Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pumpkin Season!

Pumpkin is everywhere this time of year!  From the coffee shop to the cereal aisle to front porch decorations.  But most of it is just a sugary gimmick or expensive trick.  However, pure pumpkin – a fruit – is a nutritional powerhouse!  I love canned pumpkin – it is super easy to use and has no added ingredients (don’t mistake it for pumpkin pie filling).  Inevitably, no matter what recipe you make with canned pumpkin, you will end up with a little leftover.  In the fall and winter months, many groceries will offer a sale on canned pumpkin.  So, I buy it in bulk.  I portion the pumpkin into a muffin tin – each muffin well is a half-cup portion.  I put the tin in the freezer for a few hours then twist out the frozen pumpkin.  I individually wrap each block of frozen pumpkin and stash away in a freezer bag for future use.  Just pull them out as you need them for recipes. 

It just happens that I have a perfect recipe for that pumpkin!  I am very happy to share my out-of-the-box (or can) pumpkin recipe.  This is delicious, nutritious, and super affordable!  And stick around for a few of my tips along the way! 

Pumpkin Penne
4 cups dry whole wheat penne rigate
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
¾ cup chopped onion
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup plain Greek yogurt (room temp)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp each salt and black pepper
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 to 6 sprigs fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips
6 oz garlic & herb smoked chicken sausage, cut into coins (optional)
Reserved pasta water, if needed
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes less than package instructions.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining pasta.
While pasta is boiling, add the EVOO, onion, and garlic to a large skillet and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken stock, pumpkin, yogurt*, and vinegar. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg**.  Lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sage*** and sausage.  Add the pasta into the sauce and toss over low heat for 1 minute.  If needed, add some of the reserved pasta water to get the desired consistency.  Garnish the pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese****.
Makes 4-6 servings.  Keep leftovers in fridge for up to five days, or freeze individual portions for easy re-heat meals. 
Not only is canned pumpkin affordable, it is a nutritional powerhouse.  It’s loaded with beta carotene, Vitamin A, antioxidants, and potassium.  It protects your skin and eyes, boosts energy, and can reduce cancer risk.

*The Greek yogurt adds richness and tanginess.  It will not melt completely – it will look similar to ricotta cheese. 
**Freshly grating whole nutmeg makes a world of difference, and it will keep much fresher than pre-grated.  However, if you have ground nutmeg in your pantry, you can definitely use that. 
***Fresh sage leaves are a perfect flavor with the pumpkin and sausage.  If you only have dried sage, use it sparingly – just a pinch or two – as the dried version is much more potent and can overtake the dish. 
****Freshly grated parmesan cheese tastes much better, and it will stay fresher longer.  Just wrap the block of cheese well and store in the freezer.  Pull it out and grate as you need it.

Go to  to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  Obesity is 100% preventable, and it starts this pumpkin season!