4 reasons why pumpkin is the perfect fall food

Pumpkin soup topped with croutons | Photo by Tatiana Volgutova / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE — Pumpkins are great to use in decorating and just as great to use in dining. Here is why:

  1. Pumpkins are low in calories. One-half cup of mashed pumpkin (without salt) has 24 calories, 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber and 1 milligram of sodium.
  2. Pumpkins are packed with nutrients, such as fiber and beta-carotene. Our bodies use beta-carotene to produce vitamin A. Pumpkins are also rich in potassium.
  3. Pumpkins are versatile. You can steam, bake, boil or microwave them (if you cut slits in them) and also pressure cook them. Once cooked they can be mashed, pureed or cubed. Mashed or pureed pumpkin (either fresh or canned) can be used in muffins, biscuits and quick breads; in soups and macaroni and cheese sauce; added to chili, a smoothie, cheese balls or hummus, to name just a few. Cubed and cooked pumpkin can be used with pasta, risotto, soups, salads and casseroles.
  4. Pumpkins can be preserved. Once pumpkins are cooked, they can be stored in either the fridge or freezer in airtight containers for later use.

Following are two terrific recipes that include pumpkin.

For illustration, a bowl of turkey and red bean ragout with pumpkin, tomatoes and spinach | Photo by Sarsmis / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Pumpkin Chili (Source: Taste of Home)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped.
  • 1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped.
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced.
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained.
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin.
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained.
  • 3 cups chicken broth.
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed, cooked turkey.
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes.
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and pepper; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a 5-quart slow cooker; stir in the next 10 ingredients. Cook covered on low four-five hours. If desired, top with cubed avocado and thinly sliced green onions when serving. Yields 10 servings.

Pumpkin Soup in a Pumpkin (Source: verybestbaking.com – Libby’s Pumpkin)

  • 1 pumpkin.
  • 2 cups milk or half-and-half.
  • 3 cups chicken broth.
  • 1 cup grated cheese.
  • 3 cups seasoned croutons.

Cut the lid from the pumpkin, and remove seeds and fibers. Alternate layers of croutons and cheese in pumpkin. Add chicken broth and milk. Bake for about 2 hours at 350 degrees. To serve, stir the contents into the pumpkin to create a thick, creamy soup.

Written by UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION.

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