Get our newsletters

Dining In: Pumpkins put to use as food

If months came in colors, December would be green and red, November would be brown and October would be orange.

Orange decorations are everywhere right now, from the paper ones in stores to the real pumpkins on front porches. That’s thanks to the ubiquitous jack-o-lantern, the most popular symbol of Halloween.
Although we rarely use them for anything besides decorations, fat orange pumpkins are completely edible, low in calories and good sources of vitamin A, vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.

The pumpkin we use when we make pumpkin pies usually comes in a can and is made from a variety of winter squashes. They are chosen because they are best for flavor and texture.

If you want to cook your own pumpkin for pie, go for a cheese pumpkin, Blue Hubbard or even butternut squash. But be aware that the flavor, color and texture will likely be different from when you use canned puree.

When the nights get cooler we start to think about our fall favorites, and pumpkin desserts are among them. The rich spices used to make pumpkin pie are a large part of the attraction, which explains why pumpkin spice lattes are popular in the fall although many contain little or no pumpkin.

Pumpkin isn’t just for pie and lattes. It also is a great ingredient for soup, breads, cakes, cookies, and these pumpkin squares from

Pumpkin and Walnut Squares
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
Sweetened whipped cream, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, sugar and brown sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in walnuts. Reserve 1 cup mixture for topping; press remaining mixture onto bottom and halfway up sides of a 13x9-inch baking dish.

2. In a large bowl, beat remaining ingredients just until smooth. Pour into crust; sprinkle with reserved topping.

3. Bake until golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Refrigerate leftovers.

1 square: 221 calories, 13g fat (6g saturated fat), 41mg cholesterol, 139mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (16g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.