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Pumpkin, Spice and Everything Nice: Four Ways to Enjoy Pumpkin’s Many Benefits this Fall

Pumkpins in a patch during sunset

Leah Cassella, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian and member of the Penn Bariatrics team, shares some of her favorite ways to use pumpkin this fall.

It seems that with each fall we get bombarded with pumpkin-spice flavored everything! Instead of going for the boxed items with a sprinkle of pumpkin spice flavoring, reach for the real fruit itself!

Pumpkins are 90 percent water and low in calories. Pumpkin also is packed with vitamin A, B vitamins, potassium, antioxidants and helps boost your fiber intake for the day. One cup of canned pumpkin provides 83 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 245 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A.

Here are just a few ways you can enjoy a fall favorite:

Don’t Toss Those Seeds

Save the seeds from that carved pumpkin! 

Seeds are packed with antioxidants and also contain vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, healthy fats, protein and iron.  A 1-ounce serving will provide you with 7 grams of protein.

Rinse the seeds, and once dry, place them on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking oil. Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes.

Season the seeds however you like them – with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic or onion powder. They can then be added to salads, soups, roasted vegetables and cereals — or eaten plain!

Pumpkin Spice Up Your Yogurt

Switch up your usual plain Greek yogurt routine.

Add canned pumpkin, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice for a flavorful fall dish.

Make a Pie-Inspired Breakfast

Add ¼-cup of pumpkin puree to your morning oats.

Make your oatmeal with low-fat or fat-free milk or Fairlife milk for an extra boost of protein.

Add cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract if you wish. Top with crushed walnuts and you’ve got pumpkin pie in a bowl!

Try Protein-Packed Pumpkin Chili

Replace your usual chili recipe with this Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili from

Yield: 9 servings Serving Size: 1 cup


  • cooking spray
  • 2 pounds 99 percent lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 (15-ounce cans) white northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 4.5-ounce canned chopped green chile
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro, red onion or chives for topping
  • Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream for topping (optional)


Heat a large, heavy sauté pan over high heat and lightly spray with oil.

Add meat and cook, breaking it up until white, about 5 minutes.  Add to crock pot.

Add oil to the sauté pan, then onions and garlic, sauté about 3 to 4 minutes; add cumin and sauté another minute. Add to crock pot.

Add beans, pumpkin puree, green chilis, broth, chili powder, oregano and bay leaves.

Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste before serving. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information

Per Serving: 272.5 calories, 2.5 grams of total fat, 499 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of fiber, 2.5 grams of sugar and 32 grams of protein

About this Blog

Learn about bariatric surgery and get the support you need to continue on your weight-loss journey. We offer workouts, recipes and tips from Bariatric Surgery program team members, and stories from patients like you.

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