The Plant-Powered Blog

Welcome to Sharon’s multi-award winning The Plant-Powered Blog, where Sharon posts daily on living a rich, fulfilling plant-powered life. On these pages, you will learn about cooking tips, nutrition information, recipes, photo diaries, traveling, product reviews, interviews, the latest in science, and much, much more.

October Dirt Report: Pumpkin

October Dirt Report: Pumpkin

Pumpkin, the harbinger of fall, has gone absolutely viral. In the past, we had our basic pumpkin pies and pumpkin spice muffins, but now pumpkin is in everything from hummus and pasta to coffee and tea. You can even wash your face with pumpkin! I personally love the pumpkin trend, because it’s about time people realized that pumpkin is so much more than a pie filling. Cultures around the globe have cherished pumpkin as a main ingredient in savory dishes, from Latin American soups and stews to Asian pumpkin dumplings and stir-fries.

Pumpkins are in the same family as winter squashes, and they are packed with nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamins A and C, fiber, copper, potassium, slow-digesting carbs, and more. I grew pumpkins in my garden this summer—the result of composting pumpkins last fall and the seeds catching hold in my garden to produce mystery vines. And now I have their cheerful shapes and curling vines gracing my mantel and doorstep as I welcome fall into my home. I love cooking with these gems, too. Check out my five favorite ways to use pumpkin in the kitchen below.

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I grew these pumpkins in my garden this summer. When you grow them at home, you can clip a length of their twisted vines to include in your fall décor.

My Top 5 Ways to Use Pumpkin in the Kitchen

  1. Bake with Pumpkin. Turn your kitchen into nirvana with the aroma of pumpkin spice baking in your oven in breads, pies, cookies, and muffins. Check out my recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins from Plant-Powered for Life.
  2. Stir in Mashed Pumpkin. Cook up pumpkin and mash it (or simply open up a can of pumpkin) to stir into so many wonderful recipes, such as soups, macaroni and “cheese” (let pumpkin stand in for cheese!), and even a pumpkin latte. Skip those fake lattes with pumpkin additives and use the real thing. Check out my Real Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte in my new video and learn how to make a healthier version of this classic fall staple.
  3. Blend Pumpkin Up. Throw pumpkin in a blender to make an amazing pumpkin smoothie—check out my recipe for Pumpkin Spice Orange Smoothie here.
  4. Save the Seeds. Don’t throw out those pumpkin seeds! Roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and seasonings and enjoy them as a nutrient-rich snack. Sprinkle them over salads (such as my Salad with Cantaloupe, Radishes, and Pumpkin Seeds), into baked goods, and on your veggies.
  5. Use Pumpkin as a Vegetable. Don’t forget that pumpkin is a vegetable, not just an ingredient. You can roast it just like you would winter squash, cube it in soups and stews, and sauté it in a savory stir-fry.
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Pumpkins on display at the Nashville farmers market. Aren’t they lovely?

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Real Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte

Go crazy for pumpkins this fall! Try my recipe for Pumpkin Latte below, and look for my new Pumpkin Mania Recipe Roundup on the blog this month.

Real Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte (Vegan)

Bring in the fall with this easy, plant-based recipe using genuine pumpkin (not those fake syrups or mixes).

1 cup brewed espresso or strong dark coffee
1 cup plain soy milk, unsweetened, unflavored (may substitute your own plant-based milk preference)
3 tablespoons canned (or cooked, pureed) pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

  1. Add all ingredients to a small pot, place on medium heat, and stir with a wire whisk until smooth and hot.

Makes 2 servings

20 Plant-Powered Nourish Bowl Recipes

20 Plant-Powered Nourish Bowl Recipes

I love the nourish bowl trend—the simple notion that you can eat a healthy meal all in one bowl. Whether it’s a smoothie bowl, a salad bowl, or a grain bowl, you can pack the confines of that round dish with a whole lot of nourishing, healthful plant ingredients—and you can reap the nutrition rewards. Nourish bowls are perfect for breakfast, lunch, snacks, or an easy dinner. I asked some of my favorite bloggers to share their favorite nourish bowl recipes in my fabulous collection of 20 plant-powered recipes. Get ready to be inspired!

Peace, Love, and Nourishment,

Sharon

quinoa

Chai Quinoa Breakfast Bowl, Stephanie McKercher, RDN, The Grateful Grazer

Feeling extra tired? Try warm breakfasts that are filled with cozy flavors.  This is the type of breakfast that will make you feel like you’re back into the swing of things.  If this breakfast bowl doesn’t make you feel nourished and recharged, you should probably just go back to bed.

kale

5 Ingredient Healthy Kale and Quinoa Bowl, Kara Lydon, RD, The Foodie Dietitian

How as a country, we spend the least amount of time on cooking than any other country?  We’re all strapped for time, so appreciate a good 5 ingredient meal that takes less than 30 minutes to make when you’re in a time pinch.

sorghum

Summer Sorghum Bowl with Sweet Corn and Succotash, Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, Street Smart Nutrition

Nourish Bowls are apparently all the rage.  This one combines a roasted sweet corn succotash to compliment sorghum’s Southern roots. Instead of lima beans in a traditional succotash, I subbed black beans and topped it with avocado. This bowl is basically a fiber bomb, so wash it down with some liquids…you know…for regularity.

superfood

Superfood Smoothie Bowl, Christy Brissette, MS, RD, 80 Twenty Nutrition

When breakfast calls and you’re looking for something more substantial than just a plain old smoothie, look no further than the smoothie bowl! Smoothie bowls are great because you can endlessly play with the ingredients to find smoothie bowls that you love. This smoothie bowl recipe is absolutely delicious and very simple! It just takes 10 minutes and then it’s ready to enjoy.

pumpkin

Pumpkin n’ Protein Smoothie Bowl, Shannon Garcia, RD, LD, Lone Start Nutrition

One of the great things about smoothie bowls is it causes us to slow down a bit… sure, drinking a smoothie on-the-go is a must sometimes (or let’s get real.. like most the time), BUT it’s so nice to just sit down for a few minutes with a meal or snack and savor the flavor.

abundance

Abundance Bowls with Almond Butter-Lemon Dressing, Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, Love & Zest

Roasted veggies topped with the creamiest lemony almond butter dressing! This vegan abundance bowl will make you feel ahhhhhmazing from the inside out! 

buddha

Nourish Buddha Bowl with Almond Turmeric Aioli, Katie Cavuto, RD, Nourish Breathe Thrive

This “turmeric aioli” is as good as it gets! Turmeric is packed with immune boosting antioxidants that help decrease inflammation and fend off disease. Blend it together with almond butter, garlic and a few spices and you have yourself a medicinal dressing that is satisfying, delicious, and perfect for drizzling on just about anything!

apple

Apple Walnut Quinoa Breakfast Bowl, Vanessa Croessmann, Vegan Family Recipes

My boys love this, and you can even add a splash of almond milk to it for some extra creaminess. I love this quinoa breakfast bowl since it’s not a sugar filled breakfast that will have me and my kids bouncing off the walls all day.

green

Going Green Smoothie with Rawnola, Mel, A Virtual Vegan

Do you love the idea of packing the green stuff into your smoothie but always hate the taste? Then you need to try this Going Green Smoothie! It’s stuffed full of healthy ingredients including spinach but is creamy, sweet, and delicious. It really doesn’t taste green! 

blueberry

Blueberry Coconut Smoothie Bowl, Demeter, Beaming Baker

An easy recipe for a refreshing smoothie bowl packed with antioxidants, blueberries, and coconut.

farro

Italian Farro Bowl, Nicole McTaggart, Earth Powered Family

love a good vegan bowl. I appreciate the simplicity of a single, complete dish. Plus, it’s a great way to experiment with different flavor combinations and ingredients. I thought I would try to use this ancient Roman grain in a vegan bowl. I continued the Italian theme with the addition of roasted bell peppers, zucchini, crimini mushrooms, and cannellini beans. And what better sauce to complete the dish than a bright pesto.

chunky-money

Vegan Chunky Monkey Smoothie Bowl, Melissa Huggins, Vegan Huggs

I love feeling like I’m having dessert for breakfast, while feeding my body tons of nutrition. Don’t you? Well, this smoothie bowl might look like it’s loaded with sugar and junk, but it’s super healthy for you. Pinky swear.

dragon

Nourishing Dragon Bowls, Josh & Katie, Delightful Vegans

I just love how I feel after I eat a big Nourishing Dragon Bowl. My body thanks me. All the goodness of brown rice and a bit of salad, fermented foods and a protein source, like tofu or tempeh, really makes for a great combination – with a delicious dressing drizzled on top of course! You could easily have this dish without a dressing. But dressings are so good, and I think they take this dish up a notch (or five!).

black-bean

Black Bean Protein Bowl, Amber, Quite Good Food

This straight forward combination of black beans, sweet potato and spinach with tahini dressing creates a nutrient dense and well balanced protein bowl. It also delivers 43 percent RDI for iron, 40 percent for vitamin C and 24    percent for calcium (oh yeah, and a ludicrous 268% for vitamin A). Told you it was balanced.

falafel

Baked Falafel Salad Bowls, Shannon, Yup, It’s Vegan

These baked falafels that are crumbled into my salad are easy, portable, versatile, and healthy. Not to mention, falafel was always one of the few things that my picky school-aged self actually liked to eat.

breakfast

Breakfast Bowl, Florian, Contentedness Cooking

If you need an easy healthy breakfast, then my Vegan Breakfast Bowl is exactly what you need. Full of fruits, nuts, and with gluten free oats, this is not only nourishing but also delicious. If you like, you can also make this an amazing quinoa breakfast recipe by substituting the oats. Sprinkle your favorite nut butter over this Breakfast Bowl and be energized for the day.

green-goodness

Green Goodness Power Bowl, Stephanie, RD, Neat and Nutritious

There is nothing better than a warm, comforting bowl of nutritious and delicious flavors after (or in the middle of) a long day. And with the green Spring bounty growing up in abundance right now, the best meals are simple ones that balance flavor, nutrition, and comfort in a few quick steps. This power bowl has it all, filling carbs, rich protein, hearty fats, loads of greens, and a sauce to put it over the top.

polenta

Parmesan Polenta Bowl, Angel McNall, RD, Cheftographer

A parmesan polenta bowl with roasted tomatoes, greens, and beans is absolutely everything that is wonderful about food. It’s not difficult to prepare, it’s super healthy, it’s beautiful and it’s absolutely delicious!

burrito

Super Simple Vegan Burrito Bowl, Jenn Sebestyen, Veggie Inspired

In a hurry? Low on funds? No worries – you can still have a delicious dinner! I have been eating this quick and easy vegan burrito bowl since long before I switched to a plant-based diet. It’s inexpensive and gets dinner on the table in a few short minutes.  It is also surprisingly flavorful without having to add a bunch of spices.

acia

Brazilian Açai Bowl, Larissa, Eat Yourself Green

Açaí bowls are the healthy craze at the moment. They’ve been more and more popular each day and you can find them in pretty much every healthy/organic/paleo shop you visit. I like to top it with lots of oats, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp) and nuts.

Ask Sharon: Can I be deficient in vitamin A?

Ask Sharon: Can I be deficient in vitamin A?

As part of my new program “Ask Sharon”, I am answering the top question of the month submitted through my blogFacebookTwitter or Instagram to answer here. You can even win a prize! Don’t forget to submit your burning nutrition question this month via my blog, or other social media. Here is my favorite question this month. 

Question:

I am a local California resident and have been on a vegan diet for almost 2 years now. I am almost certain at this point that I am deficient in Vitamin A. I am feeling very unlike myself and want to stay vegan if possible. If you have any advice it would be much appreciated. —Cassandra

Answer:

Thank you for sending in your questions, Cassandra. Vitamin A is a rather unusual micronutrient for a vegan to be deficient in. It is found in yellow-orange and deep green plant foods, and most vegans get high amounts of it in their diets, according to research. The highest sources of vitamin A include sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, swiss chard, and winter squash.

There are two forms of vitamin A: retinoids (found in animal foods) and carotenoids (found in plant foods). You’re body can convert carotenoids, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene (the best form), and beta-cryptoxanthin into vitamin A. There are a few conditions which may limit one’s ability to convert, such as certain medications, and liver and digestive concerns.

Vitamin A is important for vision, immune support, and normal cell growth, among many other things. The symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include night blindness, dry scaling skin, and impaired immune fiction. It’s important to note that toxicity can occur with very large doses of vitamin A supplements.

It may be that your diet is not balanced in other nutrients that are causing symptoms. Please check out my article on nutrients of concern for vegan diets for more information about balancing your diet with all of the most important nutrients. Indeed, it is important to make sure you get a daily source of vitamin A-rich foods in your diet every day to ensure you meet your needs. Fat also helps the absorption of vitamin A, so including a small amount of healthy fat, such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, or avocados, can help absorption. I also recommend that vegans discuss their individual diets with a healthcare practitioner, such as a registered dietitian, familiar with vegan diets. And you may enjoy this wonderful article on vitamin A in vegetarian diets from The Vegetarian Resource Group here.  —Sharon Palmer, RDN

Image: Vitamin-A rich produce for sale at the farmers market in Pasadena, Sharon Palmer, RDN

Meet Sharon

As a registered dietitian with 16 years of health care experience, Sharon channels her nutrition experience into writing features covering health, wellness, nutrition, and cuisine.

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