Pumpkin is the soul ingredient for fall recipes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I love this time of year. Tree leaves are changing colors and the air is little bit crispier in the early mornings and late afternoons. All this signals that it’s autumn, time for fall decorations, recipes and celebrations. What better fruit to incorporate into all things fall than pumpkins?

Pumpkin is a fruit native to America. It was introduced to the pilgrims by Native Americans, and served as an important source of nutrition during winter months. Now, pumpkins are used for so much more, especially this time of year. People have a trend of decorating their yards and porches with a Harvest theme using pumpkins of all sizes and colors. Their arrangements are beautiful to look at from the street/ road as you pass by the decorated homes. The fruit is also being used in centerpiece arrangements for fall celebrations and events.

If you want to do something simple but crafty with your pumpkin, hollow it out and make it into a punch bowl says my colleague, Talladega County Extension Coordinator Wanda Jurriaans.

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While the weather is cooler, pumpkins will stay fresh longer when stored outside. When pumpkins begin to go bad, they become mushy. By storing a pumpkin craft outside the house, in crisp air, it will be reusable for more than a week.

“Put the pumpkin punch bowl in a large plastic bag to protect it,” said Jurriaans. “Set it out in the cool weather to keep it preserved for reuse.”

Many families participate in the tradition of carving pumpkins to decorate their front porches for Halloween. The holiday now falls second to Christmas in store sales for decorations. Pumpkins are inexpensive and carving them makes decorating a memory for the entire family.

Pumpkins can be used for more than just fall decorations. It also makes for a healthy snack.

What people use to make jack-o’-lanterns are actually full of nutritional value. Pumpkins are a good source of vitamin A, which is beneficial to one’s eye-sight and skin. They are also a good source of fiber, which is essential to a healthy diet. Pumpkins are low in calories averaging 26 calories per 100 grams, depending on how it is prepared.

Drying pumpkin with a dehydrator or roasting pumpkin seeds in the oven creates a healthy seasonal snack. Adding your favorite spice and a small amount of butter or olive oil will make the snack more flavorful while keeping it low in calories.

One benefit of pumpkin is that it goes well with herbs and spices, which also adds to the nutrition of meals. Ginger and cinnamon are two of my favorite flavors to pair with pumpkin. To me, ginger gets the taste buds going When using the spices to complement pumpkin recipes, you won’t have to use as much sugar, which makes the dish healthier overall.

From pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin pie, people are using pumpkin as an ingredient more during the fall. Pumpkin muffins and pumpkin breads have become increasingly popular.

Below are recipes created by nutrition specialists, that pumpkin-lovers may be interested in trying, after-all Pumpkins aren’t just for carving.

Pumpkin Bread or Muffins

2/3 cup corn-oil margarine

2 cup sugar

3 clean, un-cracked eggs

2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin

2/3 cup water

3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

2 tablespoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Butter flavored vegetable cooking spray

Directions: Cream margarine and sugar by beating margarine until soft and smooth and then gradually adding sugar, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat eggs and combine with mashed pumpkin and water. Add to creamed mixture. Beat until light and fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir until evenly mixed. Gradually add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, blending well after each addition. Add raisins and pecans. Stir until evenly blended. Coat three 8-inch loaf pans with vegetable spray. Divide batter evenly into the pans. Bake at 350 F for one hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove bread from pans and cool on wire racks.

The recipe makes three loaves with 15 slices per loaf. One slice contains 114 calories, 18 mg cholesterol, 89 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 4 g fat or 31 percent of total calories.


Pumpkin Muffins

Follow the recipe for Pumpkin Bread but omit raisins. Coat muffin cups with cooking spray or use paper baking cups. Fill two-thirds full. Sprinkle sugar over tops using ½ c sugar for all muffins. Bake at 375 F for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

NOTE: Pumpkin bread and muffins may be frozen. To reheat, thaw first and then wrap in foil. Heat at 300 F for 10 to 15 minutes.

Enjoy fresh or canned pumpkin in soups, pastas or baked dishes.

Try it canned: Pumpkin Soup and/or try it fresh:

Baked Pumpkin

Canned Pumpkin Soup

Canned pumpkin tastes good and is easy to use. The blend of ingredients in this soup gives it a hint of sweetness.


3 cups water

1/4 pound beef round roast (thawed, sliced thinly)

2 cans low-sodium pumpkin (about 30 ounces)

2 tablespoons maple syrup (or 2 tablespoons brown sugar)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1/4 cup onions (diced)


In a medium-size pot, bring water to a boil. Add beef roast to boiling water. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add pumpkin, maple syrup, and pepper to pot. If using cinnamon, add that too. Mix well.

Lower heat and cook for about 10 minutes. 5. Put 2 teaspoons of onion on top of each bowl of soup. Serve hot.

Tip for cooking beef roast: The recommended safe minimum internal temperature for beef roast is 145 degrees F, as measured with a food thermometer.

Baked Pumpkin


1 pumpkin (small, peeled and cut into cubes)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place pumpkin cubes in a baking dish and sprinkle with sugar and salt.

3. Cover pan with foil and bake until soft.

4. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Source: What’s Cooking USDA Mixing Bowl; Choose Myplate.gov.