Top 5 Ways to Use Pumpkins + Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin, the harbinger of fall, is a beloved part of every October. You can find pumpkin in everything these days from pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice muffins, to pumpkin hummus, pasta, coffee and tea. You can even wash your face with pumpkin! I personally love when pumpkins make their presence each season, because it’s about time people realized that pumpkin is so much more than a pie filling. Cultures around the globe have cherished pumpkin as a main ingredient in savory dishes, from Latin American soups and stews to Thai pumpkin dumplings and stir-fries. In fact, pumpkins are part of the Three Sisters pre-Columbian agricultural tradition in the Americas—maize was planted in a mound to act as a pole for beans to climb, with squash or pumpkin plant at the base for shade.

Pumpkins on display at the Nashville farmers market. Aren’t they lovely?

Pumpkin Nutrition

Pumpkins are in the same family as winter squash, and they are packed with nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamins A and C, fiber, copper, potassium, slow-digesting carbs, and more. I grew pumpkins in my garden this summer—the result of composting pumpkins last fall and the seeds catching hold in my garden to produce mystery vines. And now I have their cheerful shapes and curling vines gracing my mantel and doorstep as I welcome fall into my home. I love cooking with these gems, too. Check out my five favorite ways to use pumpkin in the kitchen below.

Pumpkins are great for decorating your home in the fall. This is a beautiful pumpkin store-front display I spied in Vermont a few years ago. Pumpkins at the Nashville farmers market Try growing pumpkins in your garden. I picked pumpkins at this farm in Washington state a few years ago.

Top 5 Ways to Use Pumpkin

Vegan Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Seeds

1. Bake with Pumpkin

Turn your kitchen into nirvana with the aroma of pumpkin spice baking in your oven in breads, pies, cookies, bars, and muffins. While you’re at it, check out my recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins in my book Plant-Powered for Life.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

2. Stir in Mashed Pumpkin

Cook up pumpkin and mash it (or simply open up a can of pumpkin) to stir into so many wonderful recipes, such as soups, pies, pasta dishes (check out my Vegan Carbonara with Pumpkin) macaroni and “cheese” (let pumpkin stand in for cheese!), and even a pumpkin latte. Skip those fake lattes with pumpkin additives and use the real thing. Check out my Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte in my new video and learn how to make a healthier version of this classic fall staple.

Make your own home-made pumpkin puree!

3. Blend Pumpkin Up!

Throw cooked pumpkin into a blender to make pumpkin puree for a variety of recipes, such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin oats, pumpkin energy balls, and pumpkin bread. Learn how to make home-made pumpkin puree in my step-by-step guide here. You can also toss cooked pumpkin into your next smoothie, such as Spiced Pumpkin Smoothie.

Black Lentil Pesto Salad with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts

4. Save the Seeds

Don’t throw out those pumpkin seeds! Roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and seasonings and enjoy them as a nutrient-rich snack. Sprinkle them over salads, such as my Salad with Cantaloupe, Radishes, and Pumpkin Seeds, into baked goods, and on your veggies.

Use pumpkin in your roasted veggie recipes—you can easily swap out the squash in a recipe, such as this Balsamic Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Farro, for pumpkin.

5. Use Pumpkin as a Vegetable

Don’t forget that pumpkin is a vegetable, not just an ingredient. You can roast it just like you would winter squash, cube it in soups and stews, and sauté it in a savory stir-fry.

For other tips on how to use plant foods, check out the following:

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Top 5 Ways to Use Turmeric + Turmeric Recipes
Top 5 Ways to Use Chickpeas
How to Use Sweet Potatoes
How to Use Cinnamon and Cinnamon Sticks
How to Cook Kohlrabi


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