signs...squash is everywhere! For the next 3-4 months, I will undoubtedly play the game of "How many different ways I can use squash".
To set the record straight, pumpkin is a type of squash and it is a member of the cucurbit family. Cucurbit is another name for gourd. I'm sure you have heard that term used to categorize these delicious fruits. Some not so obvious members of the cucurbit family are cucumbers, watermelons, melons, and luffas. And no, I'm not talking about the sponges, although they do come from the same source. Kind of weird, huh? Luffas resemble cucumbers in their appearance and can even replace them in recipes. They are a very popular item in China and are more squash-like on the inside than a cucumber is. All of these types of cucurbits grow on vines but there are a couple of things that set the pumpkin apart. I'm sure you have noticed when you handle the stem of a pumpkin, it's a bit prickly. Ouch, right? Also, there is a hidden gem inside the pumpkin. All of those delicious seeds ready to be roasted. What a treat!
Not only do I love the flavor of pumpkin, but I appreciate the nutritional benefits that it offers. It's loaded with Vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. So when you begin your day with pumpkin, you are really off to a fabulous start. One of the many ways I enjoy pumpkin in the mornings is with a fall inspired smoothie. It's especially satisfying after a good workout. I could go on and on about how yummy this is. But I'm hoping you will have a chance to see for yourself.
Smoothies are awesome because the measurements don't need to be exact. After making hundreds of smoothies, I kind of just know how much of what ingredients to put in and basically eyeball my measurements. The only thing I really try to be accurate on though is the spices. Too much will produce an awfully strong, unpleasant flavor. Using too little will leave you underwhelmed. As far as sweetener is concerned, I wanted to give you a few options. I know many of you can't eat bananas and that is usually a staple ingredient in smoothies. So if this fits your description, you can increase your ice and use pitted dates, some pure maple syrup, or raw honey. Another thing I have done before is freeze some almond or coconut milk in ice cube trays. Then use those in your smoothie instead of plain ice. It will make things a bit creamier since you lose a bit of the creamy aspect when you omit the banana.
3/4 cup to 1 cup coconut milk (depends on your thickness preference)
3/4 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamom
pinch of cloves
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of ice ( 1 and 1/2 cups for a thicker smoothie, you can also freeze coconut milk into cubes to replace plain ice for extra creaminess)
Options for sweetener:
2-3 dates, 1 tsp maple syrup (adjust as needed), or 1/2 to 1 whole frozen banana
2 Tbs grass fed gelatin
1 Tbs chia or flax seed
1 Tbs hemp seeds
1. Place all ingredients into your high speed blender and blend until smooth.
2. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary. Add more ice or milk depending on desired consistency. Blend again if needed to account for adjustments.
3. Pour into glass. Top with chopped pecans and shredded coconut. Enjoy immediately. Makes 1 serving.