Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

By Melanie Beasley, RD, LD
October 25, 2022


As soon as the calendar flips to October you can be sure of two things, pumpkin everything and candy galore. 

It’s probably no surprise that we don’t welcome the candy. We often call this time of year “the sugar season”, since it kicks off with Halloween candy lingering until it’s time for Thanksgiving pies, then it's onto the holiday cookies—all in all it’s the making of a true sugar trap that is hard (but not impossible!) to avoid. Not only does sugar wreak havoc on your brain, weight and mood, it also slows, and sometimes paralyzes, your immune function, which is the last thing you want during a lingering pandemic and the start of cold and flu season.

Combat the sugar rush by embracing pumpkin flavors galore in the form of healthy recipes. No sugar necessary! With a little creativity and planning, you can still enjoy that pumpkin flavor without the blood sugar roller coaster some of the traditional treats create.

Pumpkin Health Benefits

Let’s remember that at the heart of it, pumpkin is a whole, real food! It’s a winter squash and is one of those seasonal vegetables readily available at the store and farmer’s markets in autumn. It is nutrient dense with fiber and antioxidants. Some of the vitamins and minerals you can get from pumpkin are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, copper, vitamin B-6, folate, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus just to name a few. In fact, pumpkin seeds are the number one seed source if you’re looking to get magnesium from food sources, so save the seeds from your carved pumpkins and give them a little roast for an extra magnesium boost!

Now, let’s take a look at some home-cooked recipes where we can reap the nutrition benefits of pumpkin – a real, whole food - and still get that tasty pumpkin spice flavor.

Sugar-Free Healthy Pumpkin Recipes  

  • Pumpkin and Root Vegetable Soup – You can’t go wrong with a warm soup for these autumn days. Serve this as a side dish or freeze for later use.
  • Pumpkin Muffins – These gluten-free, protein-packed pumpkin muffins have all of the perfect flavors for fall and are nice to have on hand for busy days.
  • Pumpkin Chili – Top this tasty chili with a dollop of full-fat sour cream or slices of avocado for a balanced meal that will keep the whole family fueled for all the autumn activities you can pack in. It also freezes well for later use.
  • pumpkincustard.jpgPumpkin Custard – A great option for a bedtime snack to balance your blood sugar, which in turn ups your chances of a good night’s sleep!
  • Pumpkin Smoothie – Surprise your kiddos with this for breakfast and they’ll be requesting if for the rest of the month! Bonus, it’s perfectly balanced with a protein, fat and carb, which will keep their blood sugar balanced and mood level. Sugar-loaded treats can’t do that!
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars – A sweet treat that won’t leave you with a sugar-rush.
  • Pumpkin Spiced Coffee – This list would be remiss without the ever-popular pumpkin coffee to kick off your day. Here’s a no sugar version, which last time we checked is about 50 grams (!) less than the popular coffee chain version.

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Winter Squash Recipes

In addition to pumpkin, there are a wide variety of other winter squashes to choose from too! Buttercup, acorn, delicata, butternut, spaghetti, kabocha, and hubbard are a few of our favorite winter squashes that come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Like pumpkin, these vegetables are seasonal in the fall and winter months. They are a great way to give the body nutrients from vegetable carbohydrates when the weather gets colder and we start craving warm, hearty dishes. Here are a few squash recipes to try:

  • Slow Cooker Squash – Ever feel intimidated to cut open a hard squash? This fool-proof way to soften and cook your squash is hands free and easy.
  • Sheet Pan Autumn Chicken with Squash & Apples – Perfect dish for delicata or acorn squash that’s easy to batch cook extras for several meals. Plus pair with apples from your local orchard for all the fall vibes!
  • BBQ-Chili.jpgBBQ Chili – Butternut squash in this chili adds to the nutrient and flavor profile. Many stores these days have pre-chopped squash, so it’s easy to toss everything in the slow cooker (and make extra for lunch the next day).
  • Veggie Loaded Buddha Bowl – Toss any leftover cooked squash into a bowl with other veggies and greens to give you a variety of textures and a party for your tastebuds.
  • Garlic Veggie Noodles with Chicken – Technically this recipe is made with zucchini “zoodles” (which is a summer squash!), but you can swap those for spaghetti squash. Once the squash is cooked, use a fork to scoop out the strands and use in place of pasta.

There’s something for everyone on our winter squash and pumpkin-recipe roundup. Let us know in the comments which recipes you’ve tried, or will try, before the clock strikes midnight on Halloween. Eh, who are we kidding, we’ll be spicing our coffee with pumpkin well into December.


For more information on fall & foods, check out these resources:

About the author

Melanie is a licensed dietitian at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. In 2005, two weeks after having invasive back surgery, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then just eight months later she was diagnosed with multiple food allergies that included dairy, gluten, wheat, chocolate and Brazil nuts. After changing her diet to remove her allergy triggers and more, Melanie was able to stop taking three prescription medications and feel better than she had in years. As a nutritionist, she finds true joy from sharing that knowledge with others. Melanie has a Bachelors in Science of Food and Nutrition from the dietetics program at the University of Missouri Columbia.

View all posts by Melanie Beasley, RD, LD

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