Do healthy pumpkin desserts exist?
If you love the fall flavors of pumpkin, but you’re also trying to stay on track with your health goals, you may wonder the answer to that question and if finding healthier alternatives is even possible. Or if it means you’ll have to forgo all things pumpkin to achieve your goals.
The good news is, as you’ll see in this article, you can try at least six delicious pumpkin desserts without derailing your hard work.
We’ll share those recipes along with the health benefits of pumpkin to show you why it’s not a bad thing to get your pumpkin fill this fall.
The key is to ditch the junk and go for the real thing, which we’ll show you exactly how to do here.
If you’re short on time, here are the key takeaways from this article:
- Eating pumpkin may support eye health, immunity, and overall health.
- It’s also a great low-calorie, high-fiber food, which is ideal if weight loss is your goal.
- We’ve found six delicious and healthy ways to enjoy pumpkin, and we’re sharing those recipes here.
You can also use these links below to skip ahead to the parts of this article that interest you the most:
- The Top 4 Health Benefits of Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds
- What desserts can be made from pumpkins that are healthy?
The Top 4 Health Benefits of Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds
Aside from being the epitome of the fall season, pumpkins and pumpkin seeds also come with a host of incredible health benefits, including:
1. They May Support Eye Health and Immunity
Pumpkin’s hard-to-miss orange color comes from beta-carotene, a rich antioxidant precursor to vitamin A. The latter means that beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, which comes with several health benefits, including supporting eye health and immunity.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Vitamin A can’t give you superpowers of night vision or cure your dependence on contact lenses, but eating an adequate amount will support eye health.” 
One cup of pure pumpkin supplies a whopping 245% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. 
In addition to beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are two more carotenoids, which are antioxidants that supply the perfect orange hue found in pumpkins, that contribute to eye health support.
According to research published in the National Library of Medicine, “lutein and zeaxanthin are the main dietary carotenoids found in the human retina, and they protect the macula from damage by blue light, improve visual acuity and scavenge harmful reactive oxygen.” 
So, eating pumpkin isn’t just good for your tastebuds; it’s excellent for eye health.
And there’s more.
Vitamin A also helps your body produce more white blood cells, which is crucial for fending off and fighting infections, making it a potent powerhouse for supporting immune health. 
2. They’re Loaded With Important Minerals for Better Overall Health
In addition to beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, pumpkin is also packed with other essential minerals, including :
According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, “[Pumpkin is] an excellent source of potassium at 564 milligrams, which helps your muscles contract, regulate fluids, maintain normal blood pressure, and balance minerals in and out of body cells.” 
They also mention that pumpkin seeds are “packed with protein, fiber, and many other minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, folate, niacin, and selenium.” 
Harvard Health echoes these positive sentiments when it says, “Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium, a mineral that’s important for keeping blood pressure in check. They’re also a good source of several other minerals, unsaturated fats, and fiber.” 
3. They’re Low in Calories and Fat, and They’re Packed with Fiber
A few more positive health benefits of pumpkin include :
- They’re low in calories, roughly 50 calories per half-cup
- They contain no fat or cholesterol
- And that same half-cup serving gives you four grams of fiber
Enjoying low-calorie snacks packed with fiber is excellent whether you’re trying to lose weight or maintain better overall health since fiber keeps you full for longer on fewer calories. 
4. You Can Use Pumpkin as a Healthier Alternative in Baking
Lastly, another unique health benefit of pumpkin is that it can be used as a healthier baking substitute.
According to Mayo Clinic dietician Anya Guy, “[Pumpkin cubes] can be used instead of butter or oil in baking recipes,” and, “You can even puree it into pancake mixtures.” 
To reap these positive perks, Guy mentions, “Look for 100 percent pure pumpkin puree without any added sugar.” 
6 Healthy Pumpkin Desserts That’ll Help You Reap the Benefits Without Derailing Your Health Goals
Before you head out to load up on all things pumpkin, registered dietician Allie Mahowald of the Mayo Clinic Health System brings up an excellent point to consider :
“Many of these pumpkin products are not necessarily the most nutritious choices. Many are high in sugar, fat, and refined carbs. But real pumpkin is extremely nutritious.”
So, to help you reap the true health benefits of pumpkin, we’re sharing six healthy pumpkin desserts made with the real thing.
1. Protein-Packed Pumpkin Muffins
If you’re craving pumpkin muffins for the fall season, consider making your own like these Protein-Packed Pumpkin Muffins.
Coffee shop muffins are often loaded with calories, sugar, and unnecessary junk ingredients.
Take the popular Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin, which clocks in at :
- 350 Calories
- 14g of Total Fat
- 53g of Carbohydrates
- 34g of Sugar
- 5g of Protein
On the other hand, these Protein-Packed Pumpkin Muffins are:
- 110 Calories
- 4.5g of Total Fat
- 15g of Total Carbohydrate
- 8g of Sugar
- 4g of Protein
Swap the protein powder in that recipe for your favorite one, and grab your go-to Greek yogurt for another added protein boost.
With this recipe, you can satisfy your pumpkin muffin cravings without derailing your hard work.
2. Paleo Pumpkin Power Balls
Another great seasonal option is these no-bake Paleo Pumpkin Power Balls, which are just 60 calories a piece and contain 2g of protein.
Enjoy them as a quick, energizing snack, or have them as a delicious dessert option after a meal. The choice is yours.
You may even find them so irresistible they’re hard to keep on hand.
3. Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
For a delicious dessert-like option you can enjoy post-workout or after dinner, try this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, which you can also use your go-to protein powder in.
Between the pumpkin puree, flax meal, and protein powder, it’s a filling smoothie that may keep you fuller for longer.
4. Pumpkin Parfaits
Want a delicious pumpkin snack that’s also filling and satisfying?
These Pumpkin Parfaits are just that.
Thanks to the eggs, pumpkin puree, and Greek yogurt, these parfaits are packed with 9g of protein, which can help keep you satisfied between meals.
The pumpkin pie spice and maple syrup also give you that oh-so-delicious fall flavor, while the pumpkin seeds give it the perfect granola-like crunch.
Plus, you get the benefits of both pumpkin and pumpkin seeds in one delicious dessert.
Enjoy these parfaits as a snack or dessert – they work great either way.
5. Pumpkin Granola
Another fun seasonal option is this delicious Pumpkin Granola, which is made from whole-food ingredients like pumpkin seeds, cranberries, pomegranate seeds, chia seeds, rolled oats, and canned pumpkins.
Thanks to the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pecans, you’ll also find those nostalgic fall flavors, which makes it a perfect way to enjoy the season.
Sprinkle your granola over your go-to Greek yogurt for another filling breakfast or snack option.
6. Mini Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecakes
And, for the ultimate pumpkin dessert, these Mini Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecakes are unmatched.
While cheesecake may not sound super healthy initially, this recipe contains Greek yogurt, eggs, and pumpkin puree, each packed with incredible nutrients.
Plus, compared to other cheesecakes that you’d find, these are far better in terms of their nutritional breakdown.
For example, the Pumpkin Cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory will cost you the following per slice :
- 1,040 Calories
- 79g of Total Fat
- 76g of Carbohydrates
- 60g of Sugar
- 10g of Protein
While these Mini Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecakes are just:
- 90 Calories
- 3.5g of Total Fat
- 13g of Carbs
- 8g of Sugar
- 3g of Protein
You’d have to eat almost 12 of these to come close to the calorie count of the Cheesecake Factor’s one slice.
These mini cheesecake bites are much smaller, but you could enjoy one or two without wrecking your daily nutrition goals.
So, you can get a delicious bite-sized dessert to satisfy the craving, and you can do so while staying on track. It’s a double win.
The bottom line
As you saw in this article, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are incredibly nutritious and come with several fantastic health benefits.
So, if you love all things pumpkin this time of year, you can happily get your fill while reaping these positive perks.
The key is to avoid all the artificially processed pumpkin options and instead choose healthier ones like the recipes listed here.
Doing so ensures you enjoy the fall flavors without derailing your hard work.
The hardest decision will be choosing which one to make first. Each recipe is more delicious than the last.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.