The Veggie Table: Pumpkin's Possibilities

By: Janel Ovrut Funk
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As seasons change, so do the menus. Sure, it’s sad to pack up the grill and say “arrivederci” to dining al fresco, but there is something exciting about the first crisp autumn days and the chance to make warm, comforting foods again. If you’re anything like me, fall foods are synonymous with pumpkin, but that doesn't only mean pumpkin pie. Full of vitamin A and fiber, pumpkin works well with breakfast, in a smoothie and other non-pie sweets.

Here are some of my favorite pumpkin recipes.

Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal

Have this first thing, and you'll tackle a third of your daily fiber need. No need to stand over a hot stove either -- prep them overnight and pop them in the microwave the next morning for a quick fix.

Serves: 1
1/2 cup dry old fashioned oats
1/2 cup vanilla soymilk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoon maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon and nutmeg)

Combine oats, soymilk, pumpkin, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice in a container and refrigerate overnight. Place the mix in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 2 minutes.

Nutrition Info (per serving):
Calories: 310
Total Fat: 5 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Carbohydrates: 56 grams
Protein: 12 grams
Sodium: 75 milligrams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Fiber: 9 gram
Pumpkin-Banana Smoothie

Squashed for time? (Ha, get it?) This on-the-go smoothie is perfect -- plus, you make enough for two so you don't have to worry about sharing.

Serves: 2
1/2 cup vanilla soymilk
1 peeled frozen banana, sliced up
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon and nutmeg)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Blend all ingredients in a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender until you have a smooth consistency. Tip: Freeze the peeled and sliced banana and refrigerate the pumpkin ahead of time so you have a cold and refreshing smoothie.

Nutrition Info (per serving):
Calories: 114
Total Fat: 1 gram
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Carbohydrates: 26 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 56 milligrams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Fiber: 3.5 grams
Pumpkin Wontons (shown above)

These sweet wontons are a great way to enjoy pumpkin pie's flavors in individual bites -- portion control at its best! You'll find wonton wrappers (like these from Nasoya) in the refrigerated produce section of most major grocery stores. I discovered this recipe in Vegetarian Times, but vegans beware, wonton wraps typically contain egg.

Serves: 16
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
16 packaged wonton wrappers
Granulated sugar for dusting
Ground cinnamon for dusting

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Place a wonton wrapper flat on your work surface. Spoon one tablespoon of filling into the wonton center. Moisten edges of the wonton with water and fold in half to form a triangle. Press the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining filling and wontons.

Arrange filled wontons on an un-greased baking sheet. Lightly coat the wontons with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle each with sugar and cinnamon. Bake until golden, about 16 minutes. Turn and bake 2 more minutes. Set baking sheet on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

Nutrition Info (per wonton):
Calories: 46
Total Fat: 0 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 10 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 83 milligrams
Cholesterol: 1 milligrams
Fiber: 0.5 gram

You can actually use a 15-ounce can of pumpkin in place of eggs and oil when baking a cake from a packaged mix. Just combine the mix and the pumpkin and follow the baking directions. You’ll get a hint of pumpkin flavor while slashing the added fat and cholesterol from the oil and eggs.

Janel Ovrut, MS RD LDN, loves experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking. Read her food blog, Dine Dish Delish, and follow her on Twitter @DietitianJanel. Catch up on her previous posts here.

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