Having Fun with Fall Foods

When you think about eating healthy, fun might not be the first word that comes to mind, probably not even the second.  The truth is that eating heathy SHOULD be fun and CAN be fun.

Fall is my favorite season.  The crisp air, changing colors of the leaves, and not least of all, the tasty seasonal fruits and vegetables.  Between apples, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and many more it is hard to pick a favorite, but I would have to say that pumpkin tops my list.  There are many different ways to use pumpkin in recipes that you already make.  With Delaware being chock full of Farmers Markets (follow the link to find one near you) you can pick up a fresh pumpkin, bake or roast it, and use it in a variety of ways. What I’m going to talk about though, is pureed pumpkin.  To be honest, for convenience sake I use canned.  You can get canned pumpkin at your local grocery store.  I recently found some on sale for just $1.00 a can!  The best part is canned, frozen, or fresh- pumpkin is equally nutritious.

The key to buying canned pumpkin is to look for 100% pumpkin.  The only item listed in the Ingredient list should be “pumpkin”.  A lot of time canned pumpkin is right next to the canned pumpkin pie filling.  Not only is canned pumpkin pie filling less nutritious (i.e. a lot more sugar), it also probably wouldn’t taste as good in some of ways I’ll soon describe.  In just ½ cup of 100% canned pumpkin you get about 250% of your daily vitamin A, 3 grams of fiber, and 6% of your daily iron needs, all for only 50 calories.  If you’re looking to boost your veggie intake without really changing up what you are already eating you can easily add pumpkin into your favorite meals.  Add a few scoops to your morning oatmeal.  You can add pumpkin pie spice to really give it a fall feel or flavor it as you normally would.  The coolest thing about pumpkin (in my opinion at least) is that unless you add a large amount it really doesn’t change the flavor of what you add it to.  The flavor that we normally associate with pumpkin is actually the spices that we add to it.  This means you can add pureed pumpkin to savory meals without making it taste like a dessert.  Think mac and cheese, lasagna, or my personal fall favorite, chili!

pumpkin five ways recipes

The pumpkin adds a thickness and a nice color, but keeps the same yummy chili flavor that so many of us love.  I’m not the only one who agrees.  The video below shows Cooperative Extension Educator & fellow Living Great in the First State blogger, Kathleen Splane, making a Pumpkin Chili of her own.  Watch & learn how.  It’s easy I promise.