Monday, October 25, 2010

Not Just Jack O Laterns

When I say pumpkin, what do you think of? Jack O Laterns and Halloween? Perhaps pumpkin pie? Yet, before there were Jack-o-laterns (the Irish are responsible for this tradition) or pumpkin pie the colonists filled this Native American fruit with milk, spices and honey. Turns out they were onto something; pumpkins are great in many recipes. If you do plan to use your pumpkin for cooking or baking look for Sugar Pie and Sweet Pumpkin, these are the best edible varieties. Pumpkins labeled sweet or sugar can be easily baked, roasted, mashed, and puréed like other varieties of winter squash.

I really like canned pureed pumpkin. I use an organic brand called Farmer’s Market. Pumpkin is very high in Vitamin A, a source of both iron and calcium and has 4 grams of fiber in half a cup (vets often suggest it to help canines “go”). Try a little pumpkin in your Greek yogurt. You can layer it like a parfait and use a little honey (ala the colonists) or agave and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Pumpkin also works nicely in oatmeal. I add a little of the pumpkin to cooking water for the grains such as quinoa or brown rice. Pumpkin is also great in soups, chili and in smoothies.

And don’t forget about the pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas. Pumpkin seeds are a great immune booster and a fantastic alternative to nuts as an afternoon snack. Stick to a ¼ cup or less. This Halloween Party Mix from Vegetarian Times is a more festive way to eat pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin Smoothie

½ cup pumpkin

1 scoop Organic Whey or plain or vanilla protein powder

½ cup milk of your choice

½ cup ice

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

1 tsp agave nectar
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

What's your favorite pumpkin purpose?


  1. Good Morning Lauren, I am a big fan of pumpkin smoothies myself. Around Thanksgiving, my mother would always make my sister and I some pumpkin milk by combining 8 oz. skim milk and 1-2 Tbs. of canned pureed pumpkin. Still one of my favorites, because it combines calcium and Vitamin A into a yummy, seasonal drink.

  2. I like my pumpkin pie - but without the pie shell, and while whip cream is okay, it's not the star. I made a pumpkin lasagna that was pretty delicious too.

  3. I love tossing pumpkin seeds with some olive oil & spices & roasting them in the oven. They made the perfect garnish for butternut squash soup- just sprinkle them on top. Delicious & healthy!!!