Pumpkins: More than fall decorations, they’re good for you

3 Oct By TL Bernthal. Pumpkin is an incredibly nutritious squash, not just a fall decoration.

Pumpkin is especially popular for enjoying Halloween and Thanksgiving.

That bright orange color we love in fall is a clue to its health benefits. High in vitamin A, sugar squash is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Consuming pumpkin can help support eye, cardiovascular, and digestive health.

If you’re not using canned pumpkin, you’ll want to buy fresh sugar pumpkins, also called pie pumpkins or sweet pumpkins. Sugar squash are smaller, sweeter, and less fibrous than larger carving squashes.

There are many ways to incorporate pumpkin into desserts, soups, and salads.

• Cornelius Today asked readers for their favorite pumpkin recipes

Pumpkin Earthquake Cake

Submitted by Karen Ulmer, Cornelius Parks and Recreation Department

“I have many pumpkin recipes, so it was difficult to choose just one. I’ve decided to send you the below – I got it off the internet somewhere – and while it’s probably not good for you, it sure is good.”

Karen Ulmer


1 box of white cake mix (15.25 ounces)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

Cream cheese filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

Additional ingredients:

1 cup pecans

1 cup coconut flakes

1/4 cup chocolate chips, optional

1/4 cup butterscotch chips, optional


• Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking pan.

• Sprinkle coconut and pecans on bottom of baking pan. Put aside.

• In a bowl, mix together the cake mix, vegetable oil, water, pumpkin, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla extract and eggs. Pour the batter over the coconut and pecans.

• In a separate bowl (by hand or with a mixer), whisk together the cream cheese, melted butter, and powdered sugar. Once combined, spoonfuls of the mixture onto the pumpkin pie batter. Using a knife or toothpick, swirl the cream cheese and pumpkin pie together.

• If using, sprinkle chocolate chips and butterscotch chips on top and toss chips into cake.

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• Bake for 35 minutes. The cake should set, but the center should still wobble slightly when the cake pan is tapped lightly.

• Allow to cool before serving, but can also be eaten warm or at room temperature.

• Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chai Smoothie

Submitted by Karen Ulmer, Cornelius Parks and Recreation Department

Makes 1, but can easily be doubled


¾ cup almond milk

½ banana (use frozen for a thicker smoothie)

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon chopped pecans

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or plain protein powder plus ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract)

1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinches of cardamom powder and ginger powder

1 date, pitted (optional, adds sweetness)

scoop of ice cream


• Blend all ingredients in a high power blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy immediately!

Polly’s Pumpkin Crisp

Submitted by Wanda Pohl, River Walk, Davidson

This recipe came from a University of Georgia sorority nurse, Polly, who served it up at a sorority reunion.

Wanda Pohl


15-ounce can of pumpkin

1 cup condensed milk

2 cups of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

18 1/2-ounce yellow butter flavored cake mix

2 cups chopped pecans

1 cup butter, melted

whipped cream

Ground nutmeg


• Preheat oven to 350 degrees

• Stir together the first five ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 13-inch x 9-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mix; Sprinkle evenly with pecans. Drizzle butter evenly over the pecans.

• Bake 1 hour and 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Keep warm or at room temperature with whipped cream. Sprinkle with nutmeg if you like.

whipped cream:

Whipped cream from an 8 ounce carton

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

a pinch of nutmeg

• Beat cream with electric mixer on low speed until fluffy; Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add sugar and nutmeg, beating until soft peaks form.

–For 10 people

Pumpkin Dump Cake

Submitted by Ann Miltich, Nantz Road

“The PDC is my favorite dessert when I want a ‘different’ kind of cobbler for a group dinner. It’s a combination of a pumpkin pie with a pie crust. Nice and easy to serve chilled or warmed up with some cool whip or ice cream.”

Anna Miltich


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1 1/2 cups half and half

3 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

2 (15 oz) canned pumpkin

1 cup unsalted butter (melt)

1 box of yellow cake mix


• Preheat oven to 350 F.

• Grease a 9 x 13 metal baking pan

• Mix together sugar, half and half, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla.

• Mix in pumpkin and 1/4 cup melted butter.

• Spread on a greased baking dish.

• Spread dry cake mix over pumpkin mix.

• Spread 3/4 cup melted butter over the cake mix.

• Bake until top is browned and fully cooked, about 60 minutes.

• Allow to cool to room temperature for full cure.

• Can be served warm or chilled with your favorite toppings.

Pumpkin Dog Treats

Submitted by Ann Miltich, Nantz street

The dog pumpkin treat is great for adding healthy fiber to a dog’s diet.


3 cups flour (whole wheat)

1 cup pureed canned pumpkin

2 eggs

1/2 cup xylitol-free peanut butter


• Preheat oven to 350 F

• In a bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin and peanut butter

• Add flour and knead mixture into a dough

• Dust the rolling pin with a little flour

• Roll out the dough to ¼ inch and cut the dough into bite sized treats or use a cookie cutter.

• Place the cutouts on a baking tray lined with baking paper

• Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Submitted by Melissa Hart, The peninsula

“One of my favorite fall treats is to boil pumpkin seeds after I’ve just carved a pumpkin.” Roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack are a great source of protein and healthy fats.

1. Separate seeds from goop in pumpkin

2. Clean seeds under water

3. Simmer in salted water for 5 minutes. This will help clean the seeds and flavor them.

4. dry seeds; the drier the better.

5. Toss with oil and spices of your choice. I like peppers.

6. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until the seeds are brown around the edges.

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pumpkin pie

Submitted by Jan Marine, Spinnakers Reach Drive

The recipe was given to her in 1974 by a neighbor in Janesville, Wisconsin.

“My kids were little and they loved these bars all year round!”


4 eggs beaten

2 cups of sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon soda

2 cups flour

1 cup oil

1 cup pumpkin

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup nuts

• Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread on a greased and floured baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

When cool, frost:

8 ounces cream cheese

1 stick of butter

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar

• Hit and distribute.

Harvest salad with pumpkin, feta and pumpkin seeds

The Editor’s Choice

Roasted Pumpkin:

5 pounds sugar squash

2 tablespoons olive/canola oil (in a spray bottle)

1 tablespoon McCormick Salt-Free Spice Blend

Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette:

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 1/4 teaspoons honey

1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Pinch of ground black pepper

1/3 cup olive/canola oil

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme


7-1/2 cups arugula

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons peeled pumpkin seeds

5 tablespoons lemon thyme vinaigrette


• Preheat oven to 375°F.

• To roast the squash: Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half in half, then remove the skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut each of the quarters into 1 inch wide strips. Place the squash strips in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with McCormick Salt-Free Mixture. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

• For the Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette: Combine lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon, salt and pepper in bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil while stirring to emulsify. Finish with fresh thyme. Keep cold until use.

• Arrange the arugula on top in a large, flat bowl, top with roasted pumpkin slices, sprinkle with feta and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

—Makes 5 servings

Nutritional values ​​per serving:

Salad Serving Size – 1 Serving: Calories 304, Total Fat 6g, Carbohydrate 19g, Fiber 2g, Sodium 296mg, Protein 8g

Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette Serving Size – 1 ounce: Calories 169, Total Fat 18g, Carbohydrate 2g, Fiber 0g, Sodium 51mg, Protein 0g

— Recipe courtesy of Morrison Healthcare

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