Pumpkin Power: 4 Recipes Featuring America’s Favorite Squash

From lattes and lasagnas to soups and salads, pumpkin is suitable for endless culinary creations. It’s also a nutritional powerhouse.

Pumpkin’s deep orange color means it’s packed with powerful compounds called carotenoids. Carotenoids have been linked to cancer prevention, reduced risk of heart disease, and improved vision, according to the American Society for Nutritional Sciences. This fruit also comes with beaucoup beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. By doing so, the production and activity of white blood cells is stimulated, according to Harvard Health.

The palate prefers the sugar pumpkin—aka pie pumpkin—with its sweet, tender flesh. The common field pumpkin is grainier and stringier. Whether you choose to eat this winter squash from a can or fresh from the farmer’s market, use the pumpkin-powered goodness in these four recipes.  

Note: When selecting canned pumpkin, select pumpkin purée instead of pumpkin pie filling, which is high in sugar.

Pumpkin Soup

This seasonal favorite, adapted from the Chopra Center Cookbook, is savory and satisfying on a cool day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sugar pumpkin (approximately 3 pounds) or 3 cups canned pumpkin purée
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash the pumpkin, cut it in half with a sharp knife, and remove the seeds.

Brush the flesh with oil and place face down on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the skin. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes, and then peel away the skin. Place the pumpkin pulp in a bowl and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and spices. Sauté for approximately 5 minutes or until slightly browned and translucent. Add vegetable stock if the mixture begins to dry out.

Next, add the pumpkin pulp and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tamari and brown the pumpkin slightly. Add the vegetable staccato, cover the pumpkin, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. With an emulsion blender (or blender) purée the soup until smooth and creamy. Add the maple syrup.

Garnish with a dusting of nutmeg.

Serves 4

Heartwarming Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Give yourself a double dose of soluble fiber with pumpkin and oats that will make you feel full longer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Dash of sea salt

Directions:

Melt the coconut oil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the steel cut oats and toast until mildly fragrant, approximately 2 minutes. Pour in 3 cups of hot water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for about 25 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes.

In a bowl whisk together pumpkin and vanilla almond milk until it become smooth. Stir into the steel cut oats. Next, stir in vanilla extract, pumpkin spice, and smidge of sea salt. Simmer on low for approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 5

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

The sweet, tender flesh of pumpkin is especially good on cool weekend mornings. This pancake recipe will place a smile on any pumpkin-lover’s face.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 2 tablespoon flax meal
  • 2 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pumkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baing soda
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Directions:

Preheat pan to medium-low heat with 2 spoonfuls of coconut oil or olive oil. In a bowl or blender, combine all ingredients. 

When the pan is warm and a test of batter sizzles, pour the mixture onto the pan in small silver dollar size pancakes and cook each side until golden brown and cooked thoroughly. Note: use the back side of a spatula to press down on the cooked side of the pancake to lessen cooking time. 

Serves 2

Real Simple Pumpkin-Seed Dressing

Pumpkin seeds are concentrated sources of protein and loaded with minerals like zinc that help keep the immune system strong to combat seasonal colds. They also offer manganese for free-radical scavenging activity. And last but certainly not least, they offer muscle-relaxing magnesium that is thought to play a role in deflecting anxiety.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon umeboshi vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve over raw or cooked greens for a slightly crunchy, flavor-filled sauce.

Additional Tip:Top seeds (plain or toasted) on soups, spread over oatmeal, use as a base for pesto, or enjoy plain as a midday snack.

Serves 8 to 10

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About the Author

Fran Benedict

Health and Nutrition Counselor
Fran Benedict is a certified health and nutrition counselor and the founder of SimplyMindful.com . She has been on a path of health promotion and behavior for more than 15 years and loves discovering new ways to bring attention and intention into everyday life. She believes in the extraordinary power of the mind to create a quality of life every person deserves, with an emphasis on the relation to oneself as the foundation for everything else. A member of American Association of Drugless Practitioners, Fran enjoys supporting a range of health-promotion initiatives from multi-week wellness programs in the corporate setting, to nutritional...Read more