With Halloween just around the corner, the supermarkets are filling up with pumpkins. But instead of carving the flesh out to make your ‘jack-o-lantern’, why not try eating it, for healthier, smoother skin?

Butternut squash and pumpkin work from the inside out, thanks to its rich supply of pH-balancing and skin-cell-turnover-boosting vitamin A and C

The Right Balance

Butternut squash is one of the best things you can eat to get more vitamin A from your diet. And you want more, because vitamin A and healthy skin go hand in hand. The nutrient helps keep your skin’s pH on the acidic side (just enough to keep bacteria at bay) and promotes cell turnover, so your skin doesn’t become dry, rough, and scaly. As if that weren’t enough, winter squash also gives you sunburn-protective and wrinkle-fighting beta-carotene and vitamin C.

Vitamin C

Antioxidants—like vitamin C—help turn back the clock. An October 2007 study found that people who ate foods rich in vitamin C had fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those whose diets contained only small amounts of the vitamin. Vitamin C helps form collagen, which smooth’s fine lines and wrinkles.

The key seems to be vitamin C’s ability to fight free radicals, a by-product of cell metabolism in your body. Free radicals are thought to attack proteins, fats, and DNA—and break down collagen. Vitamin C also seems to guard against ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can lead to freckles and a mottled complexion.

And it is more versatile than you think.

Most people associate pumpkin and squash with savory dishes, but it makes a great alternative to carrot in cakes. This muffin recipe gives moist and sweet cakes and doesn’t contain butter so not only is it skin friendly, its waist friendly too.

Butternut Squash Muffins

Ingredients

  • 400g Butternut Squash or Pumpkin, Skin On, Deseeded & Roughly Chopped
  • 350g Light Soft Brown Sugar
  • 4 Large Free-Range Or Organic Eggs
  • Sea Salt
  • 300g Plain Flour, Unsifted
  • 2 Heaped Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • A Handful Of Walnuts
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 175ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line your muffin tins with paper cases.

Whiz the squash in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten. You may need to pause the machine at some point to scrape the mix down the sides with a rubber spatula. Try not to overdo it with the mixing – you want to just combine everything and no more.

Fill the paper cases with the cake mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whether they are cooked properly by sticking a wooden skewer or a knife right into one of the cakes – if it comes out clean, they’re done. If it’s a bit sticky, pop them back into the oven for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.

I like to ice these with cream cheese blended with icing sugar, much like a traditional carrot cake topping. You can sprinkle them with chopped walnuts, but I like to use dried edible lavender and orange zest for a more fragrant change!