Not just for pumpkin pie anymore

Canned pumpkin is a healthy addition to your dishes year round



No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without a large piece of pumpkin pie for dessert (with whipped cream, of course). But from breakfast dishes to desserts to savory creations, canned pumpkin puree is a fall-friendly staple that is multi-purpose — and isn’t just for pie anymore.

“Pumpkin can be prepared like any hard winter squash,” said Emily Schoonmaker, personal chef, caterer, and owner of Off Your Plate Meals based in Durham. “I often look to butternut squash or sweet potato recipes for pumpkin inspiration.”

Just like butternut squash and sweet potato, pumpkin is great in savory dishes, too. Schoonmaker loves adding pumpkin puree to soups and stews for extra body. Pumpkin also adds extra flavor and thickness to dishes like lasagna, macaroni and cheese, and even chili — a must-have for cozy football Sundays.

As the beloved pumpkin pie has proven, pumpkin puree is great in desserts and sweet dishes, too — but its powers go far beyond.

“I love adding pureed pumpkin to breakfast foods — like oatmeal, waffles, and pancakes,” said Jil Murphy, founder and editor of the food and lifestyle blog, JilCooks.com. “Blending it into yogurt, smoothies, and milkshakes is also delicious….And then, my personal favorite, it can be used in so many different baked goods — from breads and muffins to cookies and cheesecakes.”

Pumpkin also works well with a variety of different flavors. In addition to the usual fall spices — such as nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon — it also pairs well with garam masala, vanilla, maple, chocolate, and sage, to name a few.

If you’re not yet sold on pumpkin’s versatility (and deliciousness) perhaps the health benefits will win you over.

 “Adding pumpkin to anything automatically pumps up the nutritional value of whatever you add it to. It has a lot of fiber and vitamins, and doesn’t add a lot of extra calories,” Murphy said.

Some of pumpkin’s nutritional benefits include being rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, and beta-carotene. Pumpkin puree also comes in handy for baking when you’re trying to decrease the amount of fat used. Baking for a vegan friend or colleague? Pumpkin can be substituted for eggs in a wide variety of recipes.

“Use ¼-cup puree for each egg in a recipe and use a one-to-one ratio for recipes calling for oil (one cup of oil can be replaced with one cup of pumpkin),” Schoonmaker said.

Pumpkin puree is available in grocery stores year-round, so why wait until the leaves start changing every year to get your pumpkin fill?

“Being in New England, pumpkin and the fall months go hand-in-hand, but with great quality, canned pumpkin available year-round, there’s no reason not to have it be a part of your repertoire,” Murphy said.

From pancakes to pasta dishes to milkshakes, canned pumpkin is so much more than pie filler.    

Michelle Lahey is a food writer who has been writing about (and eating) food in New Hampshire for over 10 years. Outside of food, you can find her sipping on a good IPA, correcting other people’s grammar, or hiking in the White Mountains.

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