We LOVE pumpkin in this house (well, except my husband who is a good sport) and eat it all year round. High in Vitamin A and fiber, pumpkin is a powerhouse fruit that appeals to kids with its sweet taste. Yes, it’s a fruit, although in my head I still consider it a vegetable! Botanically speaking, it’s a fruit because it develops from a flower and contains seeds.
Topping my list of 5 favorite pumpkin foods are:
1 - Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – I make these every year but this year they tasted exceptionally better with the addition of one step to a standard recipe: After rinsing and cleaning the seeds, let them dry out for about 24 hours before cooking. This extra step removed that chewy, never-going-to-break-down, aspect of pumpkin seeds!
2 - Pumpkin Muffins – These appear in our house frequently and disappear quickly. I use a healthier version of a recipe with whole wheat flour and canola oil.
3 - Pumpkin Pancakes – A popular kids’ breakfast with antioxidants, what could be better? I make a double batch and either eat them a few days later or wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze.
4 - Pumpkin Curry – Roast and chop fresh pumpkin, then simmer with one can of coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of red curry paste, and ½ cup of water. This is the basic recipe, and you can add pretty much whatever you have on hand: extra veggies, shrimp, tofu, chicken, beans, fresh cilantro or basil...
5 - Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese – Yum. You can add a healthier twist on Mac and Cheese with the addition of something like pumpkin and cut back on the fat (butter/cheese). Using cheese with a lot of flavor, such as extra sharp cheddar, helps when you are cutting the amount down.
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
- One 16 oz. box macaroni
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 Tbsp butter
- One 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
- 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese (6 oz.)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (5 slices white or wheat bread)
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Cook macaroni according to directions, in salted water. Drain and transfer to baking dish.
- Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. When melted, whisk in flour for one minute.
- Slowly add milk, whisking to remove bumps.
- Add pumpkin and cook until mixture is warmed, almost simmering, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Pour mixture over macaroni.
- Melt butter, mix with fresh breadcrumbs, and sprinkle on top.
- Bake 20 minutes, may broil at end for 3 minutes to brown top.