Tasty Pumpkin Treats

pumpkinseedsThis Halloween, don’t even think about tossing out the guts of your carved Jack-o’-lantern. Pumpkin is a fun and healthy alternative to the season’s ubiquitous candy offerings, and there are plenty of  enticing recipe ideas to put those pumpkin innards to good use.

Pumpkin seeds are loaded with protein, fiber, zinc, iron, and magnesium—as such, they add a nutritious punch to any meal. Here are just a few ideas for dressing up your food with pumpkin seeds:

– Add seeds to healthy sautéed vegetables.

– Sprinkle seeds on top of mixed green salads.

– Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley, and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.

– Add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal.

– Add pumpkin seeds to your oatmeal raisin cookie or granola recipe.

– Add ground pumpkin seeds to your turkey or beef burgers.

Pumpkin itself is a highly nutritious and low-calorie food. It contains fiber, protein, and carotenoids, which are antioxidants that may help protect against cancer and other diseases. Canned pumpkin is particularly convenient if you do not have time to carve a pumpkin and it’s available year-round. Whether eaten fresh or canned, try these healthy suggestions for adding pumpkin into your snacks and meals:

– Stir pumpkin puree and green chilies into homemade chili for a creamier texture with a Mexican twist.

– Whip up a smoothie with chilled pumpkin, milk or a milk alternative, fat-free vanilla yogurt or non-dairy yogurt, and a pinch each of sugar and pumpkin pie spice.

– Beat 8 ounces light cream cheese and 1 cup pumpkin until smooth; add 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, and serve as a dip for fruit and cookies or as a spread for toasted bagels.

After testing numerous recipes containing pumpkin, I decided to mix and match, which resulted in this delicious low-calorie dessert that took me less than five minutes to make. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did. Happy Halloween!


Servings: 8

•    8 oz (one small container) Lite Cool Whip

•    8 oz low-fat, plain yogurt

•    8 oz. canned pumpkin

•    dash of pumpkin pie spice

•    dash of cinnamon

•    1 ready made graham cracker pie crust

1.    Combine the Cool Whip, yogurt, pumpkin, and both spices until smooth.

2.    Pour the mixture into the pie crust and freeze for several hours until firm. Remove from freezer approximately 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole numbers): 182 calories; 8 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 2 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 173 g sodium. (Nutritional information provided by recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp)

Jennifer Adams is a nationally certified personal trainer and exercise instructor who has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years.  She is the owner of Sand N Sea Fitness in Santa Cruz and is a practicing attorney. Contact her at [email protected]

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