Pumpkins make more than Jack-O-Lanterns, they are also a good food source

There are many ways to prepare pumpkins for dinner or dessert.

LOGAN – When Halloween is over, don’t throw out the Jack-O-Lanterns on the porch. They are an excellent food source, according to Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences educator in Weber County. She is the go-to pumpkin expert in the USU Extension family and has some great suggestions for using pumpkins for something other than pie or cookies.

Teresa Hunsaker is a Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences educator.

“Pumpkin can be used for so much more than just carving, crafts or cookies,” she said. “There are many ways to prepare it, and many people aren’t aware of the health benefits, which are an added bonus.”

Hunsaker said pumpkin is low in calories. One-half cup of mashed pumpkin (without salt) has 24 calories, 0 grams (g) fat, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 1 milligram sodium. Pumpkins are packed with nutrients, such as fiber and beta carotene. Our bodies use beta carotene to produce vitamin A. Pumpkins are also rich in potassium.

“You can steam a pumpkin, bake it, boil it, microwave it (if you put slits in it) and pressure cook it,” she said. “Once cooked it can be mashed, pureed, cubed and stored in either the fridge or freezer in air-tight containers.”

Some of the options for mashed or pureed pumpkin (either fresh or canned) include: muffins, biscuits, quick breads, soups and sauce for mac and cheese or other pastas.

“It can also be added to chili, smoothies, cheese balls and hummus,” Hunsaker said. “Cubed and cooked pumpkin can be used with pasta, risotto, soups, salads and casseroles.”

Hunsaker recommends a few pumpkin recipes to try to give your family a delicious taste of fall.

Pumpkin Chili is a great Fall dish.

Pumpkin Chili  (From Taste of Home)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 3/4 cup fresh steamed, mashed pumpkin; or use 1 can of 15 ounces, solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken, or cooked ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and pepper; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker; stir in the next 10 ingredients. Cook, covered, on low 4-5 hours. If desired, cube avocado and thinly
slice green onions, and top when serving.

Yield: 10 servings

Pumpkin soup is one of the many ways to reuse Jack-O-Lanterns.

Quick and Easy Creamy Pumpkin Soup  (From NDSU Extension Service)

  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly, tops included
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 green chili pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth, reduced sodium, or 6 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 3/4 cup fresh steamed and pureed pumpkin; or use 1 can 15 ounce solid-pack pumpkin)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup undiluted, evaporated skim milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley

In a 6-quart saucepan, sauté onions, green onions, celery and chili pepper in oil. Cook until onions begin to look translucent. Add broth, pumpkin, bay leaf and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf. Add evaporated milk and cook over low heat 5 minutes. Do not boil. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, if desired. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Transfer hot soup to a cleaned pumpkin, if desired.

In order to keep the soup hot longer when transferring to a cleaned pumpkin, heat the cleaned pumpkin for 15 minutes on a cookie sheet at 350 F. This heats the inside up nicely but does not make the pumpkin soft. Once the soup is cleaned out, you can either fully cook the pumpkin for future use or discard it.


Pumpkins can be used to make bread, muffins and many other pastries.

Pumpkin Muffins  (So Yummy!)

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup chopped nuts-optional
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp mace-optional
  • ½ cup buttermilk

Cream sugars and butter in a large mixing bowl.  Add in the egg, pumpkin, and nuts (if using).  Combine dry ingredients and add alternately to the creamed mixture with buttermilk.  Mix just enough to blend ingredients.  Do not over mix.  Spoon into paper lined muffin pans, filling about half full.  Bake at 375 F. for 20-25 minutes.  Makes approx. 18 muffins—depending on size.


Pumpkin Ice Cream

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

In a heavy saucepan combine cream, milk, and sugar over medium heat.  Cook just until the mixture begins to steam-with slight bubbles around the edge.  Remove from heat.  Whish about ½ cup of the mixture into egg yolks, then whisk the yolk/cream mixture back into the remaining cream mixture.  Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly.  When the mixture costs the back of a metal spoon, and is not quite to the boiling stage, remove from heat and cool completely.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Freeze mixture in an ice cream freezer.  Makes 5 ½ cups.


Pumpkin Cheesecake in an Electric Pressure Cooker


  • 24-26 crisp ginger cookies
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 TBS butter, melted
  • 2 TBS brown sugar

Break up the cookies and place in a food processor.  Pulse several times until the cookies turn into fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter and pulse several times to combine and soften the crumbs. Scrape the bowl of the food processor and pulse a few more times.  Pour crust mixture into prepared pan 7” or 8” springform pan, and use your fingers or the bottom of a small glass to press the mixture into place. Cover the entire bottom of the pan and come up the sides just a little. Should be about 1/4” thick or so.  Put the pan in the freezer to chill while the cheesecake filling is prepared.


  • 2 8 ounce pkg. of cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 whole eggs, plus 1 yolk
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup sour cream or heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp flour

Add the cream cheese and sugar to a medium bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the vanilla, pumpkin puree, sour cream, spices, and flour.  Mix until well blended and smooth and creamy.  Add the eggs last and beat just until blended. It is important not whip or over mix the eggs, as that will ruin the texture and density of your cheesecake!

Take the crust from the freezer and pour the filling into the pan.

Cover the pan with a piece of foil. Crimp the edges around the pan so it stays taut and secure.  Place pan on a trivet in the inner pot of electric pressure cooker that has 1 ½ cups water in the bottom.  Pressure cook on HIGH for 45-48 minutes, using a natural release.  Check for doneness before chilling.  Center should jiggle ever so slightly.  If center is too jiggly, place back in pressure cook and cook for another 10 minutes, with a 15 minute natural release.  Allow to cool, then place in fridge.

Top with whipped cream, caramel ice cream topping, or other toppings of your choice.  It is also excellent topped with hot apple pie filling and whipped cream.

For more information contact Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences educator in Weber County at Teresa.hunsaker@usu.edu


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