For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
The warm, spicy flavors and smells of pumpkin treats are too good to resist on a crisp fall day. Fortunately, pumpkin is actually a great addition to any athlete’s menu—it’s loaded with fiber, vitamins A and C, and immunity-boosting antioxidants. It also boasts a high potassium content, which helps to replenish lost electrolytes after hard training. Here are 10 creative ways to transform canned pumpkin into flavorful, healthful dishes.
Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
This recipe using Marcona almonds is reminiscent of Romesco, a popular Spanish nut- and red pepper-based sauce, but with a pleasant pumpkin twist.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and sauté 2 diced shallots for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme and ½ teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary, and sauté another minute. Add ½ cup white wine, one 15-ounce can pumpkin, 1 teaspoon each agave and salt, and let cook for 10 minutes. Purée in a blender or food processor, once slightly cooled, with ¾ cup Marcona almonds (a popular Spanish variety). Toss with a pound of your favorite pasta, ravioli or farro.
Start your day off right with hearty pumpkin granola.
In a large bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup pumpkin purée, 1/3 cup real maple syrup, ¼ cup agave, ¼ cup canola oil (or melted coconut oil), 1 tablespoon molasses, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, ½ tablespoon pumpkin pie spice and ½ teaspoon salt. Add to this mixture 2 heaping cups whole rolled oats, 2 cups puffed rice, wheat or millet cereal (unsweetened), ¼ cup uncooked quinoa, 2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, and ½ cup pumpkin seeds. Stir until well combined and spread onto one or two large rimmed baking sheets prepared with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 300 degrees for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure edges and bottom don’t burn. Once cooled, toss in 2/3 cup dried cranberries.
Layer in granola parfaits, slather on pancakes and waffles, or trade the PB&J for pumpkin and almond butter. Jar it and share as a holiday gift!
In a saucepan, bring one 15-ounce can pumpkin, ¼ cup agave, 2 tablespoons real maple syrup, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and ½ tablespoon pumpkin pie spice to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring consistently. Let cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Impress your party guests with this unique hors d’oeuvre: a tray of warm roasted veggies, accompanied by rich pumpkin hummus.
In a blender or food processor, combine one 15-ounce can drained garbanzo beans, 1 cup canned pumpkin, ¼ cup tahini, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, ½ teaspoon paprika, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste. Optional: Sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds over the top for serving.
Pumpkin Substitution in Baked Goods
This is a sneaky baking swap to decrease fat and calories and increase nutrients.
Substitute one 15-ounce can pumpkin for the eggs and oil in any boxed brownie mix, or use the same amount of pumpkin with ½ cup water in any cake mix (try spice cake mix) to make quick and easy pumpkin muffins, cupcakes or bread.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
All the satisfaction of the velvety pumpkin pie flavor you crave without having to bake one.
In a blender combine 1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk, one 15-ounce can pumpkin, 1 banana, 1/4 cup pitted dates, 1 tablespoon agave, 1/2 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon cloves (or replace spices with 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice), and 6 ice cubes. Process until smooth, and top with chopped toasted pecans or walnuts.
After a chilly training session, warm up with a comforting bowlful of bisque.
In a large pot, sauté 1/2 diced yellow onion with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add two 15-ounce cans pumpkin, 4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 cup low-sodium veggie broth, 3 tablespoons real maple syrup, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender (or, once cooled, a regular blender) to purée the soup until smooth.
Pumpkin Turkey Loaf
A healthy holiday makeover of traditional meatloaf
In a sauté pan, cook 1 grated yellow onion with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon minced garlic, andcook for 1 minute. Add one 15-ounce can pumpkin, 1/3 cup white wine and 1/2 cup quinoa and cook another 7–8 minutes until thick (the quinoa will not cook through). Let cool. In a bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and pepper. Add the mixture from the pan to the bowl, stirring the ingredients together. Gently fold in one 20-ounce package 93% lean ground turkey. On a baking sheet prepared with nonstick cooking spray, shape the mixture into a turkey loaf and bake at 375 degrees for 30–35 minutes, until cooked through.
Thicken up your favorite curry while warding off hunger.
Add one cup of canned pumpkin, with 1/2 cup extra of whatever liquid the recipe calls for, to your favorite curry. This makes a thick, rich curry that will fill you up and ward off hunger. Try adding pumpkin to one of these recipes: Chicken and Potato Curry with Roasted Macadamia Nuts, or Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Curry.
Pumpkin Black Bean Burgers
A great way to bind black bean burgers
In a food processor, purée half of a 15-ounce can drained black beans, 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, 2 tablespoons light cream cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon each chili powder and salt, 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and pepper, and 1/4 cup oat, brown rice or whole-wheat flour until smooth. Add 1 cup cooked brown rice, the other half can of drained black beans, 1 diced shallot, 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro and pulse until chunky, not smooth. Form 4–6 patties 1/2-inch thick and let rest in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm. Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan and cook 3–4 patties at a time for 5–7 min per side on medium heat, until a golden crust forms.