Kitchen MacGyver: Pumpkin Muffins

Photo: Scott Draper

Tasty tips for flesh-to-seed enjoyment.

Written by: Sabrina Grotewold

Pumpkins provide a cornucopia of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and complex carbohydrates endurance athletes so desperately need. Tara Gidus, marathon runner, registered dietician and team dietician for the Orlando Magic, loves to roast pumpkin seeds, which she says are full of magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, iron and potassium as well as healthy unsaturated fats and a small amount of omega-3s. According to Gidus, who lives in Winter Park, Fla., these antioxidants and minerals protect bones, provide anti-inflammatory benefits and help control blood pressure.

“Heat doesn’t really change the nutritional value of a nut or seed,” said Gidus. “I think seeds are much tastier when they’re roasted.”

To roast fresh seeds, scrape the white seeds out of the pumpkin, removing as much of the stringy flesh as possible. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray, spread seeds evenly onto tray and sprinkle with salt. Roast them in a preheated 400-degree F oven for 10 minutes, remove from oven and mix them around, then put back in oven for another five minutes. When cooled completely, store seeds in an airtight container—they’ll last for up to two months in the refrigerator.

Because roasting the flesh of a pumpkin takes time, Gidus, a mother of two young children, uses canned pumpkin puree, which she says contains the exact nutritional value as fresh pumpkin. Stir canned pumpkin into premade pancake mix, cooked oatmeal, or into soup. Gidus also loves pumpkin bread or muffins for busy athletes, as they pack plenty of nutrition and complex carbs into a portable package.

PUMPKIN MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS

1 ¾ cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup pumpkin

½ cup low-fat buttermilk

2 tablespoons butter

2 eggs

Handful of chopped pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until combined. Pour batter into cupcake tin-lined muffin trays. Sprinkle muffin tops with pecans, if desired. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

This piece first appeared in the November issue of Competitor Magazine.

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