Pumpkin in Unexpected Places

      October brings about thoughts of cooler weather, falling leaves, and of course, pumpkins!
      Pumpkins can be a favorite of dietitians due to the high amount of vitamin A and fiber in a small amount of calories. From a botanical point of view, pumpkins are a fruit since it’s the part of the plant that develops from a flower and contains seeds.  From a cooking point of view, it’s a vegetable since it’s less sweet.  From a nutritional standpoint, it’s loaded with some great nutrients.  Pumpkin is a great source of beta carotene (which gives pumpkin its orange color).   That beta carotene is important for helping our skin stay youthful and help prevent some cancers.  It can also be converted into a form of Vitamin A which helps with eyesight.  While fresh pumpkin is great for you, don’t forget that canned pureed pumpkin can also provide all of these benefits.

Many people want to put that pumpkin into a pie – which is delicious- but how about using it in an unexpected and healthier way? Pumpkin can help give some creaminess to dishes without adding extra fat and calories.  In the dish are making today, we will use the pumpkin to make a thick and delicious sauce for some pasta.  The bonus is we will make it all in one pot!

Here are the ingredients you will need:

One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
Yield: 4 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped small (about 1 cup)
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic, peeled & minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 8 ounces linguine pasta
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I recommend Chardonnay or another wine that's on the dry side)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
  • 1 (4-ounce) log fresh goat cheese
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil; add the onion, then garlic cook for 2-3 minutes or until onion begins to get translucent.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients except the goat cheese and parsley (and any additional salt and pepper) to a large pot.
  3. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. As soon as it comes to the rolling boil, set the timer for 9 minutes. Stir and toss with tongs as it cooks, stirring frequently for the first few minutes and then constantly as it thickens and begins to stick to the bottom of the pot. When the 9 minutes is up, the pasta should be tender and the sauce will have thickened slightly. If the pasta is not yet cooked, continue for one more minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Crumble goat cheese into the pasta. Stir gently until melted and combined. Let sit for 5 minutes (at this point, the pasta will seem somewhat soupy, but it will thicken as it sits).
  5. Stir and taste. Add additional salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Divide between bowls and sprinkle parsley over the tops.                                                  Adapted from Kitchen Treaty

Click here to watch our dietitian, Brenda Duby, make this dish. 


Family Meals Month Meets Breakfast Month

In continuation of Family Meals month AND National Breakfast month we offer Breakfast for Dinner! There's nothing faster, more affordable or delicious as eating breakfast for dinner. Here's a speedy dinner just for your family this week.

Omelet Quesadilla

  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Whole Milk
  • 1 tsp. Canola Oil
  • 1/2 cup Shredded 3 Cheese Blend
  • 1/4 cup WHOLLY GUACAMOLE dip Pico Style
  1. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the oil to the skillet and allow to warm up for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the chili powder, eggs and milk to make a uniform batter.
  4. Add the batter to the skillet and cover with a lid for 3 minutes.
  5. Add half of the cheese blend to half of the omelet and cover for 1 minute so cheese can start to melt. Keep the heat low to avoid excessive browning or burning of the eggs.
  6. Add the WHOLLY GUACAMOLE dip Pico Style then cover with the rest of the cheese before folding over the omelet. Be careful and don't break it!
Thanks to Wholly Guacamole for the recipe and picture.


Family Meals Month: Turkey Zucchini Meatballs Sandwiches

Turkey Zucchini Open-Face Meatball Sandwiches
Serves 6

•    1 lb. ground turkey
•    Salt and pepper
•    1 egg
•    1 cup zucchini, shredded
•    1/3 cup bread crumbs
•    1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
•    3 Hoagie rolls (cut in half)
•    Newman’s Own All Natural Marinara sauce
•    ½ cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
•    Fresh basil

Step by Step:

Start off by shredding your zucchini (a cheese grater works fine) so it’s ready to go. You will also need to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Then in a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients (except for the cheese, basil and marinara sauce) and mix with hands until it’s all well combined.

Next you’ll want to form your meat mixture into desired sized meatballs and place them on a baking sheet (about 2 inches apart from each other).

Bake them for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of meatballs. It is ideal to take the temperature from the middle of your meatball to ensure that they are done cooking (turkey needs to be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit).

Once the meatballs are done, remove them from the oven and cut each of them in half. It is optional to toast your hoagie rolls while waiting for the meatballs to finish, if desired.

Use one side of the (toasted) hoagie roll, place meatballs (flat side down) on the roll and top with warm marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.

This recipe will make enough meatballs for more than 6 sandwiches depending on the size you roll them.

Reference: Kim's Healthy Eats

Prepared by: Kathy Olansen & Courtney Lowe, TTU Dietetic Interns