Move over cauliflower – beyond pumpkin pie.
Healthy pumpkin recipes are predicted to be a food trend 2019. Assuming that you already have a favorite pumpkin pie and either a recipe or a source for it – here are some other ways to get healthy pumpkin into your diet.
Why pumpkin? I am not a nutritionist, but the experts say that a cup of pumpkin contains less than 50 calories. In each bite, you get vitamins A and C for your immune system. There is vitamin E, iron and folate for immunity, and antioxidants including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta cryptoxanthin for protection from free radicals. You also get lutein and zeaxanthin to protect eyes and vision, and they may give some protection from atherosclerosis. More than a billion pumpkins are grown in the US each year.
To choose a fresh pumpkin for cooking – look for small, heavy ‘sugar’ pumpkins of about 5-7 pounds. The familiar, large, jack-o-lantern pumpkins have less flavor, less ‘meat’ in their walls and they are stringy. The sugar pumpkins are ‘in season’ from September to November but since they store well, they are available in grocery stores throughout the winter. Fresh pumpkins can be stored in a cool place at home for up to a month.
To soften up a pumpkin, put it into a microwave and cook on ‘high’ for two minutes. Cut the top off the pumpkin or cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and the strings like you do for a jack-o-lantern. Peel the skin away from the pumpkin flesh and cut it into cubes. You are ready to cook right away or freeze it in loosely packed freezer bags.
I like a good short-cut and Cook’s Illustrated gives a favorable rating the Libby’s 100% Pure Canned Pumpkin, 29 oz. for $3.16. You may also find Libby’s Organic 100% Pure Canned Pumpkin in your grocery store.
Pumpkin adds to either sweet desserts like pumpkin pie or savory dishes. Here are some savory recipes using fresh or canned pumpkin.
Martha Stewart has a good recipe for roasted pumpkin soup.
2 ¾ pounds of sugar pumpkin (can substitute butternut squash)
2 Shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps wiped clean
½ cup olive oil
5 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 garlic clove peeled
Coarse salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut pumpkin into 2-inch pieces. Combine pumpkin, onion, mushrooms, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Add oil and 2 teaspoons salt; toss to coat, then spread in a single layer. Roast until pumpkin is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30 minutes, rotating pan and tossing vegetables halfway through. Let cool, then remove skins.
- Transfer vegetables to a medium saucepan; heat over medium. Pour in 2 cups stock; puree with an immersion blender until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add remaining 3 cups stock, and puree until smooth. Bring soup just to a simmer. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.
6 ounces of whole wheat penne pasta
¾ cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
¾ cup low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup nonfat milk
1 tsp margarine
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ tsp salt
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground ginger
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the penne, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
- Heat the pumpkin puree, chicken broth, milk, margarine, onion powder, black pepper, salt, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger in a large skillet over low heat until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the drained pasta and toss with the Parmesan cheese.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil (or avocado or grape seed oil // sub water if avoiding oil)
- 1 medium shallot (minced)
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 small red chili or serrano pepper (stem + seeds removed // thinly sliced)
- 1 large red bell pepper (thinly sliced lengthwise)
- 3 Tbsp yellow (or red) Thai curry 1/2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin or butternut squash
- 2 14-ounce cans light coconut milk (sub full-fat for extra creamy texture or 1/2 of the coconut milk for thinner curry)
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar (plus more to taste // or sub stevia to taste)
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 healthy pinch sea salt (~1/4 tsp)
- 1 Tbsp coconut aminos(or sub tamari or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2/3 cup roasted cashews* (lightly salted or unsalted are best)
For Serving optional
- Fresh basil or cilantro
- Lemon juice
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add coconut oil, shallot, ginger, garlic, and pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add bell pepper and curry paste and stir. Cook for 2 minutes more. Then add pumpkin and stir. Cook for 2 minutes more.
- Add coconut milk, maple syrup or coconut sugar, turmeric, sea salt, and coconut aminos and stir. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Once simmering, slightly reduce heat to low and cover. You want a simmer, not a boil, which should be around low to medium-low heat.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to soften the pumpkin and infuse it with curry flavor.
- At this time, also taste and adjust the flavor of the sauce/broth as needed. I added more maple syrup for sweetness, sea salt for saltiness, and a bit more curry paste for a more intense curry flavor. Don’t be shy with seasonings – this curry should be very flavorful.
- Once the broth is well seasoned and the pumpkin is tender, add broccoli, lemon juice, and cashews and cover. Simmer for 3-4 minutes more over low to medium-low heat.
- Optional: Scoop out half of the broth/sauce and half of the pumpkin (try to exclude the broccoli) and blend until creamy and smooth in a blender for a thicker, creamier curry. Return to pot and warm for a few minutes before serving.
- Serve as is or over rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice. This dish gets elevated with the addition of fresh lemon juice and Thai or regular basil or cilantro for serving.
- Best when fresh, though leftovers will keep in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for 1 month. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until hot.
Notes: For protein, if you aren’t into cashews or can’t do nuts, you could also add Quick Crispy Tofu, Red Lentils, or simply serve over quinoa.
These Staub Ceramic Stoneware Pumpkin Cocotte’s are great oven to table serving pieces, especially for pumpkin dishes. They come in the three sizes. ¾ Quart on sale for $29.95. 3.5 Quart available in four colors. On sale for $179.95. 5 Quart on sale for $299.95.