5 Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin in Healthy Fall Meals

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If you’re daunted by the idea of cooking with fresh pumpkin, we can’t blame you. Splitting, gutting and skinning a whole gourd with nothing more than a carving knife and a large spoon to scoop out the seeds is a time-consuming process — and completely unnecessary when you have pure pumpkin puree on hand.

Luckily, one-half cup of unsweetened canned pumpkin contains roughly 50 calories per serving, which means it’s a great way to add creaminess to your favorite foods for very little additional fat or sugar. Better yet, it’s a quick and convenient method for imbuing each bite of pie, quick bread or pasta sauce with comforting fall flavor. Here are a few easy ways to work rich pumpkin puree into your favorite dishes, from classic pumpkin pie to pumpkin pasta.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This creamy cheesecake is packed with pumpkin pie flavor but with a fraction of the fat as the original; it’s made with reduced-fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt.

Pumpkin Muffins

Instead of relying on fat for flavor, Ellie Krieger’s better-for-you muffins get their distinctively warm spiciness from molasses, dark brown sugar and a medley of ground spices. Low-fat buttermilk, canned pumpkin and just a touch of canola oil instill a moist tenderness in each of these wholesome pumpkin-seed-flecked muffins.

Pumpkin-Ginger Smoothie

Pumpkin and gingery are a match made in heaven, and this fiber-packed smoothie is no exception. After your first sip, you’ll notice a refreshing tang, thanks to a healthy dose of low-fat yogurt and a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s a welcome change from the rich pumpkin desserts that tempt us during the fall months.


Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kids love chocolate chip cookies, so this pumpkin-laced batch is a no-brainer for fall. A little bit of pumpkin puree goes a long way here (just one cup is needed for 60 cookies). Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves lend a rich spiciness that you’d associate more with pumpkin pie, but it does wonders for chocolate chip cookies, too.

Penne Wise Pumpkin Pasta

Rachael Ray coats whole-wheat penne with a nutty pumpkin-cream sauce that’s enhanced with ample amounts of garlic and sage. Even a savory weeknight meal like this can benefit from a light sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg, so break out your fall spices when simmering the sauce.

Ideas from Food Network Magazine:

Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls

The creamy consistency of Food Network Magazine’s butternut squash soup resembles a bisque, but no cream is necessary. While the soup simmers, roast a few small baking pumpkins to use in place of bowls, and prepare an array of toppings, like fried onions, sage and pepitas, so each guest can customize his or her own serving.

Pumpkin-Parmesan Biscuits

It’s common to find pumpkin in sweet baked goods at this time of year, but less often in savory items — and yet the rich, complex and slightly spicy flavor plays so well with savory ingredients. Mix Parmesan cheese, pumpkin puree and heavy cream into your batter to get the full fall flavor of these moist biscuits. Surprisingly, one biscuit contains just 136 calories.

Check out more recipes, tips and ideas on cooking and baking with pumpkin and other varieties of fall squash:

A Mind “Full” Mom: Hidden Veggie Quesadilla

The Fed Up Foodie: Bread Dressing Stuffed Acorn Squash

Foodtastic Mom: Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie

Dishin & Dishes: Thai Massaman Curry With Chicken and Butternut Squash

Devour: Combine Squash and Pasta for the Ultimate Fall Comfort Food

In Jennie’s Kitchen: Delicate Squash, Shiitake, Kale & Quinoa Salad

Swing Eats: Zucchini Soufflé (gluten-free)