5 Ways To Enjoy Pumpkin That Aren’t A Latte

by Lisa McCune, MS, MPH, RDN, LDN

Last Updated: October 2, 2020

With autumn upon us, we are starting to see pumpkin flavored everything. Pumpkin is arguably the most popular seasonal flavor there is - for good reason. It’s not only delicious, but pumpkin is a powerhouse of nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives pumpkin its orange color. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, which in turn supports our immune systems, helping our bodies to fight infections. It also helps our eyes stay healthy. Vitamin C may help maintain a healthy immune system, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve iron absorption from foods. Consuming high fiber foods like pumpkin has numerous health benefits, including helping to reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease, as well as helping to maintain blood sugar balance. One cup of canned pumpkin provides 7 grams of fiber, which is over 25% of the daily recommendation. Potassium, another mineral found in pumpkin, promotes heart health by maintaining fluid balance and controlling blood pressure. All of these nutritional benefits are packed in our favorite fall flavor, giving us even more reason to love pumpkin.

For some people, the first sip of a hot pumpkin spiced beverage is something they look forward to all year. It’s not just about the flavor, but more so the tradition. During this time of change and uncertainty, traditions are even more important for us to maintain. However, not everyone enjoys pumpkin flavored drinks. For those who are looking to get all the nutritional benefits of pumpkin and get pumped up for fall without pumpkin spiced beverages, here are five other ways to enjoy one of fall’s greatest flavors.
  1. Soups, stews, and sauces
    Pumpkin can be added to soups, stews and chilis for a fun fall twist and different flavor profile. Use fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin. If using canned pumpkin, make sure to use 100% pumpkin or pumpkin puree – not pumpkin pie mix, which has added sugar and spices. Adding pumpkin to sauces is also a great way to introduce fall flavors into a meal.
  2. Pumpkin seeds
    Nutritionally, a pumpkin is more like a vegetable, but it does have seeds, which makes it a fruit. Just like pumpkin flesh, the seeds contain heart healthy nutrients. Pumpkin seeds are high in healthy fats that keep us full and support healthy cholesterol levels. They are also a good source of fiber. The seeds can be enjoyed as a larger white seed with a shell or as a smaller, green seed without a shell, known as a “pepita.” These crunchy seeds are so versatile – use them as a topping on soups, chilis, or yogurt, mixed in a granola, or as a sweet or savory dip!
  3. Oatmeal and baked goods
    Spice up breakfast and baked goods by incorporating pureed pumpkin. You can add the puree to oatmeal, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and breads. Adding pumpkin will bump up the nutritional value of these foods, while also giving us that seasonal flavor we love so much. For ultimate fall flavors, add a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of pecans or walnuts to these baked goods or oats.
  4. Smoothies
    Turn a smoothie into a festive fall favorite by adding pumpkin. Smoothies often leave us feeling unsatisfied if they are lacking filling nutrients like fiber, fat, or protein. Pumpkin will bulk up a smoothie with fiber to keep you feeling full. Pair it with another fruit, like banana, and Greek yogurt for a winning combination that will keep you full for hours.
  5. Roasted pumpkin
    Try enjoying pumpkin as a side dish instead of potatoes or other starches. Bake it, cube it, or mash it. Add autumnal spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger or add some heat with chipotle pepper or chili powder.

These basic recipes are a great way to begin introducing pumpkin into your meals in a new way. As you can see, there are many ways to amplify recipes with some pumpkin this fall. Plus, your kitchen will smell delicious.

For more guidance on navigating your nutrition needs this fall, schedule a Telenutrition appointment with a Kroger Health Dietitian today.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Lisa McCune MS, MPH, RDN, LDN

Lisa McCune, MS, MPH, RDN, LDN

Teaching people about the positive things that food can do for the mind, body and spirit, and helping them understand that all foods can fit into a healthy diet is Lisa’s nutrition philosophy. She believes food should be exciting and fun! Lisa encourages celebration of non-scale victories, which focus on what good nutrition can do for your life beyond weight. She loves food, but also loves to break a sweat whether it’s cycling, walking her dog or doing CrossFit.