When it comes to ways to eat it, pumpkin has been pigeonholed ― and it’s time to put that to an end! The winter squash, normally relegated to pies, muffins and the occasional ravioli, is packed with essential nutrients and filling fiber. For a mere 49 calories a cup, pumpkin provides 200 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A, nearly 20 percent RDI of vitamin C and three grams of fiber. And pumpkin’s orange color isn’t just good for jack-o’-lanterns, the unique hue comes from carotenoids, including beta-carotene, known for improving eye health. Read on for 11 recipes that will put pumpkin on your plate in exciting new ways.
1. Protein Pumpkin Pancakes
Pancakes often bring very little to the table, nutritionally speaking — especially if you’re using a box mix. But who wants to spend a ton of time whipping up a meal from scratch first thing in the morning? Luckily this recipe, which gets a hearty dose of vitamins from the pumpkin and an extra dose of protein from egg whites, requires just six ingredients and takes only five minutes to make. Photo and Recipe: Ana Frias / fit, fun & delish!
2. Spicy Pumpkin Soup
Step aside tomato soup — pumpkin in the star of this warm, comforting dish. Just as silky as the traditional tomato variety, this recipe skips the butter, flour and sugar, getting all the creamy goodness it needs from pureed pumpkin and white beans. Bonus: It’s gluten-free and vegan, making it an easy go-to to suit just about everyone’s dietary needs. To make this recipe even healthier, skip the French fried onions and double up on antioxidant-packed pepitas for a topping that’s just as crunchy. Photo and Recipe: Sommer / A Spicy Perspective
3. Crispy Tofu Sandwich with Sweet Potato-Pumpkin Spread
The name’s a mouthful and so is this sandwich! So many amazing flavors combine to make this autumnal meal. Crispy tofu and crusty bread are the perfect platform for the creamy sweet potato-pumpkin spread, while onions, lettuce and tomato bring in fresh, bright flavors. Once you’ve made this tasty spread, you’ll want to add it to all your favorite sandwiches. See you later mayo! Photo and Recipe: Kathy / Health. Happy. Life.
4. Pumpkin Chicken Tacos
If tacos make you think of sunshine and margaritas — or a greasy food truck late at night — think again. The addition of pumpkin to this chicken taco transforms the casual Mexican meal into a produce-packed fall feast. Rich pumpkin cools your mouth after it’s hit with hot jalapenos and chili powder. Photo and Recipe: Susan Anderson / We Are Not Martha
5. Baked Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese that’s actually good for you? Fortunately the orange in this recipe comes from beta-carotene, a naturally occurring compound found in pumpkin that promotes visual health — not artificial “Cheddar” cheese. The pumpkin doesn’t add flavor so much as a rich creamy texture, without the saturated fat and calories you would get from dairy-based creams. But don’t worry, there is cheese — four kinds! Although not used in huge quantities, Neufchatel cream cheese, part-skim cheddar cheese, Gruyère and Parmesan bring all the gooey goodness you’ve come to expect from the orange stuff. Photo and Recipe: Claire Gallam / SheKnows
6. Brown Rice Pumpkin Risotto
Typically brown rice doesn’t make a great risotto because it doesn’t release enough starch to achieve the creamy texture that short-grained white rice does. But thanks to pumpkin, that’s not a problem in this recipe! In fact, the addition of pumpkin removes the need for the constant stirring normally required to make risotto creamy thanks to its natural velvety texture. Less work and an extra dose of veggies? This recipe is a win-win. Photo and Recipe: Katie Webster / healthy seasonal recipes
7. Eggplant Pumpkin Peanut Curry
Don’t let pumpkin’s association with Halloween make you think it’s not a versatile vegetable. The fall gourd goes Thai in this unexpected meal. Joining forces with strong flavors like curry paste, peanut butter, lime, cilantro, ginger and sriracha, pumpkin provides a rich yet mellow base for this dish. Make a large batch because this hearty meal holds well. No more Thai takeout for lunch! Photo and Recipe: Carolyn Stalknaker / SheKnows
8. Pumpkin and Black Bean Casserole
This recipe may sound impressive but it’s actually a great option when you feel like you have very little on hand — except a pumpkin. Black beans, frozen corn and canned tomatoes are pantry staples that come together in this Mexican-themed casserole. Throw in a few spices, peppers and onions and you’ve got a veggie-packed meal even meat eaters can get behind — all for less than 300 calories a serving. Recipe and Photos: Susan Voisin / FatFree Vegan Kitchen
9. Pumpkin Hummus
Pumpkin, good. Hummus, good. Pumpkin hummus? So good! Although it may not seem like an obvious pairing, these two ingredients come together to make a flavorful and healthy spread. Traditional hummus flavors like tahini, cumin and smoked paprika all join the party along with maple syrup to bring out just a hint of sweetness. Try this well-balanced spread on sandwiches, with whole grain crackers or alongside sliced veggies. Photo and Recipe: Dreena Burton / Plant Powered Kitchen
10. Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
Forget Starbuck’s pumpkin latte, which packs a whopping 49 grams of sugar in a grande. This pumpkin spice smoothie will fill you up and keep you satisfied all morning long, without the sugar crash. In fact, there’s no added sugar in this light and creamy creation, just your choice of raisins or maple syrup. Photo and Recipes: Leanne Vogel / Healthful Pursuit
11. Crustless Pumpkin Pie
OK, no list of delicious pumpkin treats is complete without a little pie, and this crustless version makes the cut. Thanks to a naturally rich and high-fiber main ingredient, pumpkin is more nutritious than most varieties of pie, but the flaky crust still packs on fat and calories. This recipe ditches the crust all together in favor of a rich custard-like base that contains less fat and fewer calories in the entire pie than a slice of most traditional recipes. Photo and Recipe: Chocolate Covered Katie