Fall Brain Food Smoothie: Gingered Pumpkin Spice

What are some small food changes that improve brain nutrition?

One simple step we prescribe at the Brain Food Clinic is:

Eat the Rainbow

The different colors in plants represent different “phyto-nutrients”, or plant molecules that influence our health. Red usually means lycopene, levels of which are linked to your risk of dementia. Orange means the presence of carotenoids, which are critical to the health of brain and nerve cells.

With Fall upon us (and the Pumpkin Spice Latte craze heating up again), I wanted to help you get a little carotenoid pop in your morning. And here’s a bonus. The Gingered Pumpkin Smoothie recipe below from Eat Complete delivers more than phytonutrients, you’ll also get 179% of the RDA for Vitamin A, 57% for Vitamin C, 40% for Fiber, and 35% for Magnesium 35%.

Gingered Pumpkin Smoothie

Serves 2

Help preserve your brain with carotenoids, as these orange-yellow plant pigments come with a bevy of health benefits (and are linked to a decreased risk of dementia). This smoothie is based on creamy 100 percent organic canned pumpkin; pair that with a carrot, and you’re starting the day with two top sources of beta-carotene. The recipe calls for only 1 cup of pumpkin, so preserve the remainder in the refrigerator in an airtight container, or freeze if you aren’t planning to use it again within five days. The ginger makes the recipe pop. Add curry powder and black pepper and you’re in for a savory nutritious treat; the pepper unlocks the benefits of the turmeric in curry by increasing the absorption of curcumin by 2,000 percent.


1 cup 100 percent pure organic canned pumpkin
1 orange, peeled
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1⁄2 cup plain, 2 percent yogurt or plain kefir
1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds
1⁄4 cup cashews
1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon turmeric or curry powder (optional)
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
4 ice cubes
1⁄2 cup cold water

Place the pumpkin, orange, carrot, yogurt or plain kefir, sunflower seeds, cashews, ginger, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, curry powder, if using, and pepper in a blender along with the ice cubes and cold water and process until smooth. Divide evenly between two glasses and serve immediately.

Turmeric (an ingredient in curry powder) is a superspice in the ginger family that has wide-reaching healing benefits due to its anti-inflammatory properties. This yellow spice makes for a nice addition to this smoothie without altering its fruity flavor. Shop for turmeric in the spice aisle of your local grocery store.

Enjoy and let us know how you like it!



Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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  1. My family loves this smoothie! It’s in our weekly rotation. I’m curious about what your thoughts are on water kefir. I bought the water kefir grains from Real Kefir and make it at home using organic cane sugar. I’m substituting the dairy kefir with this water kefir. Is this as good, better, or worse?

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