Buffalo News Refresh Blog – October 2016

Pumpkins hold their nutritional value long past Halloween

By: Holly R. Layer

I would be remiss if I didn’t address everyone’s favorite fruit (yes, because it develops from the flower of the plant) this month: the pumpkin. The giant orange globes have been decorating doorsteps for weeks now, local pumpkin patches are crowded with young families and we’re all flocking to Starbucks for a PSL at the hint of a chill in air. What is it about the pumpkin that we like so much?

First, a little background: According to history.com, the tradition of pumpkin-carving came from Ireland, where the story of ‘Stingy Jack,’ his deals with the devil and the burning turnip he carried, which eventually led to the ‘jack-o’-lantern,’ a staple of Halloween here in America. Last year, 47% of US households carved their own pumpkin. Little-known fact: 90% of the pumpkins grown in the US come from a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Ill., and most of those are turned into pumpkin puree or pie mix. There are many different kinds of pumpkins, some bred for carving and some for eating. If you plan on buying a pumpkin for cooking, look for varieties such as: Cheese, Cinderella, Jarrahdale, Lumina, Peanut and Pie pumpkins.

Second, we probably associate fond memories of mom’s pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, along with the delightful smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, wafting every which way this time of year. Pumpkins represent the best of our childhood memories of fall: raking leaves, hayrides and sweet treats.

Finally, there really IS a lot to like about the pumpkin. Not only are pumpkins high in Vitamin A itself, they are also high in carotenoids, which our bodies turn into Vitamin A. Carotenoids are what give the yellow-orange color to fruits and vegetables, like carrots, and aid in vision and eyesight. Pumpkins are also high in fiber, which helps us feel full on fewer calories and could lead to weight loss, and their seeds have been shown to help lower our LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol. Lastly, consider eating some pumpkin after a workout—they’re higher in potassium than bananas!

Here are some of my favorite pumpkin goodies—time to break out the loaf pan!

-Smoothie: ½ C pumpkin, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 C liquid

-Oatmeal: mix ¼ C pumpkin and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice into prepared oatmeal, top with granola

-Dip: replace roasted red peppers with pumpkin in your favorite hummus recipe

-Chili: add diced or canned pumpkin to any recipe

‘Made Over’ Pumpkin Bread

1/3 C butter

2 C sugar

4 eggs

1 can (16 oz) pumpkin or 3 C shredded zucchini (2-3 medium)

1/3 applesauce or buttermilk

1 ½ C all-purpose flour

1 ¾ C whole-wheat flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1/3 raisins, soaked and drained

1/3 walnuts, toasted and chopped


Heat oven to 350 and grease 2 loaf pans.

Mix butter and sugar. Add eggs, pumpkin and applesauce or buttermilk. Blend in flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves. Add nuts/raisins if using. Pour into pans. Sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake 1 hour or until wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Servings: 24 Calories: 150


Holly R. Layer is a Registered Dietitian and a freelance writer. She works as a clinical dietitian at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda and also provides nutritional counseling at Weigel Health Center at Buffalo State College, as well as teaching fitness classes at the Southtowns YMCA. She lives in the village with her husband, Andrew, an East Aurora native. She blogs at www.thehealthypineapple.com and her work appears monthly in the Refresh Buffalo Blog. Questions to Holly can be emailed to eanews@eastaurorany.com.





I’m gonna tri

Yes I am!  I finally signed up for my FIRST triathlon…which isn’t really a ‘real’ triathlon, but it’s a start.  The second annual ‘Tri at the Y’ is happening Nov 13, and I’ll be there!

I decided–especially since I’ve never done a triathlon before–I should probably do a little practicing before the big event.  Not so much the individual events (a 10-minute swim, 30-minute bike, 20-minute run), but the transitions between each one.  (Not that we’ll be racing down the hallways; we have 10-minute blocks of time between each event per heat.)

Anyway, today I decided I’d give it a go.  Here I am, before my swim:


In 10 minutes, I did 625 yds in the pool, and would have had plenty of time to change into dry clothes, if I’d brought them with me.  (I wanted to practice in my wet swimsuit in case I wouldn’t have time to change.)

After the bike:


As an instructor, I can use the cycle room solo (which is right next to the pool), so I jumped in there and hopped on the bike.  I started listening to my current audiobook, In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, but quickly got bored (not because of the book, because I was biking at a steady pace without good music).  So I called a friend, and before I knew it, my thirty minutes had passed. Sixteen miles with the bike at approximately gear 11.

After the run:


I was a sweaty, sopping mess by the end!  Approx 2.6 miles in 20 minutes, with my average pace 7:40.  I know I can go faster, but how much faster?  I think the run will be the most difficult for me, since it’s hard to know how fast to start out on a treadmill.

I had a great time, although it seemed a bit disjointed as I kept running into people I knew and chatting.  I liked that no one event was very long, so it keeps it from getting tedious. For the LONGEST time I’ve been saying I should do a triathlon, so perhaps this will be just the first of many such races.

donuts and coffee, fall-style

Between our busy schedules and Andrew spending every free moment working on our patio (almost finished!), we haven’t really gotten out for a proper ‘date’ in awhile.  Sure, we go grab lunch or dinner pretty frequently, but there have been no leisurely walks around the neighborhood, no care-free drives to see the colors of fall.  We don’t park ourselves in front of the television on weekends to watch college football, nor do we have people over to enjoy the Bills games, or even rake leaves together on mild afternoons.  Nope, for the past two or three fall seasons, Andrew (with or without me) has been toiling away on whatever project we had going on, or injured (let’s not forget those Achilles’ injuries).

So, this Saturday, we took the day off.  (Or, I intended us to, but somehow Andrew managed to talk me into letting him work outside for a couple hours…so I busied myself inside with food prep for the week ahead.)

After my morning run and a quick pancake breakfast together, we did our usual ‘separate-but-home-at-the-same-time’ thing for a few hours, and then headed out to Mayer Brothers Cider Mill, a local apple cider producer.  They have a small store and the line on beautiful fall days starts at the door and weaves throughout the store, from donut pick-up in the beginning to apple cider slushies and check-out at the end.


Donuts.  Yes, I said donuts.  While you inevitably pick up a gallon of cider to bring home, you actually go to the cider mill for their fresh cinnamon donuts.  It was Andrew’s idea and I was 100% on board.  Not sure what’s gotten into me lately…I’m on a donut-kick of some sort.  (Promptly taking myself OFF the donut train as of this morning, thankyouverymuch.)


We grabbed a gallon of cider, a small jar of apple butter, a bag of cinnamon apple chips (a favorite of mine), an apple cider slushie (better than it sounds, I promise) and headed to a nearby Starbucks to enjoy our treats.  We got a mix of the traditional cinnamon-sugar-dusted and a couple for me to try (cream cheese frosted, caramel frosted), and I think a whopping SIX may have been consumed in total.  (I may not have felt guilty about enjoying those delicious donuts, but I certainly didn’t feel great afterward, either.)

While our fall date was no walk in the park (literally) or pumpkin patch, it was a few hours in which we forgot about the to-do lists, spent time together and enjoyed a fall tradition. Perhaps we’ll make it back to Pumpkinville next year.