Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin loaf. At this time of year, pumpkin recipes get a lot of attention – most of which comes with refined sugars and sometimes even artificial flavors. There is good news though. Pumpkin is really good for you! Particularly for the health of your heart and the respiratory system. That’s why I’ve taken the time to find some healthy pumpkin recipes that you can use to get more of this seasonal favorite in your diet.
But before we get to these healthy pumpkin recipes, let’s chat about why pumpkin is so good for you.
The Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Pumpkin is a rich source of carotenoid phytonutrients, including beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. You can recognize these phytonutrients from the deep orange and yellow pigments of the pumpkin flesh. These carotenoids make vitamin A in the body which supports healthy vision and skin, plus prevents free radical damage.
Pumpkin also contains a healthy dose of vitamin C for even more antioxidant support.
If you’re trying to manage or lose weight, pumpkin is a great option. It’s about 80 calories per cup, plus it’s rich in fiber to keep you feeling satiated and full after meals. Fiber also helps to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream to prevent blood sugars spikes, and it supports regular bowel movements and health of the lining of the bowel.
Of course if you’re incorporating pumpkin into your diet while trying to control weight, make sure you’re opting for healthy pumpkin recipes and try the more savory meals rather than just the dessert options.
Pumpkin is used in Chinese Medicine to relieve issues of dampness in the lungs including excess mucus and easing symptoms of asthma1. But research also shows that adequate vitamin A intake is important for maintaining healthy lungs.** If that’s not enough to get you making more healthy pumpkin recipes, winter squashes (including pumpkin and butternut squash) also contain a powerful carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin which may reduce your risk of developing lung cancer2.
**There is a controversy about smokers who keep smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer. In that particular subgroup betacarotene as a pill might make them worse. The best idea is to stop smoking and eat pumpkin instead.
Canned Pumpkin vs. Homemade Pumpkin Puree
To make any of these healthy pumpkin recipes, you can use fresh pumpkin puree or canned. Homemade pumpkin puree tends to be a but more flavorful, though it’s also a bit more watery than canned pumpkin which can sometimes affect the texture of your recipe.
If you’re using canned pumpkin, look for the following:
- 100% pure pumpkin (no added ingredients)
- Organic, if possible
- BPA-free lining (BPA is used to line standard cans which can disrupt our hormones. Avoid it as much as possible)
How to make homemade pumpkin puree:
If you want to make your own pumpkin puree, it’s quite simple. You ideally want a small pumpkin, sometimes called a sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
- Slice your pumpkin in half and scrape out all the seeds.
- Place it cut-side down on a baking tray.
- Bake for 1 hour or until tender.
- Scoop out the soft flesh of the pumpkin
- Puree in a food processor or blender.
Once you have your pumpkin puree ready, you can start making a few (or all) of these delicious gluten free pumpkin recipes. Alternatively, you can freeze the puree for future use.
11 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes to Make this Year
Some of these healthy pumpkin recipes are more indulgent and sweet, while others are savory for a cozy dinner in. Bookmark this page or save it on Pinterest to keep these recipes handy.
Ditch the coffee shop’s sugar-packed and artificially flavored pumpkin spiced lattes for a homemade brew. This recipe from Megan at Detoxinista is flavored with real pumpkin, made dairy free and sweetened with just a bit of pure maple syrup. But, if you’re looking for a sugar-free option, you can makes yours with stevia.
All the flavors of fall packed into one delicious pumpkin cookie. This recipe from Regina at leelalicious are great for grabbing on the go, packing for a fall hike, or even just for an occasional treat. Use gluten-free oats to make this recipe gluten free.
This recipe from Erin at Well Plated is a great source of healthy fats from pecans and chia seeds. They’re a packable snack and quick and easy to make.
Sneak some pumpkin into your breakfast with this gluten free vegan-friendly recipe by Michelle at North South Blond. They’re like eating pumpkin pie for breakfast – but healthier!
This hot chocolate from Lee at Veggie Quest is the definition of indulgence without any of the guilt. It’s sweetened with stevia so it won’t spike your blood sugar and it takes less than 5 minutes to make!
Chia seeds are a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. They also provide a good dose of fiber and are rich in calcium and plant-based protein. So of course I had to include this pumpkin pie chia pudding recipe from Candace at The Wheatless Kitchen. It’s lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup, but you could also substitute stevia, or even add a few chopped dates to sweeten it.
This recipe from Ashley at Fit Mitten Kitchen is incredible hearty. It’s perfect for cold fall or winter days where you need to be warmed from the inside out. Chili also makes for a really healthy meal that’s packed with plant based protein and fiber. Feel free to switch up the veggies to what you have on hand if necessary!
Apple and pumpkin are the perfect pairing for this perfectly fall flavored soup. Topped with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds – can it get any better? This recipe comes from Elena at As Easy As Apple Pie and is ready to serve in under an hour!
With recipes like this, there’s not much reason to buy cereal… ever. This granola recipe from Dana at Minimalist Baker is flavorful, crunchy, and easy to make. It’s fall-inspired, but you can easily swap ingredients around to make this recipe work for any season.
Naturally gluten free, dairy free and vegan this recipe from Alia at Everyday Easy Eats is perfect for a rainy day. With the combination of curry, pumpkin and coconut it’s super flavorful and delicious. Plus it only takes 20 minutes to make!
This soup recipe from Liberty at Homespun Capers is a delicious anti-inflammatory option for cold season. It contains turmeric and ginger, two of my favorite superfoods for natural pain relief. This recipe also uses red lentils giving you a healthy boost of plant-based protein.
Chew on this
With all this talk about pumpkin, we can’t forget about the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a health food all of their own. They’re a good source of essential fatty acids and they’re rich in zinc that supports immunity and skin health.
If you’re making your own pumpkin puree, don’t throw away the seeds. Give them a quick rinse in a fine mesh strainer, then toss them with a bit of olive oil, salt and any herbs of your choice. Roast them at 300 degrees F for about 3o minutes or until crisp. Make sure to stir them around and check them throughout to prevent burning.
Which recipes are you excited to try? Let us know in the comments below!