Looking for a delicious treat that will give you life through the cold, dry winter? A homemade pumpkin pie smoothie will satisfy your sweet tooth and nourish you from the inside out. This healthy little indulgence contains vitamins and minerals that will give your skin a beautiful glow. And it’s simple to put together. So pick up one of those beautiful pumpkins—or squashes—that are plentiful now, and read on.
It happens every year. We’ve all been there. Health is important to us, but when the holiday season rolls out like a dietary minefield it can be challenging to stay grounded in our eating rituals. Deprivation will only cause frustration, so if your heart goes pitter patter when you spot the dessert tray at the party, I say go for it; savor every bite, and by all means notice how it makes you feel. Then when you’re home, make a pumpkin pie smoothie, and note how that makes you feel. If you practice listening to your body in this way, you just might find that you begin to make better eating choices, gradually and with ease.
Dessert seems like so much fun, but it can have a dark side—refined sugar wreaks havoc on the body in many ways, from vascular to skin health. Sugar is inflammatory and dehydrating to the body, which is particularly problematic during the dry fall and winter. During this time of year, many of us suffer from dry hands, elbows, and heels, but dry skin isn’t limited to the body’s exterior. The respiratory and intestinal tracts can also become dry. When the sinuses dry out, the mucus membranes are triggered, producing excessive mucus that can become a breeding ground for opportunistic viruses and unhealthy bacteria. That’s probably the last thing you were expecting when you reached for that slice of cheesecake.
The good news is that all sweets are not created equal. The pumpkin pie smoothie I’m sharing today is a great reason to enjoy something sweet. It’s a simple blend of cooked pumpkin or squash purée, fresh almond milk, and vanilla. Sweetened by banana and a little maple syrup, it won’t spike your blood sugar and leave you depleted. It’s also rich in skin loving beta-carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A), vitamin E, and potassium. I add a healthy dose of cinnamon, which keeps blood sugar stable and prevents insulin spikes that cause skin irritation and aging.
A few prep notes: Both pumpkin and butternut squash work well in this recipe. You can certainly use premade, store-bought pumpkin/squash purée and almond milk, but if you have a little time, try preparing them from scratch. They’re both remarkably easy to make. Eating these foods from scratch will give you a better sense of what these plants really taste like. Even when additives aren’t used, manufacturing tends to alter the flavors of foods, and ultimately alters our palates to favor exaggerated or dull flavors that don’t exist in nature. And in the case of almond milk, I have yet to find one on store shelves that doesn’t contain additives. Another thing I love about cooking from scratch is batch cooking. When making this smoothie, I’ll prepare extra almond milk for the next day, and use any remaining squash in another dish, which amounts to more easy, healthy meals. (Or try these beauty recipes that use pumpkin!)
Every bite we choose to take delivers raw fuel to our bodies, but eating is also an emotional experience. Unfortunately, for many people the primary emotion associated with food is anxiety. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Food can be one of your greatest allies. Choose wisely, slow down, listen, and allow a world of beauty to open to you. Eating is a sensual experience that continues after you swallow. If you allow it, food will help you develop a greater understanding of your body, and ultimately, yourself. Intuitive eating is a process of self-discovery that can ultimately lead to a lot of joy.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (Vegan, Gluten Free)
(Note: If using store-bought almond milk, use 1 cup, and omit almonds and water)
½ cup of almonds
1 cup water
1 small baking pumpkin or butternut squash, rinsed and dried (once cooked, measured out to 1½ cups purée)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Place the almonds in a bowl with a little sea salt. Cover with water by an inch and mix. Cover the bowl with a cloth, and soak overnight on the counter. Drain, rinse well, and place in a food processor or blender along with 1 cup of water. Blend on high for 2-4 minutes. Store in a sealed container in the fridge while you proceed with the rest of the recipe. (Alternately, you can make this ahead and store it for up to 2 days.)
- If you’re making the pumpkin/squash purée, preheat the oven to 400°F. Using a large knife, cut the pumpkin/squash in half and scoop out the seeds (you can reserve these for another use). Sprinkle the flesh with sea salt and lay the pieces skin side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until the surface easily cuts through with a paring knife. Set aside and allow to cool. When cool, use a large spoon to remove the flesh of the squash, transfer to the bowl of food processor, and process for 4 minutes, until the flesh is smooth.
- Combine the reserved almond milk, 1½ cups pumpkin/squash purée, banana, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla in a blender or food processor and blend for about 60 seconds, or until desired thickness is reached. Serve immediately or chill for approximately 20 minutes.
- Garnish as desired (photo suggests star anise, chia seeds, sliced apple, cherry tomatoes, and dragonfruit)