With every winter comes the pumpkin craze. The pumpkin spice lattes come out, the pumpkin muffins and pumpkin breads arrive, the pumpkins and squash show up in the grocery store and at the farmers market to roast for dinner and the cans of pumpkin go on sale at the supermarket.
And if you’re like me, you never get tired of it, and more than that, you’re always up for new ways to incorporate it into your diet.
Here are 7 creative, healthy ways to use pumpkin that you may have never thought of:
- Baking – While baking with pumpkin is nothing new, what you can bake with it is open to lots of creativity and imagination! If you are after really fudgy brownies, without the sugar, oil and processed ingredients, add in some pumpkin. The moisture content of the pumpkin means it keeps the brownies fudgy inside, while the subtle sweetness of pumpkin means you don’t have to go too heavy on the sugar. Use raw cacao for your chocolate and you’ll get an antioxidant boost as well as one healthy, chocolate treat!
- Smoothies – Pumpkin is the best addition to your healthy smoothie to make it extra thick and creamy. And if you are like me, and prefer your smoothies as smoothie bowls instead of the drinkable kind, pumpkin is just the answer you are after. Add a quarter cup into your blender the next time you are making a smoothie and see the creamy, dreamy difference. Or if you want, add closer to a full cup and you can even make a pumpkin pie smoothie!
- Pudding – Just like pumpkin makes your smoothies smooth and creamy, it’s the best solution to create thick, smooth pudding without any cream or dairy. Simply blend together pumpkin and frozen banana with some vanilla protein powder or vanilla extract and you’ll have a wonderfully creamy, pumpkin creation that has no refined sugar and is actually healthy for you!
- Ice Cream – Using the pudding instructions above, add in two cans of coconut cream and puree until smooth. Place the mixture in your freezer to harden for 3-4 hours and then remove and blend a second time. The result will be smooth, creamy pumpkin flavoured ice cream without any of the guilt! Better yet, add some cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves to the mixture before blending it and you’ll have a bowl full of pumpkin pie ice cream!
- Dressings and sauces – My favourite way to make creamy vegan cheese sauce extra creamy (and extra yellow!), is to add in pumpkin or butternut squash. Combined with the nutritional yeast, salt and white beans, the result is a really creamy sauce that you can pour over pasta, use for dipping nachos or even use as a dressing for salads and vegetables. While you can make it without the pumpkin, you’ll really love the creaminess that it brings if you add it in!
- Gnocchi – Don’t assume that it’s only potatoes that can make delicious, pillowy gnocchi! Cook up some pumpkin, mash it up, and pass it through a cheesecloth or fine sieve to remove the extra moisture. Then, add your flour and proceed as you would regular gnocchi. The result is delicious, pumpkin flavoured gnocchi that is perfect with a rich mushroom miso sauce and that pairs wonderfully with other fall vegetables such as brussel sprouts and roasted cabbage!
- Hot breakfast cereal – For chilly fall mornings, when you are making your oatmeal, stir in a few tablespoons of pumpkin. Not only does it make it extra thick and creamy, especially when cooked with coconut milk and some cinnamon and ginger, but it is also high in fiber meaning it will fill you up for longer and help breakfast carry you all the way through to lunch time!