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From the Patch to Your Kitchen Counter: The Best Ways to Cook with Pumpkin

Written on October 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm , by

 

The orange veggie is full of good-for-you nutrients. Time to go pick one! (Photo courtesy of Juice Images/Veer)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

With Halloween just a few weeks away, it’s time to head over to the local pumpkin patch. But this time, when you’re searching for the perfectly shaped pumping for your carved creation, snag another one for the kitchen counter. You’ll be amazed by all of the different ways you can cook with this nutrient-rich vegetable. Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP, is just as excited about pumpkin season as we are, and gave us the scoop on everything there is to know about getting the most out of that orange gourd.

“For being so sweet, pumpkin is a great food to add to your pantry and diet,” says Valpone. “It’s low in saturated fat and carbohydrates, and very low in cholesterol and sodium.” As far as vitamins and minerals go, there are very few the veggie doesn’t have. Pumpkin is a solid source of vitamins A, C, E, B6, thiamin, niacin, folate, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese.

While one of the easiest ways to prep pumpkin and reap the nutritional benefits is to roast it in chunks with a little salt and olive oil, it doesn’t hurt to get a little creative—especially around the holidays. “Try adding mashed pumpkin when you’re sautéing onions and garlic in a Dutch oven,” suggests Valpone. “Add a little cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and sugar, then stick the covered pot in a preheated oven until the flavors are combined (about 30 to 40 minutes)—really, the longer you cook it, the better. Add water if it seems to be getting dry. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, salt and pepper for an Afghani-inspired dish that is too good for there to be any leftovers.”

When clearing out the pumpkin’s “guts,” be sure to save those seeds. “Toast the washed seeds with salt or get fancy with your spice cabinet for a protein, magnesium and zinc-rich snack that is low in cholesterol and sodium (just go easy with the salt shaker),” recommends Valpone. And thanks to your local grocery store, you can enjoy pumpkin seeds even when they’re not in season. Try tossing them into a salad for extra crunch.

If you’re looking for a quick way to enjoy pumpkin on the go all year round, try a pumpkin-based snack, like KIND’s new Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt bar . “All natural, Non-GMO, gluten-free and boasting a blend of 100 percent whole grains, these bars make a great snack for anytime of the day,” says Valpone.

Craving pumpkin’s sweeter side? Give Valpone’s pumpkin “cheese” cake recipe a try for a healthy, yet decadent, dessert that simply screams fall!

Pumpkin “Cheese” Cake

Crust:

  • 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ lb. salted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 24 oz. GoVeggie! Dairy-Free & Vegan Plain Cream Cheese
  • 15 oz. pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup  sour cream
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp.  ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. o ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Add melted vegan butter. Press down into a 9-inch spring-form pan. Set aside.
  3. Beat cream cheese, adding pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and spices once smooth. Then add flour and vanilla. Mix until combined well.
  4. Pour pumpkin mixture into crust. Spread filling evenly, then bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven; let sit for 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Serve when ready.

More from FITNESS:

Pumpkin, Spice and Everything Nice

Healthy Recipes for Seasonal Fall and Winter Foods

Two Pumpkin-Inspired Recipes to Get Pumped About