Top 5 Ways to Use Pumpkin

Pumpkin, the harbinger of fall, has gone absolutely viral. In the past, we had our basic pumpkin pies and pumpkin spice muffins, but now pumpkin is in everything from hummus and pasta to coffee and tea. You can even wash your face with pumpkin! I personally love the pumpkin trend, because it’s about time people realized that pumpkin is so much more than a pie filling. Cultures around the globe have cherished pumpkin as a main ingredient in savory dishes, from Latin American soups and stews to Asian pumpkin dumplings and stir-fries.

Pumpkins on display at the Nashville farmers market. Aren’t they lovely?

Pumpkins are in the same family as winter squashes, and they are packed with nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamins A and C, fiber, copper, potassium, slow-digesting carbs, and more. I grew pumpkins in my garden this summer—the result of composting pumpkins last fall and the seeds catching hold in my garden to produce mystery vines. And now I have their cheerful shapes and curling vines gracing my mantel and doorstep as I welcome fall into my home. I love cooking with these gems, too. Check out my five favorite ways to use pumpkin in the kitchen below.

Pumpkins are great for decorating your home in the fall. This is a beautiful pumpkin store-front display I spied in Vermont a few years ago.
Pumpkins come in so many varieties, shapes and colors!
Try growing pumpkins in your garden. I picked pumpkins at this farm in Washington state a few years ago.

Top 5 Ways to Use Pumpkin

1. Bake with Pumpkin. Turn your kitchen into nirvana with the aroma of pumpkin spice baking in your oven in breads, pies, cookies, bars, and muffins. Check out my recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins from Plant-Powered for Life.

Real Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte

2. Stir in Mashed Pumpkin. Cook up pumpkin and mash it (or simply open up a can of pumpkin) to stir into so many wonderful recipes, such as soups, macaroni and “cheese” (let pumpkin stand in for cheese!), and even a pumpkin latte. Skip those fake lattes with pumpkin additives and use the real thing. Check out my Real Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte in my new video and learn how to make a healthier version of this classic fall staple.

Pumpkin Spice Orange Smoothie

3. Blend Pumpkin Up! Throw cooked pumpkin into a blender to make pumpkin puree for a variety of recipes, from pumpkin pie to pumpkin bread. Learn how to make home-made pumpkin puree in my step-by-step guide here. You can also toss cooked pumpkin into your next smoothie, such as this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Orange Smoothie here.

Cantaloupe Salad with Radishes and Pumpkin Seeds

4. Save the Seeds. Don’t throw out those pumpkin seeds! Roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and seasonings and enjoy them as a nutrient-rich snack. Sprinkle them over salads (such as my Salad with Cantaloupe, Radishes, and Pumpkin Seeds), into baked goods, and on your veggies.

Use pumpkin in your roasted veggie recipes—you can easily swap out the squash in a recipe, such as this Balsamic Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Farro, for pumpkin.

5. Use Pumpkin as a Vegetable. Don’t forget that pumpkin is a vegetable, not just an ingredient. You can roast it just like you would winter squash, cube it in soups and stews, and sauté it in a savory stir-fry.

For other tips on how to use plant foods, check out the following:

Top 5 Ways to Use Pumpkin Seeds
Top 5 Ways to Use Quinoa
Top 5 Ways to Use Brown Rice

 

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