Fall pumpkin treats are nutritious

The bright orange of pumpkins have long signalled the beginning of fall.  But there’s more to do with them than make a jack-o’-lantern.  Pumpkins are fat-free, contain lots of vitamin A and potassium,  and provide plenty of fiber. They’re also loaded with beta carotene, an important antioxidant that may reduce the risk of developing certain cancers and protect against heart disease.

Wondering how to encorporate pumpkins into your menu? Here are four of our favourite recipes.

Sophie Tucker Pumpkin Soup
When Sophie sang, the world applauded. When you serve this surprising delight, so will your guests. Ladle it from a hollowed-out pumpkin shell, then hand out copies of the recipe, from “the last of the red-hot mammas” herself.

PREPARATION: 12 minutes
COOKING: 42 minutes
FREEZING: not recommended
PER SERVING: 80 calories. Good source of calcium and protein

2 tbsp (25 mL) canola oil
2 large Spanish onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh ginger, minced
4 cups (lL) small cubes of pumpkin
6 cups (l.5L) low-sodium chicken stock
4 large tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups (500 mL) evaporated skim milk
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Garnish: slivered chanterelles or other mushrooms, sauteed in butter-flavored canola margarine.

  1. In a large pot, cook onions in oil over low heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Toss in garlic and ginger. Cook 2 more minutes.
  2. Add pumpkin cubes and stock. Boil. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in apples and simmer 20 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat. Allow mixture to cool. Puree in batches in blender or food processor. When smooth, return to pot, cover and reheat on medium. Stir in milk and season with salt and pepper.

Garnish and serve. Yield: 8 servings.

Margaret Laurence Pumpkin Ring
The beloved author or The Stone Angel and The Diviners was no slouch in the kitchen, as this side dish attests. A gardening friend in Lakefield, Ont., introduced her to the recipe which we’ve adapted.

PREPARATION: 6 minutes
COOKING: 70 minutes
FREEZING: Excellent
PER SERVING: 105 calories. Good source of calcium and protein

1 3-lb (l.5kg) pumpkin
l/4 cup (50 mL) canola margarine, melted
l/4 cup (50 mL) skim milk
3 low-cholesterol eggs*, well beaten
l/4 cup (50 mL) fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated onion
1/4 tsp (l mL) salt
1/8 tsp (1/2 mL black pepper, freshly ground
Cookware spray, preferably canola

  1. Cut pumpkin in half.
  2. Remove seeds, stringy portion and outside shell. Cut into small pieces.
  3. Steam until tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Mash or put through a coarse sieve.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  6. Add other ingredients to the pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Pack into a sprayed ring mold. Set mold in a pan of hot water and bake until firm, about 45 minutes.
  7. Unmold on a serving dish and fill the centre with peas or tiny onions tossed with canola margarine, or creamed mushrooms.

Yield: 8 servings.

Balmoral Pumpkin Pie
PREPARATION: 8 minutes
BAKING: 30 minutes
FREEZING: Excellent
PER SERVING: 200 calories. Excellent source of calcium. Good source of protein.

1 l/2 cups (375 mL) mashed cooked pumpkin
3/4 (175 mL) Splenda granular sweetener** or sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
1/2 tsp 2 mL) ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp 2 mL) ground cloves
3 low-cholesterol eggs, lightly beaten
1 l/4 cups (300 mL) cups skim milk
2/3 cup (150 mL) evaporated skim milk
1 unbaked low-cal pastry shell (see page 267 of The Memory Lane Cookbook — or your version).

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F(200C).
  2. Combine pumpkin, sweetener, salt and spices. Blend in eggs, milk and evaporated milk. Pour into pastry shell. (Crimp edges high because filling generous).
  3. Bake 30 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between centre and edge comes out clean. Cool.Yield: 8 servings.

Suggestion: Top with (250 mL) nonfat plain yogurt, seasoned with sugar and a drop or two of pure vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly and spread over pie. Yum! (And no calories).

Kelowna Muffins
These marvels originated with Jane Gowan in beautiful British Columbia. The oat bran’s soluble fibre helps you control cholesterol. This recipe could save your life.

PREPARATION TIME: 6 minutes
BAKING: 20 minutes
FREEZING: Excellent
PER MUFFIN: 140 calories. No cholesterol. Good source of carbohydrates, calcium and protein.
1 l/2 cups (375 mL) unprocessed oat bran
1/2 cup (125 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) soft whole wheat flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) pumpkin pie spice (recipe above)
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) cooked, mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup (125 mL) buttermilk
2 egg whites, beaten
2 tbsp (25 mL) canola oil
Canola cookware spray

  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stir well. Make a well in centre.
  2. Combine pumpkin and next 3 ingredients, stir well. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Do not beat.
  3. Spoon into sprayed muffin pans.

Bake at 425F (220C) for 20 minutes. Remove from pans and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 9 muffins.

VARIATIONS

  1. Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) roasted sunflower seeds or raisins to step 2.
  2. If pumpkin unavailable, use 3/4 cup (175 mL) mashed banana (about 1 medium).

* Sold under such brand names as Natura. Hens are fed special diets.

** Actually made from sugar. Same taste.