Fall is upon us and it seems that everywhere you turn there are pumpkins! The good news is that this fall favorite is a delicious and nutritious addition to your meal. Pumpkin is low in calories and fat while providing lots of vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked pumpkin counts as a serving of vegetables and is a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as riboflavin, potassium, copper, manganese and fiber. Eating pumpkins is great for your vision, blood pressure and heart, AND it keeps you feeling full longer. In addition to the flesh of the pumpkin, the seeds are edible treats that pack protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and omega-3 fatty acids. Add a few tablespoons of pumpkin seeds to salad or granola, or eat them on their own for a healthy and delicious snack.

While pumpkin is best known for its use in pumpkin pie, it is very versatile and can be incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes. Pumpkin can be prepared similarly to sweet potatoes but for less than a third of the calories. It can be served roasted, added to pasta, curries and chili, or pureed into soups and sauces. The best pumpkins for cooking and baking are sweet, flavorful and have smooth-textured flesh. Popular varieties to look for are Sugar pumpkins, also called pie pumpkins, or Japanese pumpkins called Kabocha. If you can’t get your hands on fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin is a great alternative that’s available year-round.

Here’s a simple and hearty recipe for chili using canned pumpkin.

Pumpkin Chili

1 lb. ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced or 1 tsp. of granulated garlic
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 c. of canned pumpkin
1 14.5 oz. can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil, onions, and celery. Cook until slightly translucent.
  2. Add ground turkey and cook until browned.
  3. Add garlic and chili powder and cook for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, canned pumpkin, kidney beans and salt and simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring often.