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Pumpkin penchant

Pumpkin NutritionIt’s that time of the year again: pumpkin season!  What better thing to do than to eat this nutritious vitamin A/beta carotene powerhouse whenever possible?!  Not only is it loaded with antioxidants, it is low in calories, high in fiber and potassium, and a good source of many other important vitamins and minerals.

Getting tired of pumpkin pie?  Is that possible?  Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate pumpkin into your dining experiences!

First, decide whether you are using pumpkin puree or a whole pumpkin.  Pumpkin puree is fast and easy, just open the can and you’re ready to go!  If you have the option, why not choose organic?  Be sure to find the plain puree, as there is pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie mix.  If you’d prefer picking your own pumpkin, be sure to find the baking pumpkin variety (often referred to as sugar pie pumpkins).  These pumpkins are usually smaller than the ones used to carve jack o’ lanterns.  If you use a whole pumpkin, you can roast or boil, then mash to make puree or cut to use in pieces.

Second, decide what to make!  So many choices, so little time!  

Desserts: Pumpkin pie/tart, pumpkin “cheesecake” (use tofu or soy “cream cheese”), pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cake (think carrot cake, but with a smoother consistency), pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin tapioca, etc.  Jazz up any of these dessert items by adding spices, chocolate, nuts, caramel, soy whip, ice cream or anything else you like.

Breakfast items: Pumpkin pancakes/waffles (add 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree to your regular mix, then add enough of the water/liquid until the consistency is right), pumpkin smoothie, pumpkin quick bread or muffins (think carrot bread with fruit and/or nuts), pumpkin rolls (think cinnamon raisin bread/rolls), pumpkin scones, or savory pumpkin tofu scramble (add chopped pumpkin to your scramble, along with any other veggies, and season as desired!), etc.

Lunch/dinner items: Sauteed pumpkin (add to vegetable sauté, nice contrast with broccoli, green beans, and/or kale, then season as desired with a tasty sauce), roasted pumpkin with brown sugar and cinnamon, mashed pumpkin with maple syrup and cinnamon, pumpkin curry (add bite-size pieces to any curry dish), pumpkin soup (puree, then season to taste; or add in bite-size pieces to any soup), pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin sauce (pumpkin puree, thinned down as needed, spoon over pasta, rice, veggies, tofu/fake meat, etc.), pumpkin spread (add savory seasonings, nuts, etc., and serve with whole-grain crackers), etc.

With so many different ways to eat this nutritional and tasty squash, try a few, be creative, and enjoy!

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