Fall is officially upon us, which means it is pumpkin’s time to shine once again. I personally think it is a shame that pumpkin gets so much attention at this time of the year, and then everyone just forgets about it the second Starbucks removes PSLs from their menu. How unfair is that? How would you feel if people only liked you and paid attention to you for 3 months out of the year? Probably not that great.
Lucky for you, people like my family exist, and we give pumpkin the love that it deserves all year round. Yep, that’s right. It is not unusual at all for us to whip up a pumpkin pie smack dab in the middle of July. Trust me — it is just as delicious then as it is now.
However, I must admit that there is something about eating pumpkin-flavored anything specifically around this time of year that makes me feel all the feels. That sweet pumpkin spice taste gives me the warm fuzzies inside because I know it means that the holidays are right around the corner. The most wonderful time of the year. Even though I mostly despise the cold weather that comes with this time of year, I do love scarves, boots, sweatpants, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and pumpkin everything, so it all works out in the end.
Another thing that tends to happen around this time of year thanks to the cold weather and all the decadent treats? Weight gain. For some, it seems almost inevitable, and for many, it happens year after year after year. They lose weight in the summer months because they are moving more and they are motivated to look good in a swim suit, but during the winter it’s a much different story. People stay inside because it is too cold and dark to get motivated to exercise and they have the luxury of hiding the extra pounds under several layers of heavy clothing.
So, how can you keep from gaining weight during the colder months this time around? Well, it may sound obvious, but here are 2 things you definitely do not want to do this fall / winter: stop exercising & eat junk on a daily basis. I know it can be near impossible to get your butt out the door and to the gym [yoga studio / spin class / whatever it may be] when it’s below freezing outside, but Nike says it best — just do it. I promise you; the hardest part is getting yourself off the couch, lacing up your shoes, and heading out the door. Once you’ve made it there, the rest is a piece of cake! (I realize that was the wrong choice of words. Stop thinking about cake.) Yes, your workout might – and should – be challenging, but it will be well worth it. And pretty soon you can go back home, take a nice, warm shower and go on with your day/night.
As far as the junk food part goes, it’s all about practicing self-control. At almost every place of work, people bring in treats several times a week. I’ve seen it in schools and I’ve seen it in hospitals, and I know those can’t be the only places doing it. Whether it may be for someone’s birthday, or the holidays, or simply because they felt like baking and wanted to share the goods with their co-workers. While that is super kind and lovely of them and what not, it is A-okay to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m focusing on my health!” If you are trying to stay on track and keep from gaining weight this year, you cannot give in every time you see a cupcake! Not only will that affect your outside appearance with weight gain, but more importantly, it has a negative impact on your health on the inside, whether you can see it or not.
Sweet treats are absolutely fine on occasion. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a piece of pumpkin gooey butter cake or a big bowl of ice cream every now and then. It’s all about balance. Try to have a little self-discipline this year when you see treats around every corner, because trust me, you will. Just ask yourself what’s more important to you — enjoying that treat for a few minutes, or feeling good about your body and your health throughout the month, holiday season, and all year long?
When you do find the motivation to go out and do a tough workout this season, do not forget to refuel your body afterwards! The 30 to 60 minute window after you workout is a crucial time to give your body some nutrients to recover and replenish the energy stores that were lost during that sweat session. Protein and carbohydrates are especially important during this time, and that’s where this delicious smoothie finally comes in. Not only does it have the perfect balance of protein and carbs to refuel your body, but it also has a healthy dose of… you guessed it… pumpkin! Pumpkin is chock-full of vitamin A and delivers some fiber and potassium. It’s also so incredibly tasty and satisfying.
If you can’t tell, I’m a little obsessed with pumpkin, so this smoothie is pretty pumpkin-y. It tastes a lot like a pumpkin milkshake honestly. (You’re welcome.) However, if you only like a hint of pumpkin, I would recommend decreasing the amount of pumpkin puree to 1/4 or 1/3 cup, depending on personal preference. But if you’re like me, keep it as is and you will be in pumpkin heaven. Enjoy!
Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Smoothie
Makes 1 serving
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/3 cup vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 scoop snickerdoodle protein powder (or vanilla protein powder + 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
- 1 cup ice
- Dash of cinnamon
- Optional toppings: pumpkin seeds and reduced-sugar dried cranberries
- Combine all ingredients in a blender besides toppings. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add additional ice and/or liquid as needed until you reach desired consistency.
- Top with pumpkin seeds and/or dried cranberries if desired.
- Calories: 286 kcal
- Protein: 28.2 g
- Carbs: 31 g
- Fat: 4.9 g (only 1.1 g saturated fat)
- Fiber: 4 g
*Does not include toppings, amounts are approximate and may vary depending on specific products used
Have a healthy day!
eat well. live well. be happy.
Shanna Stewart, RD