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October 5, 2012

5 Ways I Love to Use Pumpkin

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

I love pumpkin, and my kitchen cabinets are proof.  Once canned pumpkin appears on store shelves in early Fall, I stock up, buying five or so cans at a time. My kids call it hoarding; I call it being prepared for when the pumpkin urge strikes.

Here are some of the ways I use my pumpkin stash.

1. Whip up a Cinnamon Pumpkin Smoothie

I shouldn't play favorites, but I have to admit that this smoothie is one of the most delicious recipes in my book, MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better .

It's tasty, and it's good for you, too. One serving supplies nearly 400 milligrams calcium, 10 grams protein, and 8 grams of fiber. Even better, you get to drink a serving of vegetables!

Cinnamon Pumpkin Smoothie
Makes 1 serving

1 cup Hood Milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or use less sugar, artificial sweetener, or a mixture)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.  Pour into a tall glass and drink immediately.

Note: You can freeze any leftover pumpkin puree.

2. Prepare Pumpkin Quesadillas

This is a great way to use up leftover pumpkin puree.

In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup pumpkin puree with 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Spread equal amounts of the pumpkin mixture over two 10-inch whole wheat tortillas, and sprinkle two ounces of crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese on top of each tortilla. Top each tortilla with another to make a sandwich. Coat a 12-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Cook quesadillas over medium heat, one at a time, turning once. Makes 4 servings.

3. Pump up soups and stews

Stir a 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree (about 2 cups worth) into a batch of chicken soup or white bean chili. The pumpkin flavor isn't pronounced, but you really jack up the nutrition.

4. Swirl it into your morning oatmeal

Prepare one-minute oats in the microwave with a serving of Hood Milk instead of water. Stir in 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, a pinch of cinnamon, and 1/4 cup raisins.

5. Make a pumpkin dip

This delicious dip serves 12. Enjoy it with sliced apples or graham crackers.

In a medium bowl, beat 4 ounces softened light cream cheese with 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt until smooth. Add a 15-ounce can of pure pumpkin puree (about 2 cups), 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Beat until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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