Health Plus
September 23, 2016

Fall is upon us which heightens our need for rich, delicious foods and beverages that create feelings of comfort, tradition, and warmth. The key to making healthy food choices through the fall and into the holidays is to find foods that meet our needs for comfort AND nourish our bodies.

This perfect balance can be found in foods made with pumpkin. Pumpkins are naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium making them a healthy option to add to your eating plan. The combined nutrients found in pumpkin provide antioxidant benefits and may help improve eye health, boost immune function, and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Fresh or canned pumpkin are equally good choices, but canned requires much less work.

As you gather with friends and family to carve pumpkins that showcase your personalities and interests, carry the fun and creativity into the kitchen. Branch out from original foods like pumpkin bread and pie and consider the possibilities! Foods with pumpkin can be served warm or cold, made into sweet or savory dishes, and enjoyed morning, noon, and night!

Pumpkin Quesadilla

Yields: 2 servings


  • 2, 8 inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1/3 cup Great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil


  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, chili powder, and cumin. Stir to combine.
  2. Spread pumpkin mixture evenly over one tortilla.
  3. Sprinkle beans and cheese evenly over pumpkin. Top with tortilla.
  4. Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  5. Gently place quesadilla in skillet and brown on both sides.
  6. Cut quesadilla into 6 triangles.
  7. Serve with plain, Greek yogurt or salsa.

Nutrition information per serving (3 triangles):

Calories: 288, Total Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 445 mg, Carbohydrates: 33g, Fiber: 8g, Total Sugar: 2g, Protein: 11g

Source: Melinda Mahoney RDN, LDN, Health Plus

Creamy Pumpkin and Apple Soup

Serves: 4


  • 2 (15-ounce) cans pure pumpkin
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups milk (low-fat, whole or almond would work well) or more
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste (consider other spices such as garlic and nutmeg)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil on stovetop in a heavy-bottomed or nonstick pan. Place onions and sugar in pan and stir to coat.
  3. Toss sliced apples with 1 tablespoon olive oil and bake until just soft, about 15 minutes (using a silicone non-stick sheet can help prevent the apples from sticking).
  4. While the apples are baking, caramelize the onions over low heat until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Set aside a quarter of the caramelized onions for garnish.
  6. In a powerful blender, combine baked apples, caramelized onions and vegetable stock.
  7. Add pumpkin and continue to blend, adding milk in ½ cup increments until the soup is your desired consistency.
  8. Serve warm, garnished with caramelized onions, toasted nuts, or parmesan croutons.

Nutrition information per serving (1/4 recipe):

Calories: 231, Total Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 151mg, Carbohydrates: 36g, Fiber: 6g, Total Sugar: 22g, Added Sugar: 1g, Protein: 7g

Source: Megan Wolf, MS, RD featured in Food and Nutrition Magazine

Pumpkin Bites

Yields: approximately 30 balls


  • 3 cups walnuts (divided)
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 scoop (about 30 grams) vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips


  1. Add 1 ½ cups walnuts, oats, and cranberries to a food processor. Grind into a fine texture. (Depending on the size of your processor, you may need to grind one ingredient at a time).
  2. Dump ground ingredients in a bowl. Add pumpkin, protein powder, and spices. Stir until combined.
  3. Form mixture into balls about the size of a gold ball.
  4. Grind remaining 1 ½ cups walnuts and ¼ cup chocolate chips until coarse. Roll balls in nut and chocolate mixture. Chill 20 minutes before serving.
  5. Refrigerate pumpkin balls in an airtight container or place half the batch in a freezer bag for future use.

Nutrition information per serving (3 balls):

Calories: 333, Total Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 6 mg, Carbohydrates: 30g, Fiber: 5g, Total Sugar: 11g, Added Sugar: 8g, Protein: 9g

Source: Melinda Mahoney RDN, LDN

Inspired by PopSugar

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Yields: 3 servings Ingredients

  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee


  1. In medium saucepan, combine milk, pumpkin, and sugar.
  2. Cook on medium heat, stirring until steaming.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and pumpkin spice. Whisk well.

Nutrition information per serving (serving size: 8 ounces) Calories: 97, Total Fat: 0g, Sodium: 86mg, Carbohydrates: 18g, Fiber: 0g, Added Sugar: 8g, Protein: 5g Source: unknown

Pumpkin Dip

Yields: 8 servings Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fat-free cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, optional
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a mixer, beat all ingredients together until combined.
  2. Serve with gingersnaps, graham crackers, or slices of pear or apple.

Nutrition information per serving (serving size: 1/4 cup)

Calories: 65, Total Fat: 0g, Sodium: 201mg, Carbohydrates: 11g, Fiber: 0g, Total Sugar: 10g, Added Sugar: 8g, Protein: 5g

Source: Tram Le, MS, RD featured in Food & Nutrition Magazine