Comfort Foods: Sweet Potato Vs. Pumpkin

It’s chilly in the air and you feel cold. Your body is craving something comforting to make you feel all warm and fuzzy! For most of us, we turn to something that’s full of carbs, creams, butter and oh-so full of calories! However, good ol’ comfort foods don’t have to destroy your waistline (even though we know it is under wraps for the next few months) or your calorie budget for the day thanks to two very yummy and very healthy ingredients. Say hello to the pumpkin and the sweet potato!

OK, we know what you’re thinking: these two foods are purees that we add sugar, butter, whipping cream, marshmallows and pie crust to! Well, think again! Try the recipes in this article and you are sure to keep your waist and weight in check, while allowing your taste buds to rejoice!


This fruit is one of the most nutritious fruits available. Not only is it low in fat and calories, but it’s also high in fiber. Pumpkins’ disease and anti-aging properties are mighty impressive, too! The powerful anti-oxidants vitamin A, C and E found in pumpkin help to protect the cell membranes within the body, maintain the integrity of the skin and protect against lung and oral cavity cancers. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in bone and tooth formation, digestion and blood cell formation.

The alpha-carotene and beta-carotene promote healthy vision, ensure proper immune function and may also reverse skin damage caused by the sun. The carotenoids further boost immunity and lessen the risk of heart disease. These facts lead many physicians and dietitians to recommend pumpkin to their patients with cholesterol issues. If that isn’t enough, pumpkin is also rich in minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.


Pumpkins may not be as easy to find year round, unless in a can, but sweet potatoes are! Like its partner, pumpkin, sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrients. Similar to pumpkin, the sweet potato is high in carotenoids and vitamins B, C and E.

Additionally, sweet potatoes are high in vitamin D, iron and magnesium. Vitamin D, traditionally known as the “sun” vitamin, is responsible for our energy levels, building healthy bones, nerves, blood vessels, skin and teeth. It is critical to consume this vitamin during the colder months of the year when we spend less time outside in the sun.


Ounce per ounce, there are quite a few differences between pumpkins and sweet potatoes, and these key factors are what will make you choose one vs. the other when it comes to cooking! Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and have nine times as much sugar per cup, as well as five times more calories than pumpkin however, they are also higher in fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.

Pumpkin, although not as sweet, is clearly the “low-carb” option. The most important choice for many will be taste! “The taste difference between sweet potatoes and pumpkin is noticeable in baking because the prolonged heat enhances the flavor,” says Trinity Perkins, a certified personal trainer, nutrition consultant and owner of Train with Trin in Woodbridge, Virginia. “The difference is slight but sweet potatoes simply taste much sweeter without the extra spice kick of the pumpkin.”

Pumpkin Protein Shake (perfect for post workout)

  • 1 scoop chocolate MaxPro or Triple Whey vanilla protein powder or MaxPro Cinnamon Spice protein
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbs natural peanut butter
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Stevia to taste
  • Handful of ice cubes

Instructions: Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender. You can add water for a thinner consistency.

Loaded Sweet Potato

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 tsp vanilla milk
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • ¼ cup walnut halves
  • 1 oz cranberries
  • 3 chopped dates
  • Drizzle of agave nectar

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and cut the sweet potato in half vertically, not down the center. Wrap each half in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness (to save time, microwave the sweet potato on high for 8-10 minutes). Remove from the oven and let the potato cool. Scoop out the center of the potato from each half. Mix the milk, nutmeg, walnuts and cranberries, dates and sweet potato together. Place the mixture back in the sweet potato skins. Drizzle a small amount of agave nectar on each sweet potato.

By Corry Matthews