NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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It's Pumpkin Time

“It’s Pumpkin Time”


By, Sara Laite, RD, LRD

Extension Agent


We finally made it to a local pumpkin patch and my kids are now the proud owners of their own pumpkins and gourds.  They absolutely love picking out their pumpkins each year so dad can help them carve their Halloween creations.  I, for one, look forward to roasting the seeds, and freezing a few pumpkins to enjoy in recipes throughout the winter.  Either way, it’s important to remember that pumpkins aren’t just for decorations, they really are nutritious!


Pumpkin is low in calories and a great source of vitamin A and potassium.  One-half cup of mashed pumpkin has 24 calories, 0 g fat, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, and 1 g fiber.  Just ¼ cup of pumpkin provides more than 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A, an important nutrient for eye and skin health. 


Do you have way too many pumpkin and can’t get to them right away?  Store pumpkin in a cool, dry place. Do not wash before storing because that can shorten its storage life. When stored correctly, it can last several months.


To bake a pumpkin, rinse with running water and scrub with a vegetable brush if needed. Poke holes in the skin with a knife.  Place it in a baking pan and bake at 350 F until tender. Bake small pumpkin for about 45 minutes or large pumpkin for about 90 minutes.  Remove the skin and seeds, then mash, season as desired and serve.


To microwave pumpkin, rinse and cut it into chunks. Place in a microwave-safe container and cook on high for about seven minutes until tender. Note: Raw pumpkin are very hard; be cautious when cutting it to avoid injuring yourself.


Freezing is the easiest way to preserve pumpkins.  Wash, and bake or microwave as instructed above until soft.  Remove the pulp and mash.  Package cooked pumpkin in recipe-sized amounts in freezer containers or bags labeled with the contents and date. 


Chunks of pumpkin may be canned in a pressure canner, but for safety reasons, you should not can mashed pumpkin.  Follow the current pressure-canning procedures for canning pumpkin in the NDSU Extension publication, “Home Canning Low-acid Vegetables” (FN173).


Don’t throw the pumpkin seeds.  They’re rich in fiber and make a great snack!  After removing the pulp, wash off the seeds and blot them with a paper towel.  Toss them with a little olive or vegetable oil, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees until light brown (40-50 minutes), stirring about every 5-10 minutes.  Add seasonings of choice. 


These pumpkin muffins were made and enjoyed by a few groups of children in one of my summer cooking classes.  Yes, kids will eat these!


Whole Wheat Mini Pumpkin Muffins

1 ¾ c. whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

2 large eggs, room temperature

½ c. brown sugar

1 c. pumpkin puree

1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 c. milk

½ c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin tins; set aside. In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice together; set aside. In another bowl, whisk eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin, melted butter, vanilla and milk together until combined. Fold in mini chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups ¾ full. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes 36 muffins. Each muffin has 60 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 90 mg sodium.


For more information on this and other nutrition related items, contact the Ramsey County Extension Office at 701-662-7027.  Website: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ramseycountyextension.  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NDSUExtRamsey/.


(Sara Laite is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Education Agent for the NDSU Extension in Ramsey County.)


Source: NDSU Extension, Field to Fork: Pumpkins!, 2016


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