The Power of Pumpkin


Pumpkin is a close cousin of the squash and can vary in size from a few ounces to a few hundred pounds. While we think of it as a vegetable, it is scientifically a fruit as it contains seeds. Some varieties are better for baking than others. If you’re buying directly from a farmer, which many do in the late fall, ask which type is better for carving jack-o’-lanterns and which is better for baking.

Once again, fresh is superior in flavor to anything canned. But if time is short, there are many good organic canned pumpkin purees today on the market. I love the Farmers Market, Pacific Foods, Trader Joe’s or 365 Everyday Value brands and now even Libby’s brand makes an organic variety.

Always check the labels if you decide to purchase canned as there are often great recipes on them and to confirm you are buying 100% pumpkin puree often found in the 15 ounce can not the pumpkin pie mix which is in the larger can. Pumpkin pie mix is not 100% pumpkin puree and contains added sugars, syrups and spices.

Whether you decide to buy fresh or canned, its always fun to try making pumpkin pies at least once from fresh pumpkin. Pumpkins will keep for several weeks in a cool, dark location.


Some fun pumpkin facts:

  • Pumpkin is a highly nutrient-dense food and is rich in both vitamins and minerals but low in calories. Pumpkin is 94% water.


  • Pumpkin is more than just pie filling and can be incorporated into deserts, soups, salads, and even makes a great butter.


  • Pumpkin seeds, leaves, and juices are also great nutritional pumpkin options.


  • Pumpkin puree can be used in baking recipes for a replacement for butter or oil.


  • You can store uncut pumpkin for up to 2 months in a cool dark place.


  • Pumpkin contains potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, iron, lutein, zeaxanthin and a wealth of other antioxidants, and is one of the best sources of beta-carotene.


  • Pumpkin is a great source of fiber.


  • Pumpkin retains many of its health benefits in the canning process.


  • Pumpkin is a great addition to a recovery diet.


  • Pumpkin spice lattes often do not contain any pumpkin and is full of sugar and calories (sorry as I know this is not a fun fact).



Fun ways to incorporate more pumpkin in your diet:

  • Mix pumpkin puree with plain or vanilla greek yogurt and add pumpkin pie spices, you will have a healthy pumpkin pie minus the crust!


  • Pumpkin pancakes. pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bars, and pumpkin cheesecake but please look for the healthier recipes or products.


  • Pumpkin sauce for pasta (see recipe below), pumpkin soup, and roasted pumpkin wedges.


  • Roasted pumpkin seeds make a great carry snack.


I hope I have motivated you to try to add more pumpkin into your recovery diet. If so, let me know on social media which ways you love to add pumpkin to your diet.

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, CHC



This is a great recipe to celebrate National Pumpkin Day or any other day of the week. Enjoy!:


Pumpkin Pasta Sauce


This pumpkin pasta sauce is a great way to celebrate pumpkin any day of the year but makes a great fall comfort food. Pumpkin is a nutrient-dense food full of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants. It can be served over any pasta of your choice.

Makes 4 cups sauce: Serves 4


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt, divided

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 can (15 ounces) diced or crushed tomatoes

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée

2 tablespoons butter (or substitute with olive oil)

1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Finely grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s shimmering, add the oregano and cinnamon. While stirring, cook until fragrant and then add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, while stirring. Add the pumpkin purée and stir to combine. Continue simmering on low for 15 minutes, stirring often and then remove it from the heat.
  2. Carefully transfer the mixture to your blender. Add the butter (or olive oil) and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Blend until very smooth and creamy.
  3. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. For an even smoother sauce, you can add an additional tablespoon of butter, or for a more tangy taste, add another teaspoon of vinegar. Blend to combine.
  4. Serve over warm pasta of your choice. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese (or vegan cheese substitute) and add chopped parsley for garnish if you wish.



Can be made Dairy Free/Vegan: Just omit butter and substitute olive oil. Instead of parmesan cheese, omit or substitute vegan parmesan cheese. (Go Veggie or Angel Food brands are great).

Gluten Free: The pumpkin pastas sauce is gluten free. Just serve over a gluten free pasta of your choice such as brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, corn pasta, or even spaghetti squash.

Variations: If you want to make a more classic italian version try adding 1 yellow onion, chopped and 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced to step one.


From: Food For Recovery 4th Edition: The Complete Nutritional Companion for Recovering from Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, and Eating Disorders

Copyright © 2018 by Mary P. Cheney, CHC, Joseph D. Beasley, M.D. and Susan Knightly 




Published by


Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Blogger, Author, Speaker, Activist, Nana, Mom, Wife, Daughter & Foodie.

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