Sunday, November 8, 2009

Market Melissa: Pumpkin Passion

Melissa O'Shea (aka Market Melissa) tackles Pumpkin.

On Market Foodtraining tours, I encourage participants to buy one new fruit or vegetable each time they are at the farmers’ market or supermarket. What inevitably happens is that I then receive questions such as “what does one do with purple kale?” I decided it would be fun to pick a vegetable, pretend I am the client, and see what I could find. Since Halloween was only a few days ago and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, pumpkin was the first veggie to come to mind.

Pumpkins (a winter squash) are loaded with beta-carotene which is a potent antioxidant and a precursor for Vitamin A (needed for healthy vision). One cup of cooked pumpkin has only50 calories, 3 grams of fiber and zero grams of fat. And don’t discard the seeds, they are loaded with protein, healthy fats and zinc, which is good for immunity.

When cooking, pumpkin certainly isn’t just for pumpkin pie! Try adding pumpkin puree to oatmeal or bread mixes, toasting some pumpkin seeds and adding them to salads, or carving into the pumpkin flesh and using it in soups or roasting it in the oven and enjoying it as a side dish.

To broaden my pumpkin horizons, I made two recipes this weekend. First, a Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Soup and then a Turkey Pumpkin Chili. Both were delicious and easy to make. You’ll Find the Chili Recipe below, which I adapted from a few that I found in my search.

Turkey & Pumpkin Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground extra lean turkey meat
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid (I like Bionaturae)
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not sweetened pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup water
1 Tbsp chili powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Place turkey in pot and cook until brown with a little bit of the garlic. Stir in onion and cook until tender.
Pour water in pot. Mix in tomatoes, pumpkin, beans and garlic. Season with rest of ingredients (chili powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe to share?


  1. When I saw this post I was excited to try one of your pumpkin recipes, especially since I (and I'm sure quite a few other people) still have pumpkins laying around the house that I've been wondering what to do with...So imagine my surprise to see you feature a recipe that calls for canned pumpkin purée!
    Your post starts off by encouraging your clients to try a new vegetable every week from the market, and you observe that we are right in the middle of pumpkin season...So, why not feature a recipe that utilizes fresh pumpkin? I would think that would be seasonally appropriate, and much healthier to use fresh rather than canned, no?
    I don't mean to be critical, I was just genuinely surprised...

  2. Thanks for your comment. I think you bring up a good point. While my family has had their share of roasted pumpkin (with cinnamon and a bit of honey), in order to use our halloween centerpieces, some people are pumpkin-less. I suggested Melissa comment and offer the amount of fresh versus puree that should be used.

  3. Thanks for your great question. Pureed canned pumpkin is surprisingly very healthy! I know we don't always think that way with canned products. The ingredients in the brands I mentioned above are just pumpkin! So it is great for those who are pressed for time, but still want the taste and health benefits of using pumpkin. You could also use fresh pumpkin and steam or boil it and then puree it in a blender or using a hand blender. You would just need to double the amount if using fresh pumpkin. I hope this helps.

  4. P.S. I like Farmer's Market Organic pumpkin puree or Libby's pumpkin puree. Just make sure it is the plain pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix, which has other ingredients added.