Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree
It's the time of year where pumpkin fever sets in. Cans of pureed pumpkin and sugary pumpkin pie filling are flying off store shelves. And while a can of basic plain pumpkin is by no means an unhealthy pantry staple, it's time to put an end to the myth that homemade is too hard to make yourself.
Fresh pumpkin is filled with fiber, vitamins A and E, riboflavin, and minerals like iron and potassium. You will also find antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein in that deep orange flesh. Winter squash like pumpkin also boast amazing texture and mildly sweet flavor, lending it to both sweet and savory recipes.
Aside from making a fabulous baby food all by it self, older kids and adults alike can take advantage of the nutrients in pureed pumpkin for muffins, pancakes, soups and pasta sauce. Small- to medium-sized pumpkins are best for making purees and some of the most popular grocery store, jack-o-lantern sized varieties aren’t famous for their flavor. Your best bet is to ask around for sugar pumpkins at your local farmers' market.
Warning! This recipe will most likely ruin canned pumpkin forever – the taste and texture is second to none. Use 1 medium or 2 to 3 small pumpkins for this recipe as larger pumpkins are tougher and more fibrous. Whatever you use, the yield comes out to approximately 1 cup of puree per pound fresh (whole) pumpkin.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife or serrated pumpkin knife, cut off the top of the pumpkin below the stem, then cut in half. Remove all the seeds using a large spoon ( save the seeds for a healthy snack). Leaving the skin on, cut pumpkin into about 10 large pieces and place on baking sheet, flesh side down. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until tender and fragrant; set aside to cool*. Once cooled, gently peel away skin. Transfer in batches to a food mill fitted with the fine disc. Process through food mill to create a creamy and smooth puree. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to one week or the freezer for up to 3 months.
Calories: 29; Total Fat: 0 gram; Saturated Fat: 0 grams; Total Carbohydrate: 7 grams ; Sugars: 2 grams; Protein: 1 gram; Sodium: 1 milligram; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams ; Fiber: 1 gram
*do not refrigerate – it’s much easier to remove skin if warm or at room temperature
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.