Like other orange-coloured fruit and veggies, pumpkins are packed with alpha and beta-carotene — an anti-oxidant that gets turned into vitamin A in the body which helps combat those damaging free radicals and keeps your immune system strong. Pumpkins are a good source of vitamins C, E and K, not to mention minerals like iron, magnesium and potassium. Another bonus? It’s a good source of fibre in addition to being low in fat and calories.

We love our pumpkin pie, but it’s not the only way to enjoy this fabulous fall superfood.

1. Pumpkin Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, minced
2 cups cooked pumpkin
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cup fresh milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 dash each cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash white pepper

Melt butter and sauté onion until slightly softened. Add remaining ingredients. Heat through but do not allow to boil. Correct seasoning to taste and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

(Source: .)

2. Sweet and Creamy Pumpkin Dip

(8 ounce size) cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar (or more, to taste)
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin or equivalent of fresh pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon orange extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

Blend cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add pumpkin and spices and mix until well blended. Chill well before serving. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Serve in a decorative bowl or hallowed out pumpkin with your choice of ginger snap cookies, apple slices, carrot and celery sticks, vanilla wafers or graham crackers.

(Adapted from )

3. Baked Pumpkin Slices

1 pumpkin (2-3 pound size)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut the pumpkin, from top to bottom, into 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Discard the seeds and strings, and spread slices on a lightly oiled baking sheet (save the seeds to roast).

Combine the oil with the rest of the other ingredients and brush a little of this mixture onto the pumpkin slices.

Bake for about 25 minutes, and then brush again. Turn, brush again, and bake until done, an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm. Makes about 20 slices.

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4. Seasonal Baked Stuffed Pumpkin

1 small pumpkin
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
1/2 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup peppers, chopped
1/2 cup sweet corn
1/2 cup instant barley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut top from pumpkin and clean. Coat inside with butter and half the brown sugar.

Sauté ground beef, onion, cabbage, and peppers. Add corn and barley; stuff into pumpkin. Add remaining brown sugar on top. Put on pumpkin top.

Place in shallow pan with 2″ of hot water. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until tender. Makes 4 servings.

(Source: .)

5. Golden Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup golden raisins

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg with oil. Stir in milk, pumpkin and raisins.

Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Pour into 12 greased muffin cups, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 22 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 12 big muffins.

(Submitted by reader O’Doud.)

6. Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar (white)
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (can be low fat)
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin (about 2 cups)
3 eggs
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine crumbs, sugar and margarine. Press firmly on bottom of 9 inch spring form pan or 13 x 9 inch baking pan.

In a large mixer bowl, beat cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth.

Add pumpkin, eggs, 1/4 cup maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until edge springs back when lightly touched (center will be slightly soft). Allow to cool, then chill.

Just before serving, remove side of spring form pan. Top with Maple Pecan Glaze. Refrigerate leftovers.

Maple Pecan Glaze:

In small saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup maple syrup and 1 cup (1/2 pint) whipping cream. Bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened; stir occasionally. Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Cool then pour over cheesecake.

(Submitted by reader fuzzbunny.)

7. Pumpkin cookies with Penuche frosting

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup margarine
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnut or pecans

Penuche frosting:

3 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In large bowl, beat sugar, brown sugar and margarine until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, and remove from sheets and cool.

Make frosting and frost cool cookies. Makes 3 to 5 dozen.

(Submitted by reader memine1.)

Perfect pumpkin tips

– Bigger may be better for jack o’lanterns, but not for cooking. Sugar pumpkins are often chosen for cooking because they’re smaller, sweeter and have a closer grain. Your recipe should tell you what size to look for.

– Mini pumpkins make great decorations as well as bowls for soup or dips.

– Whole pumpkins will keep for a long time in a cool, dry place, but canned pumpkins let you enjoy this superfood all year long.

– Not a fan of canned? It’s easy to make your own puree to use in recipes. (Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen outlines the simple procedure here.) You can freeze it for future use too.

– While many people save the seeds for roasting, the leaves and flowers are also used in vegetable dishes too.


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