If your love for “pumpkin spice” and all things pumpkin nice is beginning to wane or you were never a fan to begin, perhaps it is time to pigeon-hole those sweets and lattes and look at different ways to use the vitamin rich pumpkin (or squash). The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, a plant carotenoid which converts to Vitamin A in the body. Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene reduces the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and some degenerative diseases. Besides beta-carotene, pumpkin is also packed with Vitamins C and K, fiber, and other important nutrients while being low in calories.
Pumpkin is a surprisingly versatile product with a smooth, warming quality that lends itself well to creamy textures. Squash, such as butternut, can be substituted for pumpkin. Since all recipes do not use a whole can of pumpkin or the flesh of a whole pumpkin or squash, you may need to think of multiple uses for it. Pumpkin/squash puree is good for 5-7 days in the refrigerator or 2-3 months in the freezer. Here are a few of the ways I use pumpkin/squash puree or a can of pumpkin that are an alternative to pumpkin spice and traditional desserts along with some recipes from my recipe box.
Drinks, smoothies, and yogurt parfaits
Thickening for chili soup, marinara sauce, or curries
Yeast breads and rolls
Pancakes or waffles
Vegetarian burgers (can also be used in meat burgers)
Ravioli or lasagna filling
Pumpkin Orange Smoothie
½ cup Greek yogurt (or substitute)
¼ cup milk or substitute
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
Blend until smooth; serve cold.
Black Bean Pumpkin Burgers
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 garlic cloves
1 small onion
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 14-oz can black beans, drained, rinsed or 2 cups cooked black beans
Place all ingredients and half of the beans in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add remaining beans and pulse until just slightly chopped. Form into patties. Place patties on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 325F for 40-45 minutes. Makes 4 burgers.
2 cloves garlic
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin or 1 ¾ cups puree
2 tablespoons almond or peanut butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon olive oil
Dash cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
Pumpkin seeds (optional)
Puree all ingredients in a food processor. Add ice water until desired consistency is achieved. Garnish with pumpkin seeds.
Cheesy Pumpkin Crackers
1 cup gluten-free flour blend
½ t salt
½ t pepper
3 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon water
Mix all ingredients together. Roll 1/8” thick on parchment paper. Cut into squares or designs with a cookie cutter. Use a fork to poke holes in top. Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 15 minutes at 400F.
Let’s spread the word. Pumpkins are not just for baking into pies, bread, or bars, displaying on your stoop, or carving into jack-o-lanterns. Pumpkin is a delicious addition to many kinds of food.