Scaring up a spicy pumpkin smoothie

PumpSmothie01
It happens every year. The light changes,becoming slanted and long-shadowed. Night comes more quickly. Leaves rattle dry whispers. And nearly every possible incarnation of pumpkin appears!

This is by no means a complaint, but at times, the pumpkin-flavored this and that doth seem an over-saturation. I love pumpkins. I love their jolly heralding of my favorite season. But sometimes this full-steam of pumpkin products makes me believe that the campy horror flick should have been called “Attack of the Killer Pumpkins.”

This was no more apparent than during a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, where every aisle featured pumpkin offerings…everything from ready-made pumpkin soup, pumpkin crackers, pumpkin biscotti to be dipped in pumpkin spice tea or coffee. Why, you can even slather yourself, post-bath, in a full smear of lightly spiced pumpkin butter (not to be ingested!), complete with shea emollients. The Trader Joe’s cashier acknowledged the pumpkinathon, but warned, “Pretty soon, it’ll be peppermint and cranberries.”

smoothIngred01So enjoy pumpkins while you can, but choose some unique ways to honor and enjoy this beautiful seasonal creature. How long has it been since you’ve carved a pumpkin, hands covered in its inner seedy slime? What joy! Make a delicious pumpkin pie from scratch. Roast some pumpkin seeds (or buy some already shelled, roasted and salted, and serve on a salad). For a holiday treat, try some pumpkin fudge for something different. And I would suggest dismissing the oversugared pumpkin shakes and coffee drinks on the coffeehouse menus and make a pumpkin smoothie! I found a great recipe to try!

Pumpkin is loaded with fiber and beta carotene. It is truly a health food. I thought this smoothie, combining a number of healthy accompaniments to the pumpkin, as well as the traditional pie spices, would be a rich-tasting yet nutritious offering. I was right. I stumbled over the recipe on a runners’ blog and was compelled to try. Having had the treat a couple of times now, it’s a winner, offering a taste of autumn that can be tailored to one’s tastes.

Frozen bananas (I recommend freezing them sans peel in a plastic bag) lend the creamy, fruity frosty texture and sweetness to the drink, along with dates. You can add some stevia, as I did, if you like a little more sweetness or prefer to use unsweetened almond milk. Canned pumpkin — just 1/2 cup — is the star and your fall flavor opens up in this treat with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg (the recipe calls for a pinch of each, but I increased the cinnamon and ginger a little). These spices, too, promote health benefits of their own — cinnamon is touted to lower blood sugar, ginger can help with digestion, cloves have anti-inflammatory properties and nutmeg has been said to aid indigestion and detoxify the liver and kidneys.

Along with all the healthy aspects of this smoothie, it also offers some;thing that seems decadent, like dessert by the glass. It’s really like having a shake, only better. And virtually guilt-free, if you are into that sort of thing, which, from time to time, we should be. If you want a splurge of decadence, top with a little whipped cream.

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Post-run
Pumpkin Spice
Protein Smoothie
Posted by Allessia on www.lulemon.com

½ cup canned pumpkin
1 cup almond milk
2 frozen bananas
2 dates
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (optional)
½ tsp vanilla extract
Sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger
Blend all ingredients at high speed in blender.
Blogger’s Note: This makes one large smoothie or two small ones — the smaller size I found plenty rich and satisfying enough, plus I got to share! I’ve increased the cinnamon and ginger to about 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon. I’ve added as much as two packets of Stevia, to tailor the sweetness quotient, particularly when using unsweetened almond milk.

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