IN THE KITCHEN with Fareway: All things pumpkin

Whitney Hemmer showed us what she means Tuesday, October 6th.

ANKENY, Iowa — Did you countdown to the pumpkin spice latte this year? It turns out those pumpkin-y goodies that we break into every year come with more than just bold flavors – they also pack some big health benefits.

Pure canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) is a powerhouse of nutrients – helping out almost your entire body. The bright orange color of pumpkin gives away one of its most notable nutrients: beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in our bodies, which helps maintain healthy vision, especially in dim light. As a bonus, vitamin A also helps maintain youthful skin.

At just 50 calories per serving, pumpkin fits into any weight loss or weight maintenance plan. From breakfast to dinner, pure pumpkin can be thrown in almost any dish to add bulk to your plate without adding bulk to your waist. Think beyond pie and try adding pure pumpkin to pasta sauce, yogurt, smoothies or oatmeal.

One way to help balance out a high sodium diet is to eat more foods containing potassium (the average American eats twice the recommended amount of sodium each day). As a rich source of potassium, pumpkin can help balance electrolytes for healthy blood pressure and also refuel electrolytes endurance athletes lose when they sweat.

If you got some extra time, you can make your own pumpkin puree using fresh pumpkin. The directions are similar to roasting a large squash: cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and fibers (feel free to keep the seeds and roast them separately). Place the halves flesh side down on a baking sheet and roast at 400⁰F for at least 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your pumpkin (you should be able to easily pierce it with a fork). Remove from the oven, let it cool, and then remove the flesh with a spoon. If you want an extra smooth puree, toss it in a blender or food processer and voila! Store it in the fridge for one week or in the freezer for up to three months.

2 pounds ground turkey breast

1 (15 ounce) can white northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chilies

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

HEAT a sauté pan over high heat and SPRAY with nonstick cooking spray. ADD turkey and COOK through, about 5 minutes. ADD to slow cooker. ADD oil to pan, and ADD onions and garlic. SAUTE for 3 to 4 minute. ADD cumin and SAUTE for 1 additional minute; ADD to slow cooker. ADD beans, pumpkin puree, chiles, broth, chili powder, oregano and bay leaves to slow cooker. COVER and COOK on high for 4 hours

or low for 8 hours. BEFORE serving, REMOVE bay leaves and ADD salt and pepper, to taste. GARNISH with cilantro.

Nutrition information per serving: 265 calories; 10 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 84 mg cholesterol; 266 mg sodium; 19 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 26 g protein

Crustless Mini Pumpkin Pies

2/3 cup white whole wheat flour

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree

3/4 cup fat free half and half

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners and lightly mist the inside of the liners with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice and whisk or stir together to combine. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half and stir or whisk together until thoroughly combined. Add the dry ingredients and continue to whisk together until smooth and combined. Fill the muffin liners evenly with the batter and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan and then transfer to the refrigerator to chill. The pies will deflate a bit as they cool. Serve chilled with a spray of whipped cream on each mini pie.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

Combine milk, pumpkin, and eggs in a separate bowl.

Combine dry and wet ingredients until well incorporated.

Drop into a hot skillet ¼ cup at a time until golden brown.

If you have buttermilk on hand, this can be used in place of milk for an extra boost of flavor in your pancakes!

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine first 5 ingredients (milk through pumpkin pie spice) in a small sauce pan.

Simmer until well combined.

Divide coffee between two mugs and top with equal parts milk mixture.

Top with whipped cream and caramel sauce, if desired. 

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