It’s pumpkin spice latte season and pumpkins are popping up everywhere. There are so many varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes of these gourds to choose from and they’re showing up at your local grocer, farmer friends, and perhaps even in your own garden!
Beyond decorating your porch with whole or carved pumpkins, plenty of pumpkiny delight awaits you in your very own kitchen.
Pumpkins are Paleo, rich in fiber, filling, and delicious. Pumpkin dishes are a true autumn treat, and not to be missed during their peak season. Their smooth and golden flesh is great for baking, roasting, and stuffing, and is versatile for both sweet and savory dishes.
7 Nutrients in Pumpkins
Every part of the pumpkin is edible, and yes—that includes the stem, pulp, and even blooms. They’re a member of the gourd family and have been highly underutilized as the superfood that they are.
Pumpkins are technically a fruit that ends up being used as a vegetable, much like the avocado, tomato, and cucumber.
Pumpkins are nutritionally dense and are rich in the following vitamins, minerals, and more: (1)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 Fats
13 Amazing Ways to Prepare & Eat Pumpkins
Instead of being limited to pies only, try these creative ways to use pumpkin in your meal plan without wasting a single scrap!
1. Pumpkin Puree
The most famous of pumpkin preparations is of course the pumpkin pie! Canned pumpkin is everywhere this time of year, but if you really want to become a pumpkin pro, try your hand at preparing your very own pumpkin filling.
Create a pumpkin puree from the flesh of any cooking pumpkin, as opposed to the larger, stringy, carving pumpkins. Pick smooth, smaller, heavier pumpkins for optimal flavor, then doctor up the puree as you see fit.
To make a pumpkin puree, halve your pumpkin. Scoop seeds and pulp out and steam or roast until fork tender. Scoop out flesh and whisk. This is a basic thick and creamy pumpkin puree ready for your very own pumpkin pie.
2. Pumpkin Sauce
You can transform any pumpkin puree into a warming pumpkin sauce. Add to a stock pot over medium heat, and whisk in cashew or coconut cream, sage, cinnamon, sea salt, and lemon juice. Simmer for 30 minutes and drizzle over your favorite Paleo-friendly noodles. Zucchini noodles or “zoodles” pair nicely with this autumnal sauce.
3. Pumpkin Egg Replacer
Use pure pumpkin puree to bind, add flavor to, moisten, and even replace eggs in any sweet Paleo bread recipe. To replace one egg, swap it for ¼ cup pumpkin puree. This also works for pancakes, waffles, and muffins! Plus, you can make delicious Paleo pumpkin bread or pumpkin muffins.
4. Pumpkin Rind
Just because the pumpkin rind is edible, does not always mean that it is palatable. To eat the rind, pick pumpkins that are smooth, unblemished, and thinner. Peel or tear the pumpkin skin into chip-sized pieces, spread on a baking sheet, and bake at the lowest temperature with the door partially open. They’re ready to eat when they look like chips, and can range in texture from chewy (like dehydrated fruit) to crispy.
5. Pumpkin Bowls
For a festive way to enjoy autumnal dishes, use the shell of the pumpkin for a serving bowl.
Prep a clean pumpkin and cut in half. Scoop out seeds and pulp, and season the inside with compatible spices for the dish you’re serving. Try cinnamon, maple syrup, sea salt, or even grass-fed butter.
Place the cut side down of your pumpkin bowl on a parchment lined tray. Coat in avocado oil and roast at 350ºF until just tender. Don’t over roast or your pumpkin bowl will lose its shape. Trim the bottom as needed so they sit flat.
6. Roasted Pumpkin
Just as you would roast your pumpkin bowl, skin and all, try slicing the halves into thin half moons or rings. Coat the slices in avocado oil or grass-fed butter and sprinkle with sea salt, cumin, chili, cinnamon, and honey. Place cut sides down and roast at 400ºF for 30 to 40 minutes or until pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork. Because the skins are tender, colorful, and edible, skipping the peeling and eating them makes this dish both simple and nutritious.
7. Pumpkin Seeds
When you have pumpkin coming out your ears from all the carving, you need to know what to do with all those seeds! Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these nutritious little snackers develop a great toasty flavor when roasted. Whatever you do, don’t throw them out!
After you’ve cleaned all the pulp from your seeds, rinse them and lay flat to dry. Prep a seasoning blend which can range from sweet to spicy to savory. Try pumpkin pie spice with coconut sugar or cumin, chili, and garlic for a zesty snack. Toss them with your spice combo and a Paleo-friendly roasting oil, like coconut or avocado, and stir well.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF and lay the seeds out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes or until toasted and crunchy. Store in a glass jar with a lid.
8. Pumpkin Dressing
If you want to take your roasted pumpkin seeds one step further, puree them into your favorite salad dressing for a mineral boost. They pair well with dressing flavors like balsamic, honey, avocado, and even citrus.
9. Pumpkin Pesto
Blend roasted pumpkin seeds with your favorite herbs, dark leafy greens, oil, and garlic and enjoy as a pesto on chicken, pork, eggs—and anything else you can dream of. For an ultra pumpkin dish delight, make pumpkin noodles, savory pumpkin sauce, and top with a little pumpkin seed pesto!
10. Pumpkin Blossoms
Edible florals can elevate a meal at home into a glamorous dinner party. A bundle of edible blooms can be the prettiest appetizer to offer at holiday parties, and there are lots of ways to prepare them and eat them.
Pumpkin blossoms work well when stuffed. Prepare cashew cheese and gently spoon into the inside of the blossom. Twist the petals to contain the filling and refrigerate until serving. These stuffed pumpkin blossoms make a simple, rich, and tasty appetizer.
You can also fry your pumpkin blossoms. After stuffing and chilling, make an egg dredge and a flour dredge, using your preferred Paleo baking flour. Dip the stuffed blossom into flour, then egg, and then flour again. Fry quickly in a skillet with Paleo-friendly oil, like avocado or coconut, for about two minutes each side or until golden brown. Place fried blossom on paper towels, add a bit of sea salt, and then allow cool before popping into your mouth as an addictively simple appetizer.
11. Pumpkin Stems
Often no more than a handle, the pumpkin stem is overlooked! While it may not seem obvious, there’s a way to make this hunky part of a gourd worthy of eating.
Clean your gourd stem very well and blanch. Let cool. Using a mandolin, slice the stem into paper thin pieces. Saute for several minutes with your favorite seasonings and add to stir-fry dishes, soups, and other Paleo noodle dishes.
You can also make chips out of the pumpkin stems. Apply the same method of cleaning, blanching, and slicing. After the slices have dried, flash fry in coconut oil and add sea salt. You can mix this in with your favorite homemade root chips, like sweet potatoes, beets, or parsnips.
12. Pumpkin Stock, Soup, & Broth
Pumpkin’s benefits extend well beyond pies and seeds. Not only can you make delicious pumpkin soup, but you can also use the pumpkin pulp to infuse your stocks and bone broths with some extra pumpkiny flavor. It pairs nicely with onions, garlic, carrots, and celery, along with the apple cider vinegar that you’ll need to extract nutrients from the bones.
13. Pumpkin Leaves
There is always room for more dark and leafy greens on the market. Pumpkin leaves have a unique shape and are rather tender, making a great addition to your salad.
You can also saute your pumpkin leaves. Add them to a saute pan with a cooking as and saute in the same manner that you would spinach.
Pumpkin dumplings are another way to use the leaves. Blanch the larger pumpkin leaves and then lay flat to dry. Add your favorite filling to the center (the filling for this stuffed tomato recipe would work perfectly!), and then fold the leaves over by twisting until it is fully closed. Secure your dumpling by tying it off with a long chive stem. Bake or roast at 400ºF until tender.
Pumpkins are more versatile than they let on, and along with the variety, health benefits, and tasty dishes that can be created, you can also have fun making these crafty Paleo pumpkin meals with your family.