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Five Creative Uses For Pumpkins

Pumpkins are good for more than carving (and pies). Nutritionist Stephanie Gailing, M.S., doles out a few tricks for chowing down on this fall fave.

Soup it: Cut a fresh pumpkin into one-inch cubes, then steam them until soft (seven to 10 minutes). Toss cooked cubes into a vegetable soup or any sort of chicken-and-rice or pasta casserole. You can also add them into your favorite stir-fry (just do it in the final minutes of cooking so they don't fall apart).

Smash it: Puree or mash cooked pumpkin cubes into a quick side dish. Add cinnamon or a bit of coconut milk to amp up the sweet potato-like flavor. For a savory alternative, mash pumpkin with regular potatoes, for a side that's higher in fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.

Frap it: Never pay $4.50 for a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino again. Instead, make your own by blending a couple of steamed pumpkin cubes with coffee, milk, ice, and sweetener.

Toast it: Wash and depulp a couple of handfuls of fresh pumpkin seeds, then spread them out on paper towels to dry overnight. The next day, toss them (with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper or your favorite mix of spices) and bake at a low temperature for around 15 minutes, tossing every few minutes until they turn a golden brown. Eat with dried fruit or nuts for a DIY trail mix.

Sauce it: Grind toasted pumpkin seeds with cilantro , parsley, garlic, lemon, a little vinegar, and olive oil in a blender to create homemade, low-cal salad dressing. Pumpkin seed oil is delicious and may help to fight off disease, too.

 

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