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Not all pumpkin recipes involve pie

Fall fruit offers healthier option in baking and cooking

POSTED: October 9, 2013 1:00 a.m.

The recipe for pumpkin chocolate muffins uses a half-can of diet soda, making the dessert sugar-free. No eggs are used either, eliminating cholesterol from the pastry dish. Plus, the pumpkin ingredient distinguishes it as an autumn treat.

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Pumpkins are everywhere. As October begins, one cannot help but see signs of pumpkin season surrounding them.

Beyond the popular pumpkin latte and traditional pumpkin pie, the many uses of the squash-style fruit are sighted at every corner’s pumpkin patch. Many require an oven, but not all of them. Some cooks use pumpkins for soup, while others prefer to bake a pumpkin bread.

The bakery at Jaemor Farms has gained popularity each year with their pumpkin bread, which is always baked and sold fresh. Produced from a simple recipe, those who want to try their hand at baking a pumpkin treat can try to make this farm favorite at home.

For the more complex and experienced baker, Jaemor Farms makes pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling. Pumpkin cake with raisins and pecans is another option for creative autumn baking.

Although these are traditional sweet treats, a few diet-friendly pumpkin recipes are out there as well. In fact, some can even help you lose weight.

“They’re actually really great and healthy recipes, and I learned about them while doing Weight Watchers,” said Merry Howard, manager of Gainesville Hall County Senior Life Center.

She contributed “Easy Pumpkin Breakfast Muffins” to the senior center’s “Favorite Recipes” cookbook commemorating its 40th anniversary last month. She said pumpkin is a good go-between for those who want sweets, but also want healthier ingredients.

“It just helps you curb your sweet tooth, and you get your vegetables in,” she said.

One recipe Merry Howard recommends is pumpkin fluff, a mixture of fat-free Cool Whip, pumpkin, vanilla pudding mix and pumpkin spice. Howard explained no mixer or oven is required for the low-calorie treat.

“You throw it all in there together, and you whirl it up,” she said.

Howard also makes a chocolate pumpkin muffin recipe, for baking without all the oil and fat that goes with it. Although the only liquid used is diet soda, Howard said these are often mistaken for a regular, sugar-filled treat, without the actual sugar.

“They have a cupcake consistency,” she said. “You don’t use oil or eggs or anything like that, so they’re pretty much cholesterol-free, oil free. It’s just pumpkin and cake mix and a diet soda.”

Howard also mentioned she has discovered recipes for soups with a pumpkin base make for a healthy lunch option as well.

“People don’t really think of pumpkin necessarily as a vegetable that’s a hearty vegetable and a healthy vegetable,” she said.

For those who want to stick with the normal baked, spiced pies that go along with fall, Howard said pumpkin is always the best choice for a main ingredient.

“A lot of people like to do sweet potato (in pies) instead of pumpkin, but pumpkin is really rich in vitamins and fiber,” she said. “So I think it’s always really good to use.”

More low-calorie, low-fat pumpkin recipes can be found at


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