When you’re out picking out your pumpkins for Halloween, don’t just think about carving that Jack O’ Lantern, think about eating the very delicious and nutritious pumpkin purée and seeds! Look for the smaller sugar pumpkin varieties; these are the sweetest and best for baking. Pumpkin is low in calories, low in fat, packed with fiber and high in Vitamin A. Learn how to make a basic pumpkin purée below to fully enjoy pumpkin’s fall flavor. You can use the purée for pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pudding, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin cheesecake and more. Use the pumpkin seeds as a salty snack, topping for soups and stews, in salads and as a topping for pumpkin muffins.
Basic Pumpkin Purée
Preheat oven to 325° F. Cut a sugar pumpkin in half, stem to base. Remove seeds and pulp. Cover each half with foil. Bake foil side up, 1 hour, or until tender. Scrape meat from halves and purée in a food processor or blender. Strain to remove stringy pieces. Use in recipes or store in the freezer in freezer safe bags.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (also known as pepitas*)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Separate the seeds of a carved pumpkin from the stringy membrane and rinse the seeds to remove remaining membrane. Place seeds on a paper towel to dry for 20 minutes. Spray a cooking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and place the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool and enjoy. Store extra seeds in an airtight container.
* Pepitas are packed with iron, zinc and monounsaturated fats.