Fall is definitely in the air! Which means sweaters, apple picking—and pumpkins! And the bright orange goodies taste great in more than just lattes and pies—they are perfect for your savory dishes, too. Pumpkins and other fall squash are low in calories, and packed with fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, making them a healthy addition to your diet.
I love including squash in as many meals as I can. When there’s time, I will chop one up and roast it at home. That way, I have my choice creamy squash, or large solid pieces. Otherwise, the pureed kind in a can works, too. Here are 6 of my favorite ways to prepare pumpkin and squash.
1. Paired with pasta One of the most classic fall pairings is squash with pasta. From butternut squash ravioli to pumpkin fettuccini, these two ingredients (with a little help from their pal cheese) are the perfect combo. Unfortunately for me, while incredibly delicious, pasta with squash is more of an indulgent treat. To make it a little healthier, I like to reduce the amount of calories in these notoriously filling dishes by using tofu instead of cheese, like in my recipe for Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells (see nutrition info below).
2. In a simple salad An even healthier way to enjoy squash is in salad, and it’s pretty hard to go wrong when adding cooked pumpkin. For a simple salad, try mixing together chunks of roasted squash or pumpkin with cranberries and balsamic dressing, and then top it with toasted pecans or pumpkin seeds for some crunch. You can even add chicken, shrimp, goat cheese, quinoa, depending on your taste!
3. Mixed into risotto Squashes can also help make a dish creamier without using butter, cheese, or dairy. Adding squash to risotto is a perfect example! In my Kabocha Squash Risotto (see nutrition info below), I rely on squash—and a little bit of cheese, because, yum!—to make the traditionally heavy dish lower in calories and higher in vitamins.
4. As a sweet side Everyone immediately thinks of pumpkin breads and other desserts in the fall. But squash makes a great side dish as well. I love making Butternut Squash with Apple Pecan Stuffing (see nutrition info below). The maple and cinnamon flavors pair perfectly with the squash, and the stuffing adds some texture. (For an even lighter version of this dish, just add the apples—you’ll still get plenty of crunch, but with fewer calories.)
5. Blended! If you are looking for dessert alternatives, try blending pumpkin with coconut whipped cream—or even avocado—for a rich, pudding-like treat that’s nutritionally dense. Or, add roasted pumpkin to a fruit smoothie to kick up the vitamins and fiber.
6. As a savory main dish When chilly weather kicks in, I like to cozy up with a hearty, hot meal. Pumpkin and squash are terrific in soups, curries, and stews! I love making a big batch of this Pumpkin Lentil Curry, and then bringing the leftovers with me to the office the next day. It’s one of those dishes that gets better on the second and third day—the flavors meld together, making the tastes richer!
Pumpkin Lentil Curry
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 3 tablespoons Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1 tablespoon Ginger Root, finely chopped
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper
- 1 can Tomato Paste
- 1 can Pumpkin
- 1 can Kidney Beans
- 1 can Lentils
- 1 can Light Coconut Milk
Heat coconut oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook all spices in oil until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add tomato paste, pumpkin, kidney beans (rinsed and drained), and lentils.
Turn up heat to medium and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add cream and cook until heated through, about 2 to 4 minutes.
Cover saucepan and reduce heat to a simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm, over rice or quinoa.
Serves: 6 | Serving Size: about 1 cup
Per serving: Calories: 252; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 833mg; Carbohydrate: 35g; Dietary Fiber: 12g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 10g
Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 645 mg; Vitamin A: 184%; Vitamin C: 8%; Calcium: 8%; Iron: 40%
My other squash favorites:
Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 340; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 478mg; Total Carbohydrate: 54g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugars: 7g; Protein 12g
Kabocha Squash Risotto
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 259; Total Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 2596mg; Total Carbohydrate: 53g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugars: 3g; Protein 4g
Butternut Squash with Apple Pecan Stuffing
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 270; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 530mg; Total Carbohydrate: 58g; Dietary Fiber: 7g; Sugars: 33g; Protein 6g
What are some of your favorite squash recipes? Share in the comments below!