Something about September makes me yearn for a stateside Autumn despite the fact I’m in the midst of Spring in Australia. Maybe it’s because my visits there have coincided with the end of summer where the nights are just beginning to cool and the smell of fall is in the air. Growing up in the somewhat oppressive summer heat in the deep south and after months of hair-raising humidity, bugs that could carry you away and days where you’d feel like you had been hit with a big sweaty pig, the start of fall was an absolute celebration. Or maybe seeing all the posts of the excitement building to Halloween on social media make me so nostalgic. No…wait…I know what it is. Pumpkins. It’s all about pumpkins.
Here in Australia we have pumpkins year round (although we use the term widely and include winter squash as a pumpkin), but in the U.S. they are synonymous with autumn. And they are everywhere—decorations, pumpkin pies, pumpkin-spice lattes, pumpkin dips and even pets dressed up as pumpkins. Even though according to the calendar we should be well in to Spring here in Victoria, this season is different. The long, wet winter just doesn’t want to end. And this weather is causing my equilibrium to shift and trick my mind in to thinking it’s fall! So naturally, I want more pumpkin.
One of my favorite “pumpkins” is butternut squash. It’s so versatile—perfect for steaming, boiling, roasting, mashing, pureeing…you can even eat small amounts of it raw. Butternut is all that…buttery, nutty with just the right amount of sweetness to add depth to many dishes (and yes, it makes an awesome pumpkin pie). Pumpkins are chocker full of betacarotene (the precursor to Vitamin A)—a powerful antioxidant. They also contain Vitamin C (another antioxidant) which can support immune and skin health.
To celebrate the lovable pumpkin and my love for autumn (and rebel against all the fake pumpkin flavoured sugary drinks being advertised to herald the season), I decided to make a soothing pumpkin pie smoothie (recipe below). It’s dairy free (uses almond milk), vegan and paleo friendly and loaded with simple goodness. If you’re having it as an actual meal, add a protein source to it such as hemp seeds or a high quality protein powder (pea and brown rice are favourites of mine). I’ve added freshly ground turmeric to the mix for that extra immune and anti-inflammatory boost!
Roasting the pumpkin for the puree really brings out the sweetness and gives a nice, thick texture to the smoothie. Just peel and chop 1/2 butternut pumpkin into chunks. Toss with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and roast on 180° C for 30 minutes.
For the Pumpkin Puree
- 1/2 butternut squash
- Dash of olive oil and sea salt
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
- 4 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 1 cup (250ml) unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated turmeric
- Fresh cracked black pepper (helps absorb the turmeric)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of ground cloves
- pinch of allspice
- 1 organic medjool date, pitted
Preheat the oven to 180° C. To make the puree, peel and chop the butternut squash into chunks. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 30 minutes or until soft and just turning golden brown. Set aside to cool. Place cooled pumpkin in a food processor and process on high until smooth. Can be refrigerated up to 5 days or spooned into ice cube trays, covered and frozen.
To make the smoothie, put 4 tablespoons of the pumpkin puree into a high speed blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until totally smooth, pour in a glass, sprinkle with cinnamon and let nostalgia take you away!