Pumpkins are synonymous with Fall. Lucky for us they have great health properties as well. Pumpkins are an excellent source of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Our bodies translate beta carotene into Vitamin A, which is thought to protect us from certain cancers and other diseases, too. In addition, Vitamin A is helpful for keeping your eyesight strong. Pumpkins are also a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. The seeds are even good for us, containing fiber and protein; they are also an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, and monounsaturated fat. So let’s use them in some recipes to ring in the season.
Easy Pumpkin Dip
- 3/4 cup low-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Beat cream cheese, brown sugar, and canned pumpkin together with an electric mixer on medium speed in a bowl until light and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add maple syrup and cinnamon and beat until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Makes 12 servings at 78 calories a serving.
- 1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Place the pumpkin puree in a freezer bag; store in freezer for at least 24 hours.
- Heat the bag of pumpkin puree in the microwave on HIGH to soften, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour the milk into a blender. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin; blend until smooth.
Note: If the pumpkin flavor is too intense, add a banana or apple to adjust.
Makes 4 servings at 155 calories a serving
Pumpkin Chipotle Soup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
- 2 tablespoons sofrito
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until the flour has turned golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until no lumps remain, then add the chipotle peppers, half-and-half cream, sofrito, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and paprika. Return to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 8 minutes until thickened and hot.
Makes 8 servings at 145 calories a serving.
Pumpkin Oat Bars
- 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan.
- Stir oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and kosher salt together in a bowl; make a well in the center. Pour half-and-half, egg, and vanilla extract into well in the center of the oat mixture; stir to combine. Add pumpkin to half-and-half oat mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour pumpkin batter into prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Makes 9 servings at 117 calories per serving.
Recipes courtesy of allrecipes.com
Now, I understand that we will all be inundated with pumpkin spiced and flavored items everywhere but these are most likely healthier alternatives to others out there. So remember, pumpkins aren’t just for carving, they can also be a nutritious addition to our diets.
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