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Perfectly Pumpkin!

Take full advantage of this fall favorite with recipes for pies, purees, stews and more

Pumpkin in field, close-up

— Aura/Getty Images

Big overflowing bins of orange gourds at farm stands and in grocery stores are the first sign that autumn is in full swing. Pumpkins — kissing cousins to squash — come in all shapes and sizes, but the best for cooking are the “sugar” or “pie pumpkin” varieties that weigh in around 7 pounds. (Big ones tend to be watery and bland, so leave those for carving jack-o’-lanterns!)

Seize the seasonal opportunity to enjoy this healthful food. Pumpkins are low in fat and calories and high in vitamins and dietary fiber. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides two to three times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A. To keep the cholesterol down when baking with pumpkin, try replacing eggs with a cholesterol-free substitute or reducing the number or size of eggs you use.

Picking Pumpkins

Look for pumpkins with the stem intact and no bruises or cuts. Pumpkins will keep at room temperature for a month and up to three months in the refrigerator.

Peeling Pumpkins

To peel pumpkins and other hard-skinned squash, cut in half and scoop out seeds and any stringy fibers. Cut the pumpkin into 2- or 3-inch slices and place cut side down on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, carefully remove the skin.

If you can’t find pumpkins for recipes you want to try, substitute with butternut, Hubbard and other winter squash varieties for good results. Like all things homemade, making pumpkin puree from scratch is delicious, but canned, solid-packed pumpkin is good, convenient and available year round.

So whether your pumpkin comes from the can, farm stand or your own backyard pumpkin patch, try some of these delicious recipes for your holiday season.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie
Add this rich and silky pie to your holiday menu.

Pumpkin, Potato and Leek Soup
This soup features a trio of comforting winter vegetables that will warm you up on a chilly day.

Puree of Pumpkin Soup
Serve this savory soup in a carved out pumpkin shell for a festive occasion.

Mediterranean Chicken Stew With Prunes and Pumpkin
Great over steamed rice or couscous. Delicious the next day, too.

Pumpkin Tabouleh With Pumpkin Butter Vinaigrette
A healthy side dish with fall flair.

Gratin of Pumpkin
Try this new version of a classic side dish instead of scalloped potatoes.

Apple Streusel Pumpkin Muffins
This little portable sweet is delicious any time of day.

Easy as Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Don’t evict your ice cream maker now that the weather is cool. Try this simple one-step ice cream to top your holiday cakes and pies.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Next time you are carving a jack-o’-lantern, save the seeds for a tasty treat.

Pumpkin Spice Bars
The whole house will smell like the start of the holiday season!

Pumpkin Nutrition Data

Here are the nutritional facts for one cup of pumpkin puree:

Calories: 80

Carbohydrates: 19 grams

Cholesterol: 0

Fat: less than 1 gram

Potassium: 588 milligrams

Protein: 2.4 grams

Vitamin A: 310 percent of RDA

Vitamin C: 20 percent of RDA

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