FOOD

How to Cook Pumpkin: Recipes for Seeds, Pies, & More

October 22nd, 2018

Pumped for pumpkin season? So are we. If there’s one iconic vegetable to ring in autumn, this golden ingredient is it, and from recipes to top products, we’ve got everything you need to let your pumpkin spice obsession shine!

What Are Pumpkins

Pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants (as are squash and gourds). According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, this includes more than 900 species, from cucumbers to watermelons. They also note, “the term ‘pumpkin’ really has no botanical meaning, as they are actually all squash.” To make things extra confusing, “gourd” is the general term used for all plants in the genera Cucurbita (aka squash) family of plants, so pumpkins are also technically gourds. But rest assured, we don’t foresee anyone switching things up to call their jack-o-lantern anything but a pumpkin. It’s fun to know the facts, though!

And while we’re going over pumpkin trivia, here’s another common question: Is pumpkin a vegetable or a fruit? The answer is … fruit! This comes straight from Farmer’s Almanac, and if you’re curious as to why, the reason is because pumpkins are full of seeds. They might not grow as tree fruits like apples or pears, but pumpkins are fruits on the vine just the same.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Inside every can of pumpkin, you’ll find several beneficial nutrients:

  • 1.7 mg iron (10% daily value)
  • 3 grams dietary fiber (11% daily value)
  • 31 mg calcium (2% daily value)
  • 1 gram protein (1% daily value)

Cooking With Pumpkin

When it comes to cooking with pumpkin, there are two ways to go: canned, or freshly roasted. Is one option better than another? Not really, but it all depends on the quality of the can.

Cooking With Canned Pumpkin

Canned Pumpkin

When relying on canned pumpkin, check the ingredients list—pumpkin should be the only thing inside. Pure pumpkin (as opposed to pre-flavored pumpkin pie filling) is the most versatile, so from sweet to savory, you can add any flavors you want. Canned pumpkin is also consistent in texture, making it a great option for pie fillings that need to stay sturdy.

Cooking With Roasted Pumpkin

Roasting your own pumpkin takes a little effort, but there’s a big payoff. Want to cook pumpkin for pie? Just preheat your oven to 400°F, halve a pumpkin, scoop out the seeds, and roast cut-side down for about 45 minutes, or until the flesh is tender and easily scoops out with a spoon. Once cooled, you can get baking, but there are lots of other uses, too. Add the flesh to a pot of curry, or smooth it out in a food processor for adding to batters and lattes. And don’t forget about the seeds! Roasted pumpkin seeds make great additions to soups and salads, or a stand-alone snack. Just read the section below for proof.

How to Cook Pumpkin Seeds

Whether you scoop the seeds yourself or start with a bag of raw pumpkin seeds, this makes for a perfect midday nosh. Here are two of our favorite, easy-as-pie recipes.

Pumpkin Pie Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

All the flavors of fall are roasted into every bite.

Za’atar Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

To expand your horizons, try for some Middle Eastern flavor.

Ingredients
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sumac
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss pumpkin seeds with remaining ingredients and spread onto prepared baking sheet. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until toasted; cool.

Stock Your Pantry With Pumpkin

Pumpkin isn’t just for autumn. Stock your pantry with these pumpkin-infused favorites to enjoy the flavors year-round.

Thrive Market Organic Pumpkin

With only one ingredient—vine-ripened organic pumpkin—the smooth texture and rich taste makes this a year-round pantry staple that’s Paleo and vegan.

Thrive Market Organic Pumpkin Seeds

Scooped from organic pumpkin, these seeds taste great straight from the bag, sprinkled over salads, or added to granola.

Simple Mills Pumpkin Muffin and Bread Mix

Gluten-free eaters will fall for this mix made with whole food ingredients like almond flour, coconut flour, and coconut sugar. Make muffins or bread, it’s up to you!

Taza Organic Pumpkin Seed Dark Bark

For your sweet fix, try this bark with 80 percent dark chocolate that’s topped with quinoa, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a dash of sea salt.

Nutpods Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

Get your morning brew fall-ready with this pumpkin spice-flavored creamer. It’s Whole30-approved, and the packaging is made from 95 percent plant-based renewable raw materials.

Califia Farms Coconut Cream & Almondmilk Pumpkin Spice Creamer

Your daily pumpkin spice fix is easy to get with this coconut cream and almond milk blend. Add a splash to your coffee, tea, or even a bowl of oatmeal!

Natural Nectar Organic Pumpkin Seeds & Whole Grain Crispbreads

For an easy lunch or snack, pumpkin seed crackers are the way to go. Pile on the tuna, spread some hummus, or make a tartine with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Each serving has 13g of whole grains to help you feel full.

Thrive Market Organic Pumpkin Punch Granola

Maple syrup, pumpkin, coconut, and a blend of spices give this granola an addicting flavor. It’s made with a blend of seeds, sprouted nuts, and dried figs for delicate sweetness.

Nummy Tum Tum Pamperin’ Pumpkin Blend

Give your four-legged friend some extra love with this pouch made with organic pumpkin, apples, and cranberries. Top dried food or use it as a travel treat.

Amara Pumpkin and Pear Baby Food

Give your littlest eater a taste of the season with this baby food blend. Pumpkin and pear, plus a dash of cinnamon, will be a household favorite.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Blend

For all the comforting flavors of fall, all you need to do is mix up a few warm spices. Here’s our foolproof blend for all your seasonal baking needs! Just combine all the ingredients below into a small jar and seal it for up to six months.

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkins might take center stage in Thanksgiving desserts (recipes below!), but there’s a lot more you can do with this versatile ingredient.

Pumpkin Reishi Soup

Nothing says fall comfort food like a bowl of soup. This recipe blends canned pumpkin with vegetable stock, coconut milk, and a dash of reishi powder.

Pumpkin-Swirled Mashed Potatoes

Meet everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish. The colorful spuds get drizzled with a vegan rosemary gravy to top it off.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte

Savor the season in latte form, featuring the usual suspects of spices along with cold brew concentrate to give you the energy boost you need.

Honey Turmeric Pumpkin Latte

This vegan drink nixes espresso in favor of creamy coconut milk. It’s blended up with turmeric, vanilla extract, and raw honey for a perfectly balanced sip.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Quinoa Pancakes

Morning, sunshine! This short stack is extra special thanks to a thick maple cream cheese filling you can spread between every layer. Perfect for brunch or a lazy Saturday morning!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Start your day with this filling smoothie that’s brimming with spices like cinnamon and ginger, plus dates for sweetness and real pumpkin.

Creamy Pumpkin Hummus

Need a healthier option to enjoy at your next gathering? This hummus is our go-to app. Pair it with fresh veggies and pita chips, or add it to a grain bowl with brown rice, wilted greens, and avocado.

Pumpkin Dessert Recipes

You’ll love these fall flavored sweets to end your meal on a high note.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies With Coconut Hazelnut Filling

This isn’t your ordinary dessert. With a creamy hazelnut filling piped between two tender, pumpkin spice-flavored cookies, it’s a match made in sweet treat heaven.

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is a fall baking staple. We whipped up a Paleo-friendly option using almond flour, coconut flour, lots of spices, and a whole can of real pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spiced Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds are small but mighty! Stirred with creamy almond milk and fragrant spices, chia seeds bloom into a luscious, pumpkin-infused dessert that’s perfect for the season. A spoonful of energizing MCT oil adds a keto-friendly boost, too!

Paleo Maple Pumpkin Pie

If you’re in charge of bringing a pie to Thanksgiving, we’ve got one the whole fam will love. The walnut and pecan crust adds extra nutty flavor, and the custard filling is sweetened with maple syrup.

Vegan Pumpkin Hand Pies

Pumpkin pie, to go! This treat has all the classic flavors of this favorite seasonal dessert, but with the added bonus of being portable. The maple glaze is optional but highly recommended for extra fall vibes!

Chocolate-Covered Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Plain ol’ peanut brittle gets a seasonal upgrade, and we’re not mad about the chocolate and sea salt coating, either. Your guests won’t be able to stop nibbling!

Pumpkin seed brittle

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Nicole GulottaNicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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