5 Healthy Unexpected Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin



You can bulk up your oatmeal and give it a fiber boost by adding pumpkin. Just bring your oats and liquid to a boil, and then stir in a quarter-cup of pumpkin. Cook until thick and creamy. This trick works with instant oatmeal too — just stir it in after the oatmeal's been prepared. Better yet, use my super-sizing oatmeal method and double your portion for the same amount of calories.   

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Pasta Sauce

Hungry Girl's Unexpected Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin: Pasta Sauce
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Sure, it's unconventional, but sauce made with pumpkin is really satisfying. Try it with light cheese sauces or tomato ones. The pumpkin acts as a thickener, and it brings a rich creamy texture to the table. If you want to enhance the pumpkin flavor, season your sauce with a little nutmeg or even a small amount of pumpkin pie spice.

Perfect Pumpkin Sauce: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup canned pure pumpkin, 1/4 cup light plain soymilk, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/8 tsp. salt, and a dash of black pepper. Mix well. In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine 1/4 cup fat-free chicken broth, 1/4 cup finely chopped onions, 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic, and half a wedge of The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss cheese. Cook until broth has evaporated, 2-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until onion and garlic begin to brown, about 1 minute. Add pumpkin mixture, and stir until thoroughly blended and hot. (80 calories, 1g fat)

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Hungry Girl's Unexpected Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin: Shakes/Smoothies
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Add some pumpkin to your blended beverages for a delicious sippable snack. You can go full-on pumpkin flavored — like the smoothie below — or just use the pumpkin for a subtle boost of fiber and creaminess. Fruits it pairs well with? Apple, banana, peach, and mango. 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie: In a blender, combine 3/4 cup light vanilla soymilk, 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin, 1/4 cup fat-free whipped topping (thawed from frozen), 1 tbsp. sugar-free calorie-free vanilla syrup, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 2 no-calorie sweetener packets, and 1 cup crushed ice (or 5-8 ice cubes). Blend at a high speed until smooth. Pour into a glass, and top with 1/2 sheet (2 crackers) crushed low-fat honey graham crackers. (170 calories, 2g fat)

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Hungry Girl's Unexpected Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin: Chili
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Pumpkin is great in savory recipes! It really brings out the richness in tomato-based chili, and the taste is pretty subtle. I love it in this veggie chili.

Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Chili: In a slow cooker, combine a 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes, a 15-oz. can pure pumpkin, 2 tsp. chopped garlic, 1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Mix well. Add a 15-oz. can of chili beans (not drained), a 15-oz. can of black beans (drained and rinsed), a 14.5-oz. can of diced tomatoes, 2 cups chopped portabella mushrooms, 1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini, 1 1/2 cups chopped onion, and 1/2 cup canned diced green chiles. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. (1/11th of recipe, about 1 cup: 131 calories, 1g fat)

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Brownie Treats

Hungry Girl's Unexpected Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin: Brownie Treats
Courtesy of Hungry-Girl.com

I've been obsessed with brownie muffins made with pumpkin for a long time now. Why? Well, they're lower in calories than traditional brownies, they're super easy to make, and they're portion controlled. Plus, they taste chocolatey and decadent. You can barely detect the pumpkin. 

Yum Yum Brownie Muffins: Combine a box of devil's food cake mix with a 15-oz. can of pure pumpkin. Mix well. (Batter will be thick, but add nothing else!) Transfer to a 12-cup muffin pan lined with foil baking cups or sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 400 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out mostly clean, about 20 minutes. (1 brownie muffin: 181 calories, 3.5g fat)

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