Pumpkin Breakfast Energy Drink from the AICR


As one of the foremost cancer research institutes in the nation, the American Institute for Cancer Research leads the way in making evidence-based recommendations that promote lifestyle choices among the public that can prevent the development of some cancers. To this end, every other week their test kitchen offers a new and delicious recipe.

This week: a pumpkin-based breakfast energy drink.

Many people find eating the recommended amount of vegetables and fruits daunting. With this Breakfast Energy Drink it is more easily done. Load up your blender, press a button and you have one antidote to a lack of cancer fighting nutrients and fiber in your diet – a breakfast drink that’s nutrient rich and delicious.

Super greens, kale and spinach, are the leafy base providing a plethora of vitamins, most notably vitamin C and vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene. This recipe calls for blending your favorite fruit, nuts and seeds. As a result, the flavors and colors will vary, which is the point. Find which fruit works best for you, as each has its own level of sweetness or tartness. Take advantage of seasonal fruits. Using previously frozen or store-bought frozen fruits makes a thicker, colder drink.

This recipe has a core fruit ingredient. Pumpkin. Although its flavor and color are masked by other fruit, pumpkin adds a boost of beta-carotene and fiber. A 15-ounce can is enough for five recipes, so one can will last almost a week. For convenience and a thicker consistency, freeze the pumpkin in one-third cup portions. Chia seeds thicken the drink and are loaded with protein, fiber and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Don’t be fooled by their size. These tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch.

Your choice of nuts – such as almonds, pecans and walnuts – and seeds – such as pumpkin and sesame – add protein, fiber and their respective health-promoting phytonutrients. They do give drinks a slightly grittier texture than your typical smoothies, so use a straw if preferred. Milk also contributes protein. If using soymilk or other plant-based milk, then buy calcium-fortified ones. Using sweetened or unsweetened is your choice depending on your calorie needs. Science is revealing the health benefits of spices, so we make use of cinnamon and nutmeg for their sweet flavors and nutritional benefits. Cheers!

Breakfast Energy Drink

  • 2 medium kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 cup spinach leaves loosely packed
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit
  • 1/3 cup plain canned pumpkin
  • 3 Tbsp. seeds or nuts
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1¼ cups soy or dairy milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 6-8 ice cubes (1 cup)


Combine all ingredients in blender or food processer and blend on high until smooth. Let sit for 1 minute to thicken before serving.

Makes 2 servings. About 1½ cups per serving.

Per serving: 231 calories, 12 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 24 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 111 mg sodium.

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