Say the words canned pumpkin, and images of pumpkin pie immediately come to mind. However, there are so many other ways you can use the ubiquitous-to-the-season orange fruit. Here are seven ways to pop open a can and create something spectacular:
1. A decadent smoothie
At Rosalie Bay Resort, an eco-boutique and wellness resort in Dominica, the Nature Island of the Caribbean, you can count on sipping a pumpkin-laced protein-packed smoothie. The secret ingredient: Silken soft tofu (though you can substitute vanilla Greek yogurt if you prefer).
Yield: 6 servings
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
- 2-2 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground ginger
- 1 package (120 oz.) silken, soft tofu or 1 1/2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 - 3 cups of vanilla soy or almond milk (depending on how thick you like your smoothie)
- 2 cups ice (or more until desired consistency is reached)
- Put all ingredients except for ice in blender and blend until it reaches a smooth, creamy appearance.
- Add ice and blend.
- Top with fresh grated nutmeg and serve.
2. Pizza with a twist
Why not substitute a pumpkin crust for a run-of-the-mill white flour one, suggests Stacey Isaacs, who writes the blog, Kitchen of Youth. This one's grain-free and is made by mixing pumpkin puree with seeds and spices. "The end result is beautiful, delicious and filled with superfoods," she says.
Yield: Serves 2 to 3
Pumpkin Pizza Crust
- 1 15-oz. can of pumpkin
- 3/4 cup tapioca flour
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 1 cup shredded Daiya mozzarella cheese (or other non-dairy or regular cheese of choice)
- 1/4 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
- 10 grape tomatoes, halved
- Handful of arugula
- Drizzle of quality extra-virgin olive oil
- Dried red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine the pumpkin with the tapioca flour. Add the salt, garlic powder, oregano, chia seeds and hemp seeds and mix until combined well.
- Spread the pumpkin dough onto a baking stone or pizza pan, making it about 1/4-inch thick all around. Bake the crust for 30-35 minutes, or until it's a bit crispy, but watch that it doesn’t burn.
- Top the crust with the sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and optional Parmesan. Arrange tomatoes all around. Bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- Remove the pizza from the oven, arrange some arugula on top and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with hot red pepper flakes if desired.
3. A latte with a twist
Try this pumpkin spiced tea latte with canned pumpkin and sip a healthy beverage created by Jessica Spinner, a health coach in Boston. "This is an awesome choice because this is relatively low in sugar — since honey is the only source," she says. "I also like the additional cinnamon since it helps to stabilize blood sugar."
Yield: 2 servings
Pumpkin Spiced Tea Latte
- 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 3 herbal chai tea bags or pumpkin spice tea bags
- 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
- 2-3 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a pot, boil the almond milk with the tea bags (remove strings from tea bags first). Stir in the pumpkin, honey, cinnamon and vanilla. Bring to a boil for 3-4 minutes stirring throughout.
- Add additional honey or cinnamon to taste. Remove tea bags, pour into cups and enjoy!
4. Retooling traditional mac 'n' cheese
Why not give a pumpkin-y twist to this comfort-food dish? "This is a delicious, cheesy whole plant-based version," says Juhea Kim, editor-in-chief of Peaceful Dumpling, a vegan website. "In fact, with its high vitamin A (pumpkin) and zinc (cashew) content, this pumpkin mac n cheese will make your skin glow from inside out."
Yield: 4 servings
Vegan Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac 'n' Cheese
- 4 oz. pasta
- 1 small head cauliflower, chopped fine
- 1 1/3 cup cashews, soaked in warm water for at least 1 hour then drained
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling on top
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
- Bread crumbs (optional)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta (about 5 minutes for elbows) and cauliflowers, and drain; set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, process pumpkin, cashews, milk, lemon juice, oil, garlic powder, turmeric, mustard powder, nutritional yeast salt and black pepper until smooth.
- In a baking pan, add pasta, cauliflower and "cheese" sauce and fold together. Adjust seasoning to taste. Top with bread crumbs and bake, covered, for about 30 minutes.
- Uncover. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of olive oil and bake for another 5-8 minutes until the top is crusty and golden brown in places.
5. A healthy pancake option
When it comes to pancakes, it's all about texture, Peaceful Dumpling’s Kim says. "These have the just-right combination of slightly crispy exterior and edges, and fluffy and flavorful interior," she says. "Plus, there's just something so magical about this fall flavor in pancake form — it calls to mind your most relaxing, cozy weekend spent with loved ones."
Yield: 5 medium-sized pancakes
Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes
- 1/2 can pumpkin puree
- 1/2 teaspooon natural vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 1/4 cup cooked kabocha squash chunks (I like the consistency of kabocha, but butternut would also work well)
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (plus more to taste)
- Vegan butter or oil for the pan
- Coconut whipped cream (will have leftovers)
- 1 can chilled coconut milk (full fat)
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoon almond milk
- If you have leftover roasted or steamed squash, use them. If not, cut kabocha squash in half or in quarters, depending on the size. Add about 2 inches of water to a large pot or Dutch oven. Add squash pieces and bring to boil. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until completely cooked through. Scoop out the seeds, then peel and cut into small, 1/2″ sized chunks. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix pumpkin puree, vanilla, sugar and almond milk. Add squash chunks.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and spices.
- Add the flour mixture to the large bowl and quickly combine.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Tip: Using a nonstick pan is super important. It’s the key to making pancakes easily. Add a small amount of vegan butter, canola or coconut oil. When it's melted, add about 1/3 cup of batter to the pan and spread it out gently with a spatula. Cover with a lid and cook on low for 3 minutes. Uncover, flip carefully and cook on the other side, covered again, for about 2-3 minutes. Take off the pan, and add a bit more vegan butter before starting again. Repeat until all the batter is done.
- Take the chilled coconut milk from the fridge. Open the can and carefully scoop up the top cream part only. Whisk together with powdered milk and vanilla, adding a splash of almond milk to adjust consistency.
- Serve the pancakes with cream, syrup (if desired), powdered sugar and cinnamon.
6. Healthy pumpkin brownies
For a gluten-free treat, these pumpkin brownie stacks won't disappoint, says Toni Miller of Make Bake Celebrate. The pumpkin is tucked right in the frosting — a perfect flavor complement to this easy-to-make chocolate-y cake.
Yield: 16 brownies
Pumpkin Brownie Stacks
Ingredients for brownies
- 1 package Krusteaz Gluten Free Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 egg
Ingredients pumpkin cream cheese frosting
- 4 oz. cream cheese (softened)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Whip cream and chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease an 8 inch x 8 inch x 2 inch baking pan.
- Stir together brownie mix, water, oil and egg until combined. Spoon batter into lightly greased baking pan and spread evenly.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 48-52 minutes. Once brownies are done, remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into 16 squares measuring 2 inches x 2 inches or 2 inch circles (using a cookie cutter).
- For the frosting, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Next, mix in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. Then beat in powdered sugar and beat once more until combined. Remove 16 cut brownie pieces from pan and place separated on a large cookie sheet. Using a piping bag or spatula cover each brownie square with pumpkin frosting. Stack frosted brownies in sets of two, top with whip cream and chocolate chips if desired.
7. A pumpkin facial
You don't have to reserve pumpkin for food. A face mask using this bright-orange fruit can do wonders for your skin as pumpkin contains fruit acid enzymes that help remove dead skin cells and surface impurities from your skin. "This facial mask works really well at keeping skin fresh and clear," says Janice Cox, author of "Natural Beauty at Home." "Pumpkin also has anti-inflammatory properties making it naturally soothing. Plus, it can be used by all skin types."
Yield: 1.5 oz.
Pumpkin Face Mask
- 2 tablespoon canned pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pure honey
- Stir all of the ingredients together until smooth. Spoon into a clean container with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator.
Massage into clean damp skin and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse well with warm water and pat dry. Follow up with a rich moisturizer or light natural oil. Store leftover mask in the refrigerator or freezer.