Good Mood Orange Foods: 8 Pumpkin Breakfasts

Eating more rainbow foods boosts mental fitness and brain health. Each color is caused by specific phytochemicals phytochemicals (natural chemical compounds) that

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C and carotenoids. There are more than 600 different types of carotenoids! These beneficial nutrients can

  • protect you from disease and enhance your immune system
  • some carotenoids convert to vitamin A in your body
  • Vitamin A helps promote healthy vision, cell growth and is essential nutrient for your brain health. It  facilitates neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to build new neurons and create new connections
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Drew Ramsey, MD” source_title=”Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety” full_quote=”Eating rainbow fruits and vegetables is a great way to not only get important phytochemicals, but also fiber for the good bugs in your gut to thrive on. Flavonoids are responsible for the bright colors of these foods – and you can only get these health-promoting molecules in the plants you eat. Orange options get their sunny color from carotenoids, which convert into brain-boosting vitamin A.” short_quote=”Orange plant foods get their sunny color from carotenoids, which convert into brain-boosting vitamin A.”]

An easy way to eat more good mood orange foods is to put pumpkin into your breakfast.  Here are 8 of my favorite pumpkin breakfast recipes because they are delicious and nutrient dense. All can be made with canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling) – a great time saver. These recipes are good sources of:

  • healthy fats from nature
  • carbs from vegetables and fruit
  • Vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals
  • Fiber
  • spices

Boost the protein content by enjoying with Greek yogurt or kefir, or having hard boiled eggs or breakfast sausage on the side with the baked oatmeal and pancakes.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl – Hummusapien

I add plain Greek yogurt or kefir for protein, and 1 tablespoon of flax or hemp seeds.

Skinny Pumpkin Granola – Minimalist Baker

Granola is a staple in my kitchen. I always make a double batch, usually a variation of CMF Granola, but this caught my attention for the additional nutrients: flaxseeds and the combination of oats and quinoa. It’s delicious, nutritious!

Enjoy granola over a plain-Greek yogurt, with a tablespoon of hempseed/ground flaxseed and tossed with seasonal fruit.

Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding – Eat the Gains

This makes a marvelous breakfast parfait – simply layer chia pudding with plain Greek yogurt  or granola, or both!

OR add 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa to the chia pudding for more nutrient density. Add more milk of choice to desired texture.

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats – My Whole Life

A favorite because I can make it ahead. I always multiply by 4 and put in mason jars so breakfast is easy.


  • Chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts usually)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Fresh, chopped pear on occasion

Make Ahead Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal – Kiwi and Bean

When the temperature drops and calls for hot breakfast, this is a delicious, nutritious option that you can make ahead. I love the option of millet as an extra grain. Replace with quinoa or buckwheat – I cook the additional grain with the oatmeal rather than toasting to put it on top.

Top with

  • Ground flaxeed or hempseed
  • Granola
  • Chopped nuts
  • Dried cranberries

Double (or triple depending on your family size)

Creamy Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast – Cotter Crunch

In winter months I alternate between hot oatmeal breakfasts and this type of quinoa breakfast. Make the night before and warm up individual portions the morning as needed. Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and sprinkle with granola for texture contrast.

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal – Joy of Sunshine

Use old-fashioned oats. I really like the apple sauce in this and reduce maple syrup by half. Make it the night before. Keep the cream cheese separate. Warm up in the morning and top with some of the cream cheese.

It also freezes nicely in individual portions. Makes a great after school snack.

Pumpkin Quinoa Pancakes – Simply Quinoa

Pancakes are always popular at our house, so I’ve searched out more nutrient-dense options. These are hearty and filling. As always, make a double (or triple batch) and freeze for later in the week. In general I make sausage too. They freeze well.

Top with:

What to Do?

  1. Make a double batch of the pumpkin granola as a staple for the month
  2. Choose either chia pudding or overnight oats and make enough to have a couple times throughout the week
  3. OR instead of cold chip pudding/overnight oats, make oatmeal one week and quinoa the next
  4. Make pancakes or muffins on the weekend. Double batch to have throughout the week.

Voila! You have a whole week of breakfast.

Originally published November 2021

Good Mood Rainbow Foods

What colors are on your plate? How many colors from nature do you eat each day?

Rainbow vegetables and fruits are powerful brain foods. They provide the micronutrients necessary for your physical and mental health:

Rich in powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and DNA-enhancing properties, they fuel your brain, provide essential nutrients and reduce inflammation. There is a strong link between inflammation, mood, and mental health.

Loaded with fiber, these foods also feed the good bacteria in your gut.  The trillions of bacteria in your gut influence your mood, brain functions and mental health. Rainbow foods are good mood foods.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Drew Ramsey, MD” source_title=”Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety” full_quote=”Mother Nature created a world full of brightly colored fruits and vegetables – all with their own unique phytonutrients to promote health. These rainbows – sometimes referred to as “brainbows” – are chockful of fiber and phytonutrients. Flavonoids are responsible for the bright colors. Purple foods like eggplant and berries, boast phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which have amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Orange options like carrots and sweet potatoes, get their sunny color from, which convert into brain-boosting vitamin A. Reds – from strawberries to tomatoes – signal lycopene, an antioxidant dynamo.” short_quote=”Mother Nature created a world full of brightly colored vegetables, all with their own unique phytonutrients to promote health”]

Here is a quick list of rainbow foods, and reasons to eat them. How many of these foods do you eat?

Greens are SO nutrient-dense, I’ve written about them separately — Good Mood Leafy Greens. and 10 Ways to Boost Your Mood with Leafy Greens. Aim to eat greens every day.


Colors Foods Benefits
Red Beets

Cherries / Cranberries

Kidney beans

Red apples and pears

Red bell peppers

Red cabbage


Red potatoes

Red quinoa



Improves memory and mood

Decrease brain fog

Improves digestion

Improves heart health

Lowers blood pressure

Orange Carrots


Peaches /apricots




Butternut squash

Sweet potatoes

Improves digestion

Boosts immunity

Helps cells communicate

Prevents cellular damage

Improves better cognitive performance reduces risk of cognitive decline

Purple Blueberries / Blackberries




Purple grapes

Purple carrots

Purple cabbage

Purple potatoes

Black quinoa

Black beans

Improves memory

Improves circulation

Boosts brain activity

Boosts immunity

Improves digestion

Blood sugar regulation

White Onions / garlic









White radishes

White beans

Reduces blood pressure

Boosts immunity

Helps new cell growth

Improves blood circulation

Helps detoxification

Protects cells

What to Do?

Which fruits and veggies do you regularly eat?  What can you add to build a rainbow in your meals?

  • Identify opportunities to make small, positive changes.
  • Find ways to build a rainbow in every meal.
  • Expand your palate and maximize the range of nutrients that are beneficial to your brain.
  • Eat for pleasure. Eat for life!

Here are a couple of ways to put more colors on your plate:

Bean Salads

Potato Salads

Grain Bowls – Wholefully

Sheet Pan Dinners – Cooking Classy

Sheet Pan Dinners

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Leslie Korn” source_title=”Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health” full_quote=”Eat all the colors of the “brainbow”. Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods from the whole color spectrum to obtain your nutrients. Preparing fresh food is an act of self-nourishment, emotionally as well as physically. The stressors of modern-day life cause us to dissociate from the simple, self-care rituals that invigorate us. Food gathering, preparation, and sharing is a ritual that when done well, leads is into a parasympathetic state of relaxation and provides the endorphin rush of attachment and connection.” short_quote=”Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods from the whole color spectrum to obtain your nutrients.”]

Next Steps

  • Aim for at least 3 – 4 colors on your plate each meal
  • List the fruits and veggies you regularly eat
  • Try 1 new veggie each week
  • Find new ways with a veggie you love
    • Breakfast smoothie
    • Grain bowl
    • Roasted, pureed, shredded
  • Share! Let me know how it goes. I’d love to cheer you on 😊

Updated from August 2021 post.