Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mix a Little Halloween in your Drink

It’s always a welcome site to see pumpkins popping up everywhere as summer weather makes its exit and cool breezes bring fall. This fall, I have seen pumpkins not only at the grocery stores and craft stores, but in recipes touting its nutritional properties.

Why Pumpkins?

Remember, when choosing foods to eat, that fruits and vegetables with vibrant color are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The bright orange color of a pumpkin is attributed to an antioxidant called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is transformed into Vitamin A once it enters the body. Vitamin A won’t necessarily enhance your sport performance, but it will help maintain eye health, promote a healthy immune system, and it is essential for cell growth and development. A well balanced diet full of nutrient rich foods supports a healthy body and healthy immune system…that in turn will help your sport performance when intense training may weaken your defenses.

How can an athlete include pumpkins in their diet?

Pumpkin is paired excellently with milk. Think pumpkin spice latte…or cinnamon spice smoothie with pumpkin…fall in a glass. By now, athletes are learning of the power that milk and yogurt can have after a workout. Milk contains high quality, complete proteins that support growth and repair of muscle, bone and other body tissues. In addition to protein, milk and yogurt contain 8 other essential nutrients that are important for active individuals. To add even more…milk and yogurt also contain carbohydrate that is necessary to help refuel muscles after exercise. If you are an athlete that uses training to help maintain weight, eating a higher protein diet can increase feelings of fullness and help maintain muscle. Enjoy your pumpkin during this fall season and maximize your recovery by mixing it into a smoothie or latte. Happy sipping!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Makes approximately 4 servings (1 cup)


1 can (15 oz) pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 cups skim milk (add more to adjust consistency)
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
A dash of Cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
Sweetener of choice to taste (try a Stevia blend for lower calories!)

Preparation Instructions

Scoop the pureed pumpkin, milk, and Greek yogurt into a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Add more milk if you would like a thinner consistency. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweetener to your taste preference and blend once more to mix in the flavors. Enjoy 30 minutes to 2 hours after a workout for maximum results!
*Adapted and healthified from the Pioneer Woman
At Home Pumpkin Spice Latte
Makes 1 to 2 servings


2 cups skim milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1 to 2 tablespoons sweetener of choice
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup of strong brewed coffee or two shots of espresso

In a saucepan whisk together milk, pumpkin and sweetener and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice. Using a hand blender or wire whisk, blend the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Stir in brewed coffee, pour into mugs and enjoy! Excellent after a cool morning run. Tip: make the pumpkin and milk mixture ahead of time and store for 1-2 days in your fridge. Heat on low in the microwave before adding coffee.
*Adapted and healthified from

Caroline Sullivan, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is the SD-USA assistant chair for social media. She is a health and wellness program coordinator for Dairy MAX and lives in Houston. Her expertise include sports nutrition, eating disorders, and wellness programming. For those interested in being a part of SD-USA social media, please contact her at

Sources of Information

Protein Summit 2007: Exploring The Impact Of High-Quality Protein On Optimal Health: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2008;87(suppl):1551S–1583S.
University of Illinois Extension. (2013) Pumpkin Nutrition. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. (2012) Vitamin A. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from