Pumpkin Fuel Recipes

Pumpkin Mania 

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In the food world, October can only mean one thing—pumpkin flavored everything is back, for better or worse. And while pumpkin spiced latte’s, which are often sugar bombs, may come to mind, the natural sweetness of the iconic squash can be used to enrich a range of homemade fuel options. With that said, here is a quartet of pumpkin inspired recipes that are sure to help you keep up the pace during any fall adventure. As an added bonus, I’m providing a simple method for homemade pumpkin puree so you can shelve the cans for a while and instead make use of inexpensive pie pumpkins at markets. And don’t forget that pumpkin is laced with beta-carotene, an item that can be converted in the body to vitamin A to ramp up immunity. Good gourd, indeed!

Mini Pumpkin Pancakes

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Consider taking these along on a long fall bike ride or other outing with some maple syrup for a fun breakfast on-the-go. They are also excellent when two pancakes are pressed against cream cheese or nut butter for mini sandwich fuel. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can simply use one or more warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons butter or coconut oil

Place eggs, milk, pumpkin, yogurt, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla and salt in a blender container and blend until smooth. Blend in flour.

Heat butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat. By the heaping spoonful, drop batter into pan and heat mini-pancakes until edges begin to darken and curl inwards, about 2 minutes. Flip over and cook for 2 minutes more. Let prepared pancakes cool on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter or oil to pan as needed. You will end up with about 26 mini pancakes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Mini Muffins

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Pull out these little pumpkin morsels to share during a group exercise outing and you’ll be an instant hero. They are also great when a snack attack strikes. If desired, you can replace the chopped chocolate with about 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons brown sugar or coconut sugar
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and then stir in pumpkin, yogurt or sour cream, milk, maple syrup, sugar and coconut oil. Add wet ingredients to dry and gently mix together. Fold in chocolate.

Divide batter among 24 mini muffin cups and bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out nearly clean. Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding and cool further on a metal rack.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie

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This healthier version of a fall classic is an ideal drink for recharging after a spirited workout. I’ll brew up a bit of coffee before a workout and then let it cool while working up a sweat so it’s ready when I am. You can replace the brewed coffee with another 1/2 cup milk and blend in 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder.

1/2 brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup almond milk or other milk of choice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons almond butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 frozen banana, chopped

Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth.

 Pumpkin Recovery Ice Cream

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Just the thought of spooning up this creamy “instant” ice cream is all the motivation I need to hop on the saddle. It’s also a great dessert option. I like to add some crunchy toppings for textural contrast and this can range from chopped nuts to cacao nibs to granola to coconut flakes. A sprinkling of dried cranberries is great, too. If desired, replacing the protein powder with some thick Greek yogurt would likely work in this recipe. Try to plan ahead and place your serving bowl in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before making the ice cream – a cold bowl will keep the mixture from melting too quickly.

1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup plain or vanilla protein powder
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla protein powder)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Place banana in a food processor. Turn the machine on and let it run until banana is reduced to the size of small pebbles. At first, the bananas will just bounce around and make a lot of noise before beginning to take on a smooth consistency. Scrape down sides of bowl and add pumpkin, protein powder, maple syrup and cinnamon to container. Continue blending just until the point where the mixture is creamy.

DIY Pumpkin Puree

To make your own pumpkin mash, cut a pie pumpkin in half and scrape out seeds and strings with a spoon or ice cream scooper. Slice the cleaned pumpkin into chunks, lightly brush flesh with oil and place flesh side down on a baking dish. Bake at 375ºF for 40 minutes, or until a knife easily pierces the skins and flesh is very tender. Scrape off the flesh from the skin into a food processor and whiz until smooth. Extra puree can be frozen for up to 6 months.

For more pumpkin inspired recipes that can rev up your workouts pick up a copy of the delicious cookbook, ROCKET FUEL.

Rocket Fuel by Matt KadeyIn Rocket Fuel, award-winning dietitian Matt Kadey offers up delicious, creative, and convenient real-food recipes to power your everyday exercise and weekend adventures. Rocket Fuel will be available this April in bookstores, outdoors stores, and online. Preorder today from VeloPress, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, local booksellers, and Chapters/Indigo.

Food photography by Aaron Colussi.

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