There’s nothing like seeing that beautiful pop of orange in a green salad or in a vegetable stir-fry. What makes this unique vegetable color so vibrant? Beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is the red-orange pigment found in fruits and vegetables, especially carrots and pumpkin. This nutrient is converted by our bodies into vitamin A which helps improve eyesight, maintain healthy skin, and enhance immune function. This is why Mom and Dad always told you to eat your carrots at the dinner table. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid meaning that beta-carotene is an antioxidant. I know I have talked about antioxidants before and, if you remember, antioxidants are those little guys that help protect our bodies from free radical damage. This helps prevent chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease.

Some foods rich in beta-carotene:

  • Carrots
  • Apricots
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach

These are just a few of the many foods rich in beta-carotene.

To incorporate beta-carotene into your diet, try roasting broccoli and carrots with dinner, making a spinach salad for lunch, or even having a fruit cup with apricots for dessert.

Now I don’t recommend we consume our antioxidants in the form of sweet treats, but I thought that this could be a fun recipe especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner. I modified this snickerdoodle recipe by substituting half of the shortening with pumpkin puree and using pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon on the outside.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. With a mixer, cream together pumpkin puree, shortening, and sugar. Once creamed, add eggs and beat until combined. Add remaining ingredients and mix until dry ingredients are just combined.DSCN1725
  2. In a small bowl mix together 4 Tbs sugar and 4 tsp pumpkin pie spice. Using a cookie scoop, scoop balls of cookie dough and roll in sugar mixture. Place sugar covered cookie dough balls on cookie sheet  about 2 inches apart. Bake in oven for 10 minutes.