Pumpkin- The Perfectly Paleo Carb for Athletes!

Pumpkin- The Perfectly Paleo Carb for Athletes! | The Paleo Diet

With all the nonsense we see these days in the media, it would be easy to misunderstand one of the fundamental principles of a real Paleo diet:  it’s a balanced way of eating.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not a regime focused on eating only meat, all day long. In The Paleo Diet,1 Dr. Cordain explains that a true hunter-gatherer diet is comprised of a macronutrient balance as follows: Pro 19-35%, Cho 22-40%, Fat 28-47%

How do you like them apples? And while a crisp, green apple is a great way to sneak some low glycemic fruit2 into the mix, there are some other options we can enjoy in order to fuel for, or recover from our athletic endeavors.

At this time of year, when we’re just about to welcome autumn produce into our kitchens, what better way to do so than by incorporating one of the most seasonally appropriate fall fruits, the pumpkin?3

In addition to tasting great, pumpkin offers a wealth of health benefits:4

  • Improved eyesight, due to its high Vitamin A content.
  • Cancer prevention from its antioxidant profile, according to the National Cancer Institute.
  • And, perhaps most relevant to this article, a cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium, with 564 milligrams (compare that to a banana, which has 422).

A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.  High in potassium and low in sodium, this is but one more piece of evidence to show how well pumpkin fits into the perfect Paleo profile.

But how do you eat it? Buying a can of it off the shelf isn’t exactly the most natural way to go about it. Here’s my favorite way to enjoy pumpkin with an interesting twist- you can use the squash itself as the serving vehicle!

PALEOISTA’S PUMPKIN SOUP

Paleoista's Pumpkin Soup | The Paleo Diet[/one_half]

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small to medium sized pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp rendered duck fat, plus another tablespoon reserved
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 lb 100% grass fed chuck, cut into 1” cubes
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth, plus more depending on desired consistency of soup
  • 1 spring thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp freshly snipped chives, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Remove top from pumpkin and set aside.

3. Scoop out seeds, rinse and set aside to dry.

4. Heat duck fat in skillet over medium high.

5. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until browned roughly 5 – 7 minutes.

6. Remove onions and mushrooms from skillet and brown beef on all sides, roughly 4 -6 minutes.

7. Add veggies back into skillet along with broth.

8. Scrape browned bits off bottom with wooden spatula.
9. Tie herbs together with kitchen twine and place in mixture.

10. Set pumpkin cut side up in Dutch Oven and use reserved fat to rub all over the outside of the rind.

11. Pour mixture into pumpkin, then cover with pumpkin top.

12. Place in oven and cook one hour, stirring halfway through.

13. Remove from oven and stir baby spinach into the mixture, then replace pumpkin top.

14. Let sit roughly five minutes, then serve in bowls, passing chives for garnish.
Enjoy the leftovers tomorrow after a long run or bike ride; soups and stews are even better on the second day!

 

REFERENCES

[1] Cordain, Loren. The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2011. Print.

[2] Braverman, Jody. “Are Apples Good for Keeping Blood Sugar Steady?” Healthy Eating. University of Redlands, n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.

[3] Nelson, Jennifer, RD. “Nutrition and Healthy Eating.” Fruit or Vegetable — Do You Know the Difference? The Mayo Clinic, 15 Aug. 2012. Web. 09 Sept. 2015

[4] Klein, Sarah. “8 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin.” The Huffington Post. Th Huffington Post, 5 Oct. 2012. Web

About Nell Stephenson, B.S.

Nell Stephenson, B.S.Nell Stephenson is a competitive Ironman athlete, personal trainer, and a health and nutrition consultant. She has an exercise science degree from the University of Southern California, a health/fitness instructor certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, and over a decade in the health, fitness and nutrition industry. To support her training for the Ironman Triathlon, Nell has tried many different nutritional plans and has found that the Paleo Diet is superior to all other ways of eating. She’s found that she’s leaner, faster, and fitter than ever before and uses her own experience to teach clients how to achieve optimal nutrition and health. Visit her website at paleoista.com. Download meal plans tailored to you here.

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