The pumpkin, along with the rest of the gourd family, is native to the western hemisphere and has been cultivated in North America for at least 5,000 years. They are a staple during the U.S. Thanksgiving meal and North American harvest festivals. Thanks to Irish immigrants, they are also the modern choice for carving jack-o’-lanterns. 

Although we like to add a profusion of butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup to our pumpkins, on their own they are low in calories and fat, high in fiber, and an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B, potassium, and iron. Here are some delicious ideas that can enhance pumpkin nutrition and take you beyond pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Kale Garam Masala smoothie // Photo by S. Michal Bennett

First, make your own canned pumpkin, without the can. Remove the stem and seeds of a small pumpkin, roast in a 375-degree oven (with the seeds, if desired) until easily pierced with a knife, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Second, make it savory. Pumpkin hummus can be made with garbanzo beans or white beans. Add more fiber to pumpkin mac and cheese with some wilted spinach. Pumpkin curry brings together seasonal flavors with stimulating spices and creamy coconut milk. Dress your green smoothie for fall with a dollop of pumpkin puree.

For a twist on sweet, make your own pumpkin butter and add it to milkshakes, oatmeal, energy balls, and a simple slice of toast.