5 Top Healthy Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

By Linda LaRue, RN MEd ATC

As the leaves change color and the air turns crisp, the arrival of fall brings with it an abundance of seasonal flavors. Among them, pumpkin reigns supreme as the quintessential autumn ingredient. While pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pie might be the first things that come to mind, there are plenty of healthier ways to enjoy this nutritious and delicious gourd. These five, top healthy pumpkin recipes that will not only satisfy your taste buds, but also nourish your body during the fall season—and keep you warm inside while you’re watching your waistline.

Pumpkin can be frozen quite well, and when properly prepared and stored, it can last for several months in the freezer. Here's how to freeze pumpkin effectively:

Nutritional Content of Pumpkin (1 cup, cooked, mashed) 

Calories: 49

Carbohydrates: 12 grams

Fiber: 2.7 grams

Protein: 2 grams

Fat: 0.2 grams

Vitamin A: 245% of the Daily Value (DV)

Vitamin C: 19% of the DV

Vitamin E: 9% of the DV

Potassium: 12% of the DV

Folate: 4% of the DV

Iron: 5% of the DV

Magnesium: 4% of the DV

Health Benefits of Pumpkin 

Rich in Vitamin A: Pumpkin is a vitamin A powerhouse, providing over 200% of your daily needs in just one cup. Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, immune function, and skin health.

High in Fiber: Pumpkin is a good source of dietary fiber, which supports digestive health, helps control blood sugar levels, and promotes a feeling of fullness.

Vitamin C Boost: It also contains a decent amount of vitamin C, which is crucial for immune system support and skin health.

Low in Calories: Pumpkin is low in calories, making it a great option for those looking to manage their weight.

Rich in Antioxidants: It contains various antioxidants, including beta-carotene, which may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases and promote overall health.

Potassium for Heart Health: Pumpkin contains potassium, which supports heart health by helping regulate blood pressure.

Versatile Ingredient: Pumpkin is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, making it easy to incorporate into your diet.

Including pumpkin in your fall recipes not only adds a delicious, seasonal flavor but also provides a range of health benefits. Whether you enjoy it in a soup, salad, smoothie, or stuffed pasta, you'll be adding a nutritious element to your meals.

Selecting, Cooking, Storing and Using Instructions 

How to choose. Choose ripe, firm pumpkins with no signs of rot or damage.

Wash the pumpkin thoroughly.

Cut the pumpkin in half or into manageable pieces for easier handling.

Cooking. There are a few methods to cook pumpkin before freezing:

Boiling. Place the pumpkin pieces in a large pot of boiling water and cook until they become soft (about 15-20 minutes). Drain and let them cool.

  1. Roasting: Place the pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little oil, and roast at 375°F (190°C) for about 45 minutes or until tender. Let them cool.

Steaming: Steam the pumpkin pieces until they are soft, which usually takes around 20-30 minutes. Allow them to cool.

Puree or Leave as Pieces: You can either puree the cooked pumpkin in a food processor or leave it in pieces, depending on your preference and how you plan to use it later.

Portion and Freeze: If you're freezing pumpkin puree, portion it into freezer-safe containers or plastic bags, leaving some space for expansion. Squeeze out excess air from the bags before sealing.

If you're freezing pumpkin pieces, arrange them on a baking sheet and freeze them individually before transferring them to a container or bag. This prevents them from sticking together. 

Label and Date: Label each container or bag with the date and the contents (puree or pumpkin pieces). This helps you keep track of how long it's been in the freezer.

Freeze: Place the containers or bags in the freezer. Be sure to store them in the coldest part of the freezer.Storage Duration: Frozen pumpkin puree can be stored for up to 3-6 months.

Frozen pumpkin pieces can be stored for a similar duration, typically around 3-6 months as well.

 Thaw and Use: To use frozen pumpkin, thaw it in the refrigerator or by submerging the container or bag in cold water. Use it in your recipes as you would fresh pumpkin.

Properly freezing pumpkin can help you extend its shelf life and enjoy its delicious flavor and nutritional benefits throughout the year.

Health Pumpkin Recipes 

Pumpkin and Spinach Stuffed Shells


12 jumbo pasta shells

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 cups fresh spinach, chopped

1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup marinara sauce 


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin puree, chopped spinach, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  4. Stuff each pasta shell with the pumpkin and spinach mixture.
  5. Place the stuffed shells in a baking dish and cover with marinara sauce.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the shells are heated through and the sauce is bubbling.

Serving Size: 3 pasta shells. Calories per serving: 350. Servings: 4

Pumpkin and Chickpea Curry


2 cups diced pumpkin

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

1 can (14 oz) coconut milk (light or full-fat)

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh cilantro for garnish 


  1. In a large skillet, sauté the chopped onion and garlic until translucent.
  2. Add the diced pumpkin and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Stir in the curry powder and ground cumin.
  4. Pour in the diced tomatoes and coconut milk, and add the chickpeas.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the pumpkin is tender and the flavors meld together.
  6. Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Serving Size: 1 ½ cups. Calories per serving: 300. Servings: 4 

Pumpkin and Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie


1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 banana

1 cup almond milk (or your choice of milk)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional)

Ice cubes (optional)



  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add ice cubes for a colder texture if desired.
  4. Pour into a glass and enjoy this nutritious pumpkin-packed breakfast smoothie.

Serving size: 1 ½ cup. Calories per serving: 250. Servings: 2 (you can easily double) 

Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad 


1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup diced pumpkin, roasted

1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked or canned

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste 


  1. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, roasted pumpkin, chickpeas, parsley, cranberries, and pecans.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
  4. Serve chilled as a healthy and satisfying fall salad. 

Serving size: 1 cup. Calories: 700. Servings: 4 (you can easily double) 

Pumpkin and Lentil Soup


1 cup red lentils

2 cups diced pumpkin

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

6 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Greek yogurt or coconut milk for garnish (optional)


  1. In a large pot, sauté the chopped onion and garlic until soft.
  2. Add the ground cumin and coriander and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the diced pumpkin, red lentils, and vegetable broth.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils and pumpkin are tender.
  5. Use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the soup until smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of Greek yogurt or a drizzle of coconut milk if desired.

Serving size: 1 cup. Calories: 180. Servings: 6 (you can easily double and freeze) 

Pumpkin isn't just for pies and lattes. These five healthy pumpkin recipes showcase the versatility of this fall favorite while providing a dose of essential nutrients. Whether you're in the mood for a savory dinner, a hearty salad, or a nutritious breakfast, there's a pumpkin recipe for every occasion. Embrace the flavors of autumn and nourish your body with these delicious and wholesome dishes.

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