Pumpkin Cocoa Smoothie

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Published October 22, 2023

This flavorful smoothie will awaken your taste buds.

Our Pumpkin Spice Green Smoothie is a unique fusion of flavors and nutrients that combines the creaminess of pumpkin puree, the sweetness of frozen banana, and the surprising addition of crisp iceberg lettuce. With a touch of warming spices like turmeric and nutmeg, as well as a hint of rich cocoa powder, this smoothie transforms into a wholesome indulgence.

Whether you're looking for a quick breakfast option, a post-workout refresher, or simply a delightful way to enjoy your greens, this recipe has got you covered. 

Pumpkin Perfection: A Nutrient-Rich Superfood for All Seasons

Pumpkin is a nutrient-rich vegetable that offers a variety of vitamins, minerals, and health benefits. Here's a look at its nutritional profile and its suitability for people living with diabetes:

Vitamins and Minerals: Pumpkin is packed with essential nutrients, including:

  • Vitamin A: Pumpkin is exceptionally high in beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision, skin, and immune function.

  • Vitamin C: This vitamin acts as an antioxidant, supporting immune health and collagen production.

  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that plays a role in skin health and immune function.

  • Potassium: Pumpkin is a good source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and maintain proper muscle and nerve function.

  • Fiber: Pumpkin contains dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, promotes satiety, and helps manage blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of glucose.

Pumpkin has a relatively low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL), making it a favorable choice for people with diabetes. The GI measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels, while the GL takes into account both the GI and the portion size.

Pumpkin's low GI and GL mean that it has a modest impact on blood sugar when consumed in reasonable portions. This makes it a diabetes-friendly option, especially when prepared without added sugars or unhealthy fats.

Additionally, pumpkin's high fiber content can further assist in blood sugar management. Fiber slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, preventing rapid spikes in blood glucose levels after meals.

While pumpkin itself is a healthy choice for those with diabetes, it's essential to consider how you prepare it. Avoid adding excessive sugar, syrups, or unhealthy fats when making pumpkin dishes. Instead, opt for recipes that use natural sweeteners in moderation or savory preparations like roasting or pureeing without added sugars.

In summary, pumpkin is a nutritious and diabetes-friendly vegetable due to its low glycemic index and load, as well as its rich vitamin and mineral content. Including pumpkin in your diet, particularly in balanced and whole-food preparations, can be a beneficial part of managing blood sugar levels and enjoying its delightful flavors and health benefits.

Bananas: The Sweet and Nutrient-Packed Friend of Diabetes Wellness

Bananas are a nutritional powerhouse, providing a wealth of essential vitamins and minerals. They contain vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant, supporting immune health and promoting healthy skin. Additionally, bananas are a good source of vitamin B6, which plays a critical role in brain development and function, as well as the metabolism of carbohydrates. 

Their high potassium content is noteworthy, aiding in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure, muscle function, and nerve function. This combination of vitamins and minerals makes bananas a well-rounded choice for overall health.

Bananas are also rich in dietary fiber, which is vital for digestive health and can be particularly beneficial for individuals living with diabetes. Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates in the digestive tract. 

This gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream can help prevent sharp spikes in blood sugar after meals. Additionally, the fiber in bananas promotes a feeling of fullness, which can support weight management efforts, a crucial aspect of diabetes management.

Bananas have a moderate glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). The GI measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels, while the GL takes into account both the GI and the portion size. For a medium-sized ripe banana, the GI typically falls in the range of 48 to 55, making them a reasonable choice for individuals with diabetes. 

The glycemic load of a banana is relatively low due to its fiber content, indicating that it has a mild impact on blood glucose levels when consumed in moderation. However, the ripeness of the banana can influence its GI, with riper bananas having a higher GI.

In summary, bananas offer a plethora of essential vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious choice for individuals of all ages. Their moderate glycemic index and low glycemic load, combined with their fiber content, generally make them suitable for people living with diabetes.

Turmeric: The Golden Spice for Diabetes Health and Flavorful Living

Turmeric is a vibrant and flavorful spice that has been used for centuries, primarily in traditional medicine and culinary practices. It offers a range of potential health benefits, including its suitability for people living with diabetes. Here's an overview of the nutritional benefits of turmeric and its relevance to diabetes management:

Active Compound: The primary active compound in turmeric is curcumin, which is responsible for many of its health-promoting properties.

Vitamins and Minerals: Turmeric is not typically consumed in large quantities, so it doesn't provide significant amounts of vitamins and minerals. However, it does contain small amounts of essential nutrients like manganese and iron.

Anti-Inflammatory: Turmeric is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties, primarily attributed to curcumin. Chronic inflammation is associated with various health conditions, including diabetes. By reducing inflammation, turmeric may help improve insulin sensitivity and overall metabolic health.

Antioxidant: Curcumin is also a potent antioxidant, which means it can neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. This antioxidant activity can support overall health and may play a role in diabetes management by protecting cells from oxidative damage.

Blood Glucose Regulation: Some studies suggest that curcumin may help regulate blood glucose levels by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance. It may also support the function of pancreatic cells that produce insulin.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load: Turmeric itself is not a significant source of carbohydrates, so it has a negligible glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). It should not significantly impact blood sugar levels when used as a spice in recipes or consumed in moderation.

Cautions: While turmeric is generally considered safe when used in culinary amounts, high doses of curcumin supplements may interact with certain medications or have potential side effects. It's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before using curcumin supplements, especially if you are taking medications or have specific health concerns.

In summary, turmeric, particularly its active compound curcumin, offers various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may support diabetes management. It is a flavorful and colorful addition to a balanced diet, and using it in culinary dishes can provide not only a delicious taste but also potential health advantages.

Pumpkin Cocoa Smoothie

Beverly Verwey
Servings 1 person
Calories 374 kcal


  • 1 cup oat milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen banana sliced
  • 3 cups iceberg lettuce chopped
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/16 tsp black pepper


  • Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.


Instead of canned pumpkin, use pureed freshly cooked pumpkin.


Calories: 374kcalCarbohydrates: 68gProtein: 9gFat: 5.9gSodium: 209.4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD is a New York Times bestselling co-author of Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes.

He is the co-founder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green, and is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002. He co-created the Mastering Diabetes Method to reverse insulin resistance in all forms of diabetes, and has helped more than 10,000 people improve their metabolic health using low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition, intermittent fasting, and exercise.

Cyrus earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2003, then earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. He is the co-author of many peer-reviewed scientific publications.

He is the co-host of the annual Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, a featured speaker at the Plant-Based Nutrition and Healthcare Conference (PBNHC), the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference (ACLM), Plant Stock, the Torrance Memorial Medical Center, and has been featured on The Doctors, NPR, KQED, Forks Over Knives, Healthline, Fast Company, Diet Fiction, and the wildly popular podcasts the Rich Roll Podcast, Plant Proof, MindBodyGreen, and Nutrition Rounds.

Scientific Publications:

Sarver, Jordan, Cyrus Khambatta, Robby Barbaro, Bhakti Chavan, and David Drozek. “Retrospective Evaluation of an Online Diabetes Health Coaching Program: A Pilot Study.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, October 15, 2019, 1559827619879106. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827619879106

Shrivastav, Maneesh, William Gibson, Rajendra Shrivastav, Katie Elzea, Cyrus Khambatta, Rohan Sonawane, Joseph A. Sierra, and Robert Vigersky. “Type 2 Diabetes Management in Primary Care: The Role of Retrospective, Professional Continuous Glucose Monitoring.” Diabetes Spectrum: A Publication of the American Diabetes Association 31, no. 3 (August 2018): 279–87. https://doi.org/10.2337/ds17-0024

Thompson, Airlia C. S., Matthew D. Bruss, John C. Price, Cyrus F. Khambatta, William E. Holmes, Marc Colangelo, Marcy Dalidd, et al. “Reduced in Vivo Hepatic Proteome Replacement Rates but Not Cell Proliferation Rates Predict Maximum Lifespan Extension in Mice.” Aging Cell 15, no. 1 (February 2016): 118–27. https://doi.org/10.1111/acel.12414

Roohk, Donald J., Smita Mascharak, Cyrus Khambatta, Ho Leung, Marc Hellerstein, and Charles Harris. “Dexamethasone-Mediated Changes in Adipose Triacylglycerol Metabolism Are Exaggerated, Not Diminished, in the Absence of a Functional GR Dimerization Domain.” Endocrinology 154, no. 4 (April 2013): 1528–39. https://doi.org/10.1210/en.2011-1047

Price, John C., Cyrus F. Khambatta, Kelvin W. Li, Matthew D. Bruss, Mahalakshmi Shankaran, Marcy Dalidd, Nicholas A. Floreani, et al. “The Effect of Long Term Calorie Restriction on in Vivo Hepatic Proteostatis: A Novel Combination of Dynamic and Quantitative Proteomics.” Molecular & Cellular Proteomics: MCP 11, no. 12 (December 2012): 1801–14.

Bruss, Matthew D., Airlia C. S. Thompson, Ishita Aggarwal, Cyrus F. Khambatta, and Marc K. Hellerstein. “The Effects of Physiological Adaptations to Calorie Restriction on Global Cell Proliferation Rates.” American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism 300, no. 4 (April 2011): E735-745. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00661.2010

Bruss, Matthew D., Cyrus F. Khambatta, Maxwell A. Ruby, Ishita Aggarwal, and Marc K. Hellerstein. “Calorie Restriction Increases Fatty Acid Synthesis and Whole Body Fat Oxidation Rates.” American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism 298, no. 1 (January 2010): E108-116.